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Fireproof: some thoughts on the movie

On a whim, my wife and I saw Fireproof last night in the one few theaters in the Boston area to show it.  I would highly recommend you go see it.  I’m not going to pretend it’s Oscar worthy or anything like that, but as far as a movie that keeps you engaged, connects the audience with its characters and teaches valuable lessons effectively, this is a good one.  What I’m offering here is not a movie review (though I’ll give some thoughts on it), since I’m horribly unqualified to do that, but rather some thoughts I had coming out of it.

For those who saw Facing the Giants, released by the same church and production team as Fireproof, you’ll be happy to know that there are strong improvements.  For one, the acting is better, not limited to but especially Kirk Cameron (oh Mike Seaver, how you’ve grown!).  But what stuck out to me the most is how they wove the gospel into the story effectively.  Let me illustrate by contrast.

In Facing the Giants, basically you had an awful football team with an unsuccessful coach who suddenly had a turn around after a bunch of the players repented of their sin and became Christians.  Cute story, liked the movie, but felt like the “conversion” part of it was a bit forced (please understand that I liked the movie, I don’t want to come across as overly critical).  In Fireproof, however, Cameron’s character comes to the Lord in a way that (1) actually fit well with the storyline itself and (2) probably happens with dozens of people every year in towns all across America.  I won’t give the specifics, because I feel like it’s a powerful point in the movie and by telling you, I’ll ruin it.  But you’ll understand what I mean.

One of the most impactful parts of the movie is seen in the second point- the storyline is completely realistic.  Caleb’s (Cameron’s character) marriage is falling apart.  Like any struggling marriage, there are numerous factors that play into this- difficult work schedules, unappreciated spouses, different views of money, a man’s need for respect, a woman’s need to feel cherished, pornography, etc. 

I’m not giving anything away here, but basically Cameron’s character is driving his wife away.  There is the temptation there for her to find acceptance with another man.  While many movies would jump quickly to the underappreciated wife sleeping with another man, Fireproof realistically portrays the temptation here.  It isn’t about sex, it’s about feeling loved.  The wife doesn’t feel loved and appreciated by her husband.  Another man pays attention to her and symphathizes with her plight.  This interaction goes on for a while, growing slowly but steadily.  They don’t jump into bed together right away.  Temptation is a much more subtle snare.

When the movie was over, I couldn’t help but think about my marriage (just barely over a year old, now) and how I need to continue to love and appreciate my wife.  Though we are (praise God) nowhere near the point of the marriage in the movie, I should “be careful lest I fall.”  Just because something is not an immediate temptation does not mean we should not be aware of the possibility.  In fact, we ought to take measures to make sure we never come even close to reaching that point.  My job as a husband is to love my wife as Christ loves the Church and gave Himself up for her.  My job is to ensure that she doesn’t feel the need to find sympathy in the company of another man.  In short, I need to avoid the mistakes made by Caleb.

This reminds me of a point made in a class by Dr Roy Ciampa back in seminary.  He talked about adultery (we were discussing the Sermon on the Mount) and how it grows over time.  He broke it down like this:

A married man and a married woman eat lunch every day in the compant of coworkers.

This man and woman find themselves enjoying each other’s company more than the other coworkers and begin to have side conversations during those lunches.

This man and woman then begin to eat lunch without the other coworkers.

This man and woman begin to become disappointed when others are around, intruding on their time together.

This man and woman begin to meet at times other than lunch in places where intrusions will not happen, often when they should be with their own spouses.

And it goes on from there as they continue to feed each other’s needs, ultimately their physical (sexual) needs.  People don’t wake up one day and fall into an adulterous relationship.  It’s about having a need met in someone other than your spouse (say, the need for good company) and going back to them to fill more needs.  Dangerous stuff.

Okay, I’ve gone on long enough.  So, if you are married, I highly encourage you to see this movie.  Even if you are not, check it out and keep in mind the lessons taught within it- I can assure you they are better lessons than the ones you’re learning from other movies and TV shows.

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