Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I just watched Fireproof and I was less than impressed. Please put down your stones and let me explain myself.

The actual idea was good. The acting was more than acceptable. The scripting was better than most Christian films and many big budget Hollywood films. I think the 40 day love dare is inspired and would work if people really put their heart into it. I liked the clear gospel message. This film has a lot going for it but did not live up the the hype for one very important reason.

I feel like most of the film dumped the entire failure of the marriage on the husband. The beginning was the worst. The wife was totally blameless at that point. She worked hard for 7 years while the husband was focused on his own pleasures. There is a scene where the wife is complaining to her friends and they are all affirming her complaints and the husband is complaining to his friend and the guy is giving him a dose of reality.

I agree that the Kirk Cameron's character needed to step up to the plate and make things right. I just wish the film had shown how it takes two people to make a marriage work or fail. The wife wasn't blameless but I felt that it showed her attachment to the Dr. as something natural because of her lack of intimacy with her husband. If this is true then it should have shown the porn problem as a natural development because of marital problems. No one would accept that though.

I love that Kirk Cameron's character eventually overcomes the parasite of porn by throwing his computer out. I think that is the solution for some people. If your eye offends you cut it out. That is a powerful statement and is true. I just wish they had focused on the wife's faults other than trying to find emotional intimacy outside her marriage because her husband didn't provide it.

I feel that the only time it showed that a wife might have some fault was when the big reveal came at the end of the movie that the husband's mother was the one that did the 40 day love dare with her husband. In that it still felt really lopsided because there was this whole dynamic that made her out to be the one with the problem and the dad was somehow perfect.

In my experience it is usually both sides that are wrong. I know I'm getting hung up on this one detail but look around. Time and time again men are told we can't be men. We are told that we have to set aside our desires and even our gender. Guys aren't the kind of leaders in church and prayer they should be because church is feminized so often. Then we get this movie that is propagated as being so good for marriage and it tells us the same things that our entire culture has been saying for years. Those same things that are resulting in a divorce rate that climbs every year.

Guys listen to this. Love your spouse as yourself. Serve her, do for her, be the hero but also remember that God made you a man and not a woman. You have been made different so your spouse and complete you and so you can complete your spouse. Study her and find out where you complete her. Don't just give in to the idea that you need to emasculate yourself because you are a terrible male creature. Your wife needs your compassion but she also needs your strength.

Women listen to this. Love your spouse and submit. Let him be a man and appreciate those attributes. Build him up and stroke his ego. It is more fragile than he lets on. Remember God made you different for a reason. You need your husband to complete you and he needs you to complete him. Don't let this culture emasculate him but let him become a powerful spiritual leader in your home and community.

I think that this is what the movie really wanted to say but it was made by people who have been raised in a culture that depreciates the value of men because women were depreciated for far too long. Instead of husband and wife working together in unity they are in competition and right now the deck is stacked.

I think it is time to set those things aside and grow closer to God through our marriage.

Now if you want to start throwing those stones pick them back up, but first could you please explain why I'm wrong? If you agree with me let me know I'm not alone.

15 comments:

Luckygirl said...

I actually thought that the wife's relationship with the doctor was mild and not that big of a deal since she was separated from her husband and filing for divorce when it happened. And she wasn't a Christian. To be quite honest, after he cornered her in the kitchen and yelled at her in one of the first scenes, I wanted her to leave him!

Anyway, you are right that they made the guy out to be the main (if not the entire) problem in the marriage. And I have no idea if that's accurate or not. I haven't seen inside any troubled marriages to know. So I can't argue one way or the other about it.

I was impressed with the train scene! :)

Nick the Geek said...

Luckygirl,

That is exactly the problem that I had. I can relate to the kind of frustration he was feeling that brought on the yelling fit. I try to control myself better than that but no one seems bothered by her response to what he did for her. Her "friends" seem to encourage her by saying he is just trying to play her. Even after finding the book she needs to think about it and only comes back to him when she finds out that he gave up his boat for her mom.

Everyone misses those things because the emphasis is on him and how wrong he is. I'm sorry but Hollywood gives us enough, "men are terrible brutes that can't think for themselves" I don't want the church to tell me the same thing.

In a marriage, or anything, we are really only responsible for our own feelings. What I mean is that I can try and do everything for my wife but I can't make her love me. That is one thing that this film really got right. We do what we should do because we love them not because they love us. The wife was telling the truth the night of the candlelight dinner. She didn't love him. I personally think she never did until the end. She would have kept doing right by him regardless if she actually loved him.

That is when it gets hard, and that is well illustrated by Kirk Cameron's crisis after the failed candlelight dinner and how he came to understand he didn't ever know what love was until he came to Christ.

These things are good and true but I just feel like they should have explored the wife's failure to love more, not as an excuse for the husband but so that people watching would understand reality better. The husband didn't single handedly destroy the marriage.

Jake said...

Fireproof is not a story that shows a good example of a marriage, but rather how a covenant before God is to be honored (see Judges 11 for how important a covenant is). I do not take this movie to be blaming the husband as much as it is blaming selfishness on both of their parts and the lack of communication as the main issues. The main character is the man. The wife’s failures are just that, the wife’s failures. The movie only deals with the man. The man is where the true umbrella of protection for a marriage starts. I am a little concerned about some of the blogging comments. There is nothing mild about starting a relationship while being married (whether or not you are not you are planning on getting divorced). This is not some Jr. High boyfriend, marriage is a covenant with God. Seeking counsel from friends and trusting your emotions are not reliable. Caleb was fortunate to have a godly friend and father. His wife’s friends were far from godly.

Luckygirl said...

Jake - Marriage is only a covenant w/ God when you're a Christian. And what I meant by mild was - she just had lunch w/ him. She wasn't unfaithful...yet...

Nick the Geek said...

Jake,

Yes the story only tells the husbands side because he is the main character. It should have told both sides because the marriage is the main character. Well, that isn't entirely correct. I'm ok with the story as a story. I think it was very well done, but it is not what I've heard so many people say it is. It is not some perfect thing that will challenge you to try better. If you are interested in doing better then you will and this will help inspire you to that, but if you are really in the place the husband is at the start of the movie then it will only tear you down.

I am honestly concerned for all the guys I know that have gone to see this movie because their wives felt they needed to see it. Honestly the wives have basically said you are broken and this will fix you without understanding that they are broken as well.

Luckygirl,
The wife "only ate lunch" with the guy, but it is more than that. She found a substitute for emotional intimacy and validation in this doctor the same way that the husband found sexual gratification in internet porn. This boils down to one of the primary differences in guys and girls.

Tell me, if your husband were to start spending his time with a woman he worked with even if they didn't have sex would this bother you?

She did more than spend lunch time with this guy she gave her heart to him and judged her husband against a false standard based on her perception of who this guy was. That is why she assumes he paid for the equipment and struggled with getting back with her husband even after reading the journal.

This is one of the things that I feel should have been stressed more than that quaint little conversation with the one person that didn't affirm her completely where the only advice was to be cautious because she was so young.

Luckygirl said...

Nick -

My husband has female co-workers and friends he has lunch with and it doesn't bother me at all. But, OF COURSE, if he started a serious friendship with a woman and hid that he was married from her because he was attracted to her and completely intended on having a physical relationship with her once our marriage was dissolved - YES! I'd have a huge problem with that. Although, that would NOT be the same as him actually HAVING an affair with someone.

I think my point is getting confused... I just agreed that the Kirk Cameron character was made to look like the bad guy in their marriage and she was made to look like she only did something wrong AFTER she thought their marriage was over. I think you are saying, Nick, that you wish the movie would have explored her stuff a bit more, since what she did (like him looking at porn) is an all too common mistake married people make? And to illustrate that both people make a marriage work or not work???

Nick the Geek said...

Luckygirl,
I think you are getting it better when you talk about a more serious relationship than jut a casual friendship. She was singling this doctor out and investing herself in him unlike her husband.

I don't know that the film needed to explore this idea but for it to be what people keep saying it is, then it needs to show that both people were responsible for the failing marriage and that the wife needed more than to just decide to accept her husband in the end. There is a lot more to it in real relationships. Over simplifying it is the same as the old fairy tales. They create a false idea of what a relationship looks like and sets men up to fail. If we hold this as the standard of how marriage should work then we set men up to fail.

That is why there is a small measure of redemption in showing the mother as one that went through the love dare.

Like I've said, the movie itself isn't bad as a movie goes, but it does not live up to the hype as a powerful marriage tool.

Anonymous said...

My husband left me after a "friendship" with a co-worker developed into someone he couldn't live without. Apparently he could live without me and our days-old son. So please, don't minimize what she was doing. Were they having marriage problems/separated . . . yes. But instead of looking inward at her behavior/attitude/actions, she sought refuge in a place she shouldn't have been. (And that is a very slippery slope.) Like Caleb found escape in porn. I agree with you Nick. I wish they would have explored her fault and actions on a deeper level and it wasn't so one-sided. It does take two people to make a marriage work, my own marriage failed because one party didn't want to put any effort into saving it.

Nick the Geek said...

Anon,

I am very sorry for the situation you are in. I have heard so many stories like that. My best friend in HS got married to a girl that ended up cheating on him within the first year. He wanted to work it out but she didn't.

Another good friend of mine was married for over 15 years when his wife started cheating on him. They had 3 boys and he wanted to try and work it out but she refused.

Both of these stories involved the wife starting a friendship with a guy and finding her emotional intimacy in that relationship a long time before any sexual gratification. Both of these cases involved the husband failing to understand the emotional needs of his wife.

The problem was on both sides of the relationship and it is true of most divorces I am aware of. Sure I know a few times where one spouse is giving fully into the marriage and the other spouse never responds, but that is rare. We must guard ourselves from everything that will tear down our marriage and give ourselves fully to God and our spouse. (The order is important)

Nicholas Z. Cardot said...

Those are great observations about that movie. My wife got mad at me because that is what I said about it to. She wasn't really mad at me, but I did get an elbow in the gut. LOL. But that may have been because of how I said it. :)

Nick the Geek said...

Nicholas Z. Cardot,

I am fortunate that my wife agreed with me 100% on this. She has been through many marriage building things with me so has a real grasp of what makes a marriage work and that it takes two.

Of course we have our share of fights and we don't always fight fair but we also make up so it works out overall.

chriscrossing said...

Now I feel like I want to see the movie again after this post. I thought the movie showed both people being responsible for the failing of their marriage. It portrayed her as completely shut down from any chance of reconciliation. It's been awhile since I saw it but I remember thinking that she overreacted to everything and was very critical of him. Like I said, I got that they BOTH were in a pretty broken, hopeless place as far as relating to each other, until the husband let Jesus into the relationship. It didn't come across to me as one-sided as it did to you. For instance, it felt like the porn weakness on one side and the adultery (Jesus' definition) on the other side pretty much evened the playing field of breaking God's commandment.

Anonymous said...

In my experience men are the ones we blame. If we blame a woman, then we are being mean men, or unliberated women in league with mean men. So, the blame then comes back to the man.

She had an "innocent lunch" and he had an "innocent look at pornography." Yeah, we know who's innocent. It's just that her sins are more socially acceptable.

Men of God... we WILL be considered chauvenists in our society, even if we are not, when we try to take a Godly view of marriage. Plain and simple--it is not the same view our culture has of a good marriage.

Nick the Geek said...

crisscrossing,

You are right that there were flaws on both sides, but they movie never explored or denounced what the wife was doing. They showed it and the only person that had issues seemed to be the husband who was being vilified at the time. He was told over and over his porn problem was a problem. He was told from the wife, his dad, and his friend that he needed to change but she is never told that. The closest is the older lady that warns her to think before she acts. In our culture most people don't really see her actions as being wrong per se, especially in reaction to what she was getting from her husband.

anon,
Yes I think if we really lived life like we should many people would deem us chauvanists. My mother-in-law looked at her husband on their wedding night and told him "I don't need you." She wanted to make it clear that she was there because she wanted to be not because she was incomplete in any way. That is a very terrible thing in my opinion. I need my wife. Sure God completed me before we got married but now I need my wife and she needs me. God completes us because we are one. I try to open doors for my wife but she was raised with a mom that is very liberated and so it never occurs to her that I need to open the door just as much as she needs me to.

chriscrossing said...

Nick, I think the difference in the two experiences they showed is that the man was surrounded by Christians (not counting his wife's criticisms) that were making him be accountable. She was not and was validated by the culture. There was even a scene in the movie of nurses gossiping that struck me as another example of what culture accepts.

I suppose this is all lost on people that don't have a Biblical world view and so your point is a valid one from that perspective.

But I felt that the real thing the movie was trying to get across is that you can transform/heal your marriage when you let go of your own selfish desires and serve the other person and learn to love as Christ loved and this becomes possible as you let Christ love you. It was a wonderful message and showed that the man was the stronger person, here (in his parents' relationship it was the woman). In the Love and Respect book by Emerson Eggerich, he says the stronger person needs to take the first step to breaking the crazy cycle.

So, what I got from the movie is that the husband loved sacrificially and was the nobler of the two to pursue his wife as he did. I guess we all see different things, but I wanted to pass on a different perspective (not throwing any stones. :-)

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