Is Fireproof safe?

It seems like I can’t turn around without seeing something about the movie “Fireproof.” I have heard from so many people that, “You just have to see this movie – it is so good.” Before you go out and check your local listings, know that Fireproof is not going to be at the theater anytime soon, and I’m not really sure if it ever was.

From what I can gather from the posters I have seen advertising various showings at local churches, the title has a double meaning. Apparently the main character is a fireman, but the movie is really about how to protect your marriage (thus making it, fireproof). Usually when someone tells me how great this movie is and tells me to rush out to see it with my wife as soon as possible, I just smile and say, “Oh yeah, I’ve heard of it.” I try to hide my utter lack of excitement.

The reason for my tepid reaction starts with the male star, Kirk Cameron. I loved him in “Growing Pains,” but I feel like his career has taken a turn for the strange. He has become the face of Evangelical Christian media, resurrecting (excuse the pun) his career with the movie “Left Behind.”

I’m sorry, but I have a strong distrust of anything vaguely attached to anything that is vaguely attached to “Left Behind.” I find the theology of Tim LaHaye so abhorrent that, unless Cameron condemns the books as perverting the Biblical narrative in such a way that is exploitative and dangerous, anything he does is tainted to me.

So, I have avoided “Fireproof.” I have realized though, that I need to see this movie. As a pastor in a church where couple might go and see it on their own, I have to be able to respond in an informed manner. Just hiding my head in the sand will not make this movie go away.

Plus, to avoid it completely is to fall into the classic liberal trap of hypocrisy. I claim to have an open table, and an open mind. I want to be able to learn from differences and not demonize people that simply disagree with me. I want to walk humbly with God, which means that I have to allow that sometimes I might not be fully right, and Tim LaHaye might not be fully wrong.

So instead of calling “Left Behind” the most dangerous theo-babble that has been spewed in the last half century (because it could quite literally lead to nuclear war and environmental devastation); I should instead engage those that claim “Left Behind,” with earnest discussion and try to learn from them.

Our divergent ways to understand and interpret Scripture might leave us with little common ground, but hopefully we can confirm “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; [or liberal or conservative] for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28, bracket added by me).

I should not hide from “Fireproof.” There might very well be some good points to it. I doubt I will agree with all of it, but maybe it will make me think for a moment. Maybe it will remind me, just once, to be kinder to my wife. Maybe it will help me enter into a conversation with someone. Maybe it will open up a relationship that wasn’t there before, and that is reason enough to see it.


Filed under Christianity, Media

7 responses to “Is Fireproof safe?

  1. absurdemest

    I know we’ve been through this before, Dear Robb, but by that logic, you need to go to the Hustler Club before you can, like the film you discuss, suggest that pronography is a bad idea. I think that by spending money to see that film, you are encouraging the folks behind it to make more, and thus contributing to the amount of crap in the world. Do you also need to buy books about Holocaust denial or watch Expelled? When what a thing claims to be (in its own PR) is abhorrent, I see no reason why we are required to take it seriously, just because others do.

  2. Grant

    My dear friends,
    Come ON, man! It’s an evangelical film about improving marriage. It’s not anything close to the unbiblical stuff we were frequently fed in seminary (which we paid for, I might add). That is, unless you consider this film to be inconsistent with the Jesus Seminar’s understanding of Jesus eschewing the traditional family structure.
    Even still, this is much more a film about marital mutuality than patriarchy, so no foothold there, either.
    The biggest fault in this film would be that a happy ending results when a man accepts Christ into his life and begins taking Christian kindness and discipline seriously, leading to the reconciliation of his marriage. Aside from the unusual nature of such phenomena in our mainline churches, I don’t see anything particularly objectionable about it.
    And it ain’t Bruckheimer or Bay, but that’s not all bad, either. I was fully entertained, had a great date with my wife (and our whole young & married Sunday school class), was very pleased with the Christ-centered message, and glad to experience the movie in a theatre packed full of people who were also willing to support a church’s creative effort to share Good News.
    Is it safe? About as safe as they come. In my mind, worst case scenario is somebody watches it without knowing it’s Christian and accidentally hears a lot about salvation and Jesus. They probably won’t melt.

  3. Grant, that is fair. Like I said, I know nothing about the movie other than the fact that Kirk Cameron is involved in it, which gives me pause. I am going to see it, and I don’t think I or anyone else will melt from seeing it. I guess I am going on the paradigm of “once bitten, twice shy,” so when I see Cameron’s name attached to something, I inherently do not trust it. And that is something from seminary that I hold dear – critical suspicion (I think they called it something else). I don’t trust things on face value, I consider the source and the historical context, and this source is one that I do not trust. Maybe it is a wonderful movie, but I was exploring why I have not been quick to get on its bandwagon.

  4. I thought the message of the movie was grand – put Christ in the lead of your marriage. Wow, there’s a concept our nation could use. (And my own marriage, for that matter, which is why we went to see the movie.) I didn’t pick up on any other motives. I think you’re safe, but I look forward to your follow-up blog, Robb. I wasn’t watching for any hidden motives.

  5. Grant

    I didn’t see The Matrix in the theatre because I saw Keaneu Reeves in Johnny Mnemonic. Is that what you’re getting at? That gave me a hermeneutic of suspicion, I can tell you.
    They actually do the “Way of the Master” evangelism thing in the movie. Nobody disappears in a pre-trib rapture, however. Hope I’m not spoiling too much.

  6. absurdemest

    It might very well be a film whose intention is improving marriage. However, I have to doubt that there is anything Christian about it. And yes, this is entitrely because of Kirk Cameron. While I have not seen this movie, I have seen a lot of his public appearances over the last few years because of my interest in the creation/evolution debate. He is not a loving person. He is a sarcastic, snide, and condescending person. He’s the “Christian” Christopher Hitchens. I believe that we are known by our works, and if his work is promoting a hateful version of Christianity in a repulsive manner, then I have no further obligation to try to get to know him or his works.

  7. Pingback: Fireproof stirs something « The Fat Pastor

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