It’s not everyday that you find a movie that is dedicated to strengthening marriages. Fireproof is just that. It’s got action and drama, love and humor, and intense emotion. It’s awesome. Yet it sends a message that is rarely seen on the big screen that your marriage is worth fighting for, and that the best way to go about it is by including God in the process.
Kirk Cameron, 1980’s teen idol in the hit TV show “Growing Pains,” stars as Caleb Holt, a fireman on the brink of divorce. He gets caught up in the snare of selfishness to which many couples fall prey in marriage. Self-preoccupation rears it’s ugly head as both Caleb and his wife express mutual hostility, blaming, and putting other people and things ahead of each other.
In training a rookie firefighter, Caleb is adamant that he never leave his partner behind, especially in the midst of a fire. Unfortunately Caleb cannot see that he is disregarding his own advice in his personal life. Thankfully he has a fellow firefighter and friend who is able to help him see the light.
The Love Dare
Caleb also has a loving father who is able to share something from his own marital journey in the form of a “Love Dare.” This journal contains 40 days of suggested readings and practices for Caleb to do to restore the love and his faith in his marriage.
What I love about the “Love Dare” concept is that it highlights the fact that it really only takes one person to dramatically change a marriage. The problem is that it isn’t always easy to do. This is made painfully obvious throughout Caleb’s efforts to win back his wife’s heart.
Transforming the Heart
Caleb’s first big obstacle was to transform his own heart. He learned that just going through the motions of love was not enough. Until he experienced a change of heart, his efforts to love were impotent.
Transforming one’s heart is no easy task. When anger, resentment and bitterness have been building, changing one’s attitude and humbly seeking to change our own behaviors can be a mighty mountain to climb. Yet, this is the foundation upon which sincere and lasting change in marriage must occur. Transformation of the heart is not an earthly endeavor. This is the stuff of divine intervention. It takes a power beyond our own.
How does one overcome a default nature of self-seeking when our efforts to change have failed? How does one truly love another if we do not even know the Creator of love? God is the missing link in so many marriages that currently subsist in a sea of mediocrity, with many others falling prey to despair and divorce.
Some of the simple, yet potentially powerful actions that were suggested in the Love Dare included things like refraining from saying anything negative to your spouse. The old adage, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all” still applies. Doing one nice thing today for one’s spouse or calling to check on how he or she is doing were some of the daily Love Dare challenges.
So many valuable pieces of successful marriage practices were seamlessly taught throughout the movie. Pray for your spouse. Listen to your spouse. Invest in your marriage with your time, attention, energy and even money. Study your spouse. Get a bachelor’s, then a master’s, then a doctorate degree in your spouse. Have a never-ending quest to know the heart and soul of your spouse and what makes them tick.
Love is an Action
Love isn’t solely based on a feeling, as Hollywood would have us believe. Love is an action. In marriage, sometimes one or the other or both needs to love even when the love is undeserved.
Love is something you choose to do regardless of the difficulty. In marriage there will inevitably be opportunities to test your meddle and see if you really meant what you said on your wedding day — for better or for worse.
Marriage is a promise. Marriage is a covenant. It is not merely a contract that can be canceled at will. Rich rewards await those who push through the pain of personal growth to overcome the challenges and obstacles that all couples face. Fire is a great analogy used in this movie for the refining fire of marriage.
In one poignant scene Caleb comes to his wits end regarding how he can possibly continue to love when his love is not received. How can he love when his love is rebuffed and rejected? It is then that he awakens to the role Jesus Christ plays in his ability to love his wife, as he must be able to within marriage. It is then that his heart is transformed and softened to a state that makes him capable of loving in the true spirit of love.
Somewhere in the midst of Caleb’s awakening to and acceptance of Christ, there seems to be a transfer of power, such that Caleb is now able to love more so as God loves. It gives new meaning to charity, the pure love of Christ, that suffereth long, is kind, and seeketh not her own. This love that we seek in marriage is the love that God freely gives.
The road to Caleb’s transformation is not easy. It is full of heart-wrenching pain. It is quite obvious that the process is excruciatingly slow. It is easy to see how such a marital journey is quickly abandoned by so many for the seemingly apparent “peace” that divorce deceptively promises.
Practicing What You Preach
For me the cherry on top of this movie is that Kirk Cameron, a committed Christian and obvious believer in the things he learns in the movie, had long ago made a personal pledge to never kiss anyone other than his real wife. That can be a real challenge for any actor.
In trying to beat the not-so-good marital odds that Hollywood offers, Cameron has committed himself to kissing only his wife, Chelsea Noble, who incidentally played his former love interest in “Growing Pains.”
In a scene where Caleb kisses his movie wife, his real wife seamlessly steps in for the smooch. There’s something sexy about a man who can stick to his principles like that. You’ve got to imagine the peace and the trust his wife is able to have in him even as he works in a profession that is maritally demeaning and downright dangerous.
Cameron’s personal commitment to kiss only his wife illustrates just one of those smart safeguards that keeps couples up on the mountain peaks enjoying the splendor rather than slipping into the ravine below where serious marital recovery is needed.
Fireproof Your Marriage
I encourage everyone to see this movie, and to encourage others to do so as well. Fireproof is great marriage education for our children too. Going into marriage with an understanding that successful marriages take effort, and knowing a few of the keys to marital happiness are a couple of great gifts that we can give our youth.
If you happen to miss this movie in the theaters (it opened on Friday, September 26, 2008) then be sure to get the DVD. You can check out the movie trailer and learn more about it below.
I hope we will all work to fireproof our marriages, and maybe even fire them up a bit as well! God bless us all to invite Him into our hearts and into our marriages.
Additional Information about Fireproof the Movie:
Video Clip: Kirk Cameron on NBC’s Today Show
Video Clip: Background of Fireproof
Fireproof DVD Available Jan. 27, 2009