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Something Worth Fighting For

October 10, 2008

This past weekend, Daniel and I went to see the movie Fireproof, the latest by Sherwood Pictures. They’re the production company affiliated with Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia whose low-budget Christian football film Facing the Giants was surprisingly successful all around the country a couple of years ago. We knew Fireproof was about a firefighter (Kirk Cameron) and his wife who are on the verge of divorce, and I knew that I wanted to see it as soon as I saw the trailer. It ended up being even better than I expected, and I think it does a great job of promoting the value that marriage it is meant to have.

Kirk Cameron, whom I knew from the 80’s sitcom “Growing Pains,” plays Caleb, a firefighter whose seven-year marriage to Catherine has turned into little more than a hostile roommate situation. Neither partner feels respected by the other, and neither understands the difficulties of the other’s daily life. Near the beginning of the movie, we see a few fights and learn that Catherine “wants out” and Caleb is fine with that because he “wants peace.” They aren’t happy.

Caleb’s parents apparently went through a similar rough time in the past, and his father asks Caleb to hold off on the divorce for forty days. During this time, Caleb will be reading and doing “The Love Dare,” written in a day-by-day format in a journal by Caleb’s dad. The plot of the film consists of Caleb attempting to use “The Love Dare” to rescue his wife’s heart, even when he doesn’t like it, along with Catherine’s response to his attempts.

Although the acting by a mostly volunteer cast may not be Hollywood “A-list” (Kirk Cameron does a pretty good job), the situation feels real. The issues are real. The relationship is real. Caleb’s friend at the firehouse, Michael, is a voice of wisdom and provides a major part of the film’s Christian perspective. “You can’t just follow your heart,” he says once. “Your heart can be deceived. You have to lead your heart.” Love is not merely a feeling, it’s a decision. “When most people say, ‘for better or for worse,’” Michael says at another point, “they really only mean ‘for better.’” I think he makes a really good point—divorce is sadly way too common today, and I think this may be a big part of the reason why.

Caleb and Catherine don’t feel happy in their relationship. They don’t feel close. Their “for better” days seem to be over forever. But when Caleb, with the support of Michael and the help of his dad, makes the decision to fight for his marriage using “The Love Dare,” he is making the decision to love his wife, even though rescuing her heart is painful, not to mention a lot of work.

The spirituality of Fireproof is from a born-again Christian perspective that shows Caleb’s conversion as an instantaneously life-changing moment, but I think the message of “you can’t give what you don’t have” rings true for Catholics as well. I definitely believe that the love of Christ does transform our lives and our relationships, allowing us to love more completely and perfectly than we could on our own. The Catholic perspective goes even further, by saying that marriage is actually a sacrament of God’s love for humanity, of Christ’s love for his Church. Because of this, the value of marriage in society can’t be overstated, and I think Fireproof can really help strengthen marriages in order for them to be what God made them to be.

Go to your local theater and check it out for yourself! Daniel and I weren’t disappointed, and I don’t think you will be either.

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