I watched the movie “Fireproof” again, and the difficulty I had with it before has increased, along with the conviction that if I had tried it on my husband, it may have “worked” and “saved our marriage,” but it would not have provoked my husband to love or respect me, and would have destroyed me. Indeed, his abuse would have increased, as it already had in the years I tried to do all the loving things church leaders recommend that wives do for their husbands. The only way it would have worked in our marriage, is if my husband had committed to loving me with a genuine love. As it is, every time he behaved the least bit loving, I responded with the same. Often the loving behavior was a set up to get me to trust him enough so he could jerk the rug from under my feet and totally humiliate me. As Mrs. Caleb in “Fireproof” did, I also learned to treat any nice behavior from my husband with suspicion. Not once has that suspicion been unwarranted.
But now a closer look at the movie:
First, the premise of the movie is that either spouse can save their marriage by using the Love Dare as a tool. This spouse must commit to loving their spouse unconditionally, no matter what their partner does.
This is just plain bad theology based on a half truth. While it is true that God loves us unconditionally, it is not true that He protects us from the consequences of our behavior. The Bible speaks of God divorcing his wife, Israel because of her continual rejection and whoring after other Gods. The Bible is also clear that even though He loves us unconditionally, continued rejection or advantage-taking or sin will be rewarded with Hell fire. Yet the Love Dare requires that a spouse refuse to confront his or her husband or wife for any behavior—including sinful, selfish, or evil behavior against the spouse—and be all “loving” and nicey-nice instead. If the book and movie limited that to 40 to 80 days, that would be one thing. But the whole idea is that this unconditional love is to go on until one of the spouses dies, regardless of whether the recipient of that “love” chooses to respond with loving behaviors in return or finally grows to “deserve” it.
Because of the abuse scene in the movie, where Caleb screams in his wife’s face and denigrates her, the premise of the movie also implies that a person who is abused should try the “Love Dare,” and implies that they would be successful at “saving” the marriage. However, the “Love Dare” is sold as an ideal that a person should continue to implement even though the initial 40 days did not bring about positive change. This is VERY DANGEROUS for abused spouses. Not only does it ignore the fact that one of the characteristics of abusers is that they see loving behavior as a weakness, and when they see weakness, they mount an attack to totally destroy the “weak” person. In other words, if the selfish spouse is also an abuser, his wife would be quickly damaged by even TRYING the “Love Dare.” And if her belief in the rightness of the “Love Dare” is strong enough to convince her to stick with it, there is a very high likelihood that she would be destroyed through illness—often a mental illness like anxiety or depression, both known for shortening lives and/or being extremely debilitating--or through violent death at the hands of her husband. And the resulting destruction to the children would continue generation after generation, resulting in more abuse and/or murder, or more depression/anxiety/nightmares.
Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel,"a story about a woman who grapples with her husband's demands that she submit--no matter what. Please visit www.wanetadawn.com
Chronically Self-Centered Spouse Series - Nope, I'm not doing this series. Nope, Visionary Womanhood is not doing this series. But I do thank Natalie for linking to it over there a couple years back...
6 months ago