As a marriage ministry with the word "fire" in the title, we often get asked our opinion on the Fireproof movie. Although we did not find the movie to be so dramatically compelling, we do think that it brought some valuable insights regarding family life. We appreciate any material that gets couples talking about their marriage and refocusing their energies on making their families better.
One of our first thoughts, being called Family Fire ourselves, is the fire imagery. Should a marriage be fireproof? Isn't marriage meant to have a little fire within it? Just like a furnace within a home, fire in the right place is a good thing. In one of the later scenes, the fire-fighter exclaims that they are lighting a fire in the fire station, referring to a steamy kiss in the fire truck bay. Having a flaming desire for God and each other within a marriage is a good thing! Who wants a marriage that is frigid and cold? At Family Fire, we talk about our desire to stoke the Holy Spirit's fire within your home. This is not a raging house fire, but a spiritual hearth at the center that warms, nourishes, and guides all who enter there.
Nevertheless, there is some good value in this movie. We appreciated the call to step up and place our relationships on project status. When we get intentional about working to model Christ's sacrificial love in our relationships, we and our families will be blessed. We liked the focus on behaving your way into a change of heart. Not only is it a good corrective to a false cultural call to follow your heart in every whim, it's also a way God's Spirit works in our lives. When we choose to apply ourselves to the challenges in our path instead of running from them, God changes our hearts and grows us in ways that we might not have imagined.
The movie also shows how the seeds for an affair are planted and cultivated in damaged relationships. We can see how the behaviors follow desires, which follow emotions, which grow outside a marriage when the marriage no longer provides positive affirmation. Emotionally starved people will go where they're fed. We can also see how bitterness develops when pain in a relationship goes unaddressed and forgiveness is not practiced.
The movie fell short for us in a few different areas. The movie was very preachy about Christianity with a view toward conversion being necessary to change a broken marriage. At times the movie's need to preach the gospel interfered with natural dialog between characters. There can be healing and reconciliation even without the conversion experience. We can learn and practice Biblical skills for improving our marriage and see positive changes in our relationships, even while remaining outside the faith. Of course having a mutual Christian commitment within a marriage and working together to pursue God's plan for your relationship is without question the most successful.
The amateur acting was at times plainly visible. A volunteer cast is admirable, though a bit distracting. The roles of the various parents seemed to be more like caricatures than showing any real depth. There was a one-sidedness in the portrayal of the wife, as her only faults stemmed from being neglected by her husband. The reality in most marriages is that both parties bear responsibility for the collapse of the relationship.
While this was by no means a great piece of cinema, it is a great starting point for a dialog about marriages relationships and the investment that they need to keep them healthy.