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The Fireproof Phenomenon

This film touched me in a deeper way than I expected.
By Dave Boehi


February 2009

My wife, Merry, and I finally saw the film, Fireproof, last week.   We may have been the last couple here at FamilyLife to see the movie; we missed the all-staff meeting where it was shown, and we missed it in the theaters last fall. So we watched it on DVD, and my thought when it ended was, This is a movie that God will use.

It’s a low-budget film, and some of the acting feels stilted. But the story (of a firefighter fighting to save his marriage) is what counts here, and it touched me at a deeper level than I expected. 

The film developed a number of themes such as the importance of repentance and sacrifice in a marriage, the destructive nature of pornography, and the danger of opening yourself up emotionally to someone of the opposite sex when your marriage is in trouble. Since watching it, I’ve been thinking a lot about the parallel between a man’s love for a wife who rejects him and God’s unconditional love for each of us when we stray from a close relationship with Him.  It was as if the filmmakers put part of the fifth chapter of Ephesians into story form:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her … So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church (v. 25, 28-29).

If you haven’t seen Fireproof, I heartily recommend it—for couples and for families. (There’s no foul language, no sex, and the only scenes that could qualify as “violence” would be two tense firefighter rescues.)

But this is much more than a normal film. From the outset, filmmakers Alex and Stephen Kendrick sought to create something that would change lives. And that is what’s happening with Fireproof

A quick online search last week revealed that the DVD, released in late January, was the number three seller among all films on Amazon. In the customer review section, the majority gave it high marks (though some people rated the film low because of its religious message). One husband wrote that he and his wife were pleased to finally find a movie “that seems to understand what enduring marriage and love … are really all about. Most movies portray love as a state of blissful happiness—which it sometimes is—but miss the larger picture of love as an ongoing project that two people work on, working hard and selflessly, for many years.”

The Fireproof website lists hundreds of testimonials from viewers who told how the movie had touched them. For example:

Fireproof is an amazing movie. My husband and I were right where Caleb and Catherine were. I watched the movie with a friend of mine and ended up bawling my eyes out. I called my husband the next day and asked him to watch it with me, and he agreed. We are back together and things are going great! I had never allowed God to be a part of my marriage, and now I am allowing Him to be. Like Caleb says in the movie, I have a love for my wife that I have never had before.

And the movie is only part of the story. In the film, the main character takes on his father’s challenge to complete the “Love Dare”—a 40-day quest to show unselfish love and commitment to his wife. And now the new book, The Love Dare, has not only become a best-seller—last week it was number five on Amazon—but it also has been changing lives.

One young woman left a message on FamilyLife’s website with a remarkable story.  At age 24 she had been married and divorced, and had a 4-year-old son. “We tried getting back together several times and it just wouldn’t work,” she said.  She saw Fireproof last fall and felt it “was the story of my life!” 

She bought The Love Dare and decided to do it for her ex-husband.   “Like the book warned, I didn’t take it lightly.”  She also bought him the book, and he began reading it … and within two months they were remarried. “By God’s grace, power, and our obedience, we are a happy family again,” she wrote.

How many films and books do you know that have made such an impact? I think that Fireproof and The Love Dare have touched a nerve in many people in this country, and we’re going to hear many more stories like this in the months to come.

 

Copyright © 2009 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.



Meet the Author: Dave Boehi

Dave Boehi is a senior editor at FamilyLife. He has written one book (I Still Do), coauthored the Preparing for Marriage workbook, edited dozens of books and Bible studies, and produces the FamilyLife e-newsletter Help & Hope. Dave and his wife, Merry, live in Little Rock, Arkansas, and have two married daughters.

 

 

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