4 Stars - Inspiring
Marriage can be one of the most rewarding and yet difficult of life’s experiences. When we find someone we are sure we want to be with for the rest of our lives, through better or worse, we do not expect that the fire of passion can go out. But without consistent care, over time and often without our understanding, walls can go up, loneliness can increase and resentments can grow until we feel as though we can’t stand another day married to this person. It is then that a choice must be made: we must seek to rekindle the passion with our spouse, live in a loveless relationship or leave the marriage to live alone or seek love elsewhere. That choice is convincingly explored in Alex Kendrick’s film “Fireproof.”
An overtly Christian film which clearly presents both the gospel message and the sanctity of marriage, the story focuses on a young married couple named Caleb and Catherine Holt (Kirk Cameron and Erin Bethea). Not believers in Jesus Christ, Caleb and Catherine are struggling. Caleb is a captain in the fire department who is used to the authority and respect that such a position gives him. Catherine is the public relations officer of the local hospital and understands the importance of good relationships. But when Caleb will not give Catherine love and Catherine will not give Caleb respect, their relationship dissolves into a feuding and bitter contest of wills. When both stubbornly demand that their own needs be met first, they back themselves into a corner with divorce as the obvious destination. It is then that Caleb is challenged by his father.
John Holt (Harris Malcolm) has only recently been reconciled with his own wife, Caleb’s mother, Cheryl (Phyllis Malcolm). The process by which this had been accomplished was a 40-day “love-dare” in which relational changes were made one day at a time. Putting this process into a leather notebook, John challenges his son to simply give his marriage 40 more days and see what might happen. Reluctantly, and as a favor to his father rather than out of any real desire to stay with Catherine, Caleb agrees.
The first day’s requirement is that Caleb simply not say anything mean or critical to Catherine. The second day Caleb is to not only say nothing critical but also to do one act of kindness. The succeeding days have similar simple requirements in which Caleb changes the way he acts toward his wife. The strength of the story is that their journey is a realistic one in which Caleb’s reluctance and half-hearted efforts are met by Catherine’s doubts and mistrust. When seven years of selfishness and disappointment have become the pattern of a marriage, a few simple changes over a few days are obviously not enough to heal the wound. But, over time, and with a growing sense of their need for help from the One who gives love and the ability to love and forgive, change comes in both of their lives.
Using the experience of firemen that you don’t leave a partner during a fire, the message of this film is that when disaster comes to a marriage, that is not the time to leave each other, that is the time to work it through together. That is a worthy message for everyone.
- When Caleb puts his money into buying a boat for himself rather than caring for the needs of both Catherine and himself, his heart becomes divided. Have you ever given your heart to something at the expense of your marriage or relationship? What happened? What helped you save the relationship or deal with its loss?
- Caleb did not understand that his practice of watching pornography on the computer was destroying Catherine’s ability to trust him and be his real-life lover. Why do you think she reacted as she did? Why couldn’t Caleb understand her reaction and what is it about a man’s use of pornography that debilitates his wife and their sexual relationship?
- The ability for Caleb to sacrificially love Catherine and humbly ask for her forgiveness comes after his understanding of the love that Jesus has for him. Do you understand sacrificial love? How does Jesus’ unending love for you help you understand true love?