Fireproof and Sexism

I recently saw the movie Fireproof, and would like to offer my comments. I heard many colleagues say that that they believe that the movie, athough good, was sexist. That sorta discouraged me from getting it, but I wanted to do something to take my mind off my troubles, and so I went out and bought a copy of it, and watched it.

First of all, at the beginning scene when Caleb and Catherine are fighting, my first thought was that they both needed to be taken over someone’s knee, and given a good hard spanking. I don’t know if it was the intent or not, but both Caleb and Catherine came across as extremely selfish towards one another. I was immediately turned off by both of their characters. [Of course, they were the main characters so there really wasn’t much I could do about it.]

What I was impressed with was the change that took place in Caleb. You began to see him slowly but surely loose that selfish attitude, and start giving himself. Ultimately, it not only leads to him giving of himself more to his wife, but ultimately, surrendering his life to Christ. After a while, you really do start to admire how Caleb is changing, and how God is taking away his selfish attitude, and completely transforming him.

However, Catherine was another story. Here is a woman who remained, throughout most of the movie, a self-centered, unfaithful, unforgiving woman. I could not help but see her as the villian for the most of this movie. Even after Caleb repents, this woman snubs his attempts to win her back. In my mind, her attitude remained the same throughout much of the movie. She was extremely selfish, unfaithful, and unforgiving.

Now, the end of the story was interesting. I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen it, but Caleb does something incredibly selfless, and that is when you start seeing a real change in Catherine. She changes very quickly, in contrast to Caleb, who changed slowly over time. I think this can be attributed to the fact that she saw the work of Christ already in Caleb, and saw what her selfishness had done to him.

The only thing I can say is that, if this movie were sexist, it would seem that, from a Biblical standpoint, Catherine came across as far less noble than Caleb. Hence, the sexism would have to be towards women, and not towards men. Both Caleb and Catherine had very similar faults, but it was Caleb who first recognized these faults, and worked hard to change, even turning his life over to Christ. You had to wonder about Catherine, though, and, throughout most of the movie, it was evident that no change had taken place in her life.

However, I want to turn the corner here, and say that I don’t believe the point of the movie was to say that one sex was more holy than the other. I think the point in setting up two characters who are extremely self-centered is to show that marriage must be, as my pastor always says, a giving of each other. Neither Catherine nor Caleb were giving themselves to one another at the beginning of the film. They were selfish, self-centered brats. It wasn’t until Christ got ahold of Caleb, and taught him how to selflessly love his wife, that the real solution to the problem came.

I think, if anything what the movie is saying is that we need to love one another selflessly even when we are not loved back, because Christ did the same thing for us. When husbands love their wives in that way [and vise versa with Caleb’s parents’ situation], they show them the greatest love of all, and that is how you can survive difficult times in marriage.

Now, as for them endorsing Debbie Maken, that probably had more to do with the Christian companies that were supporting the film, than with the filmmakers themselves. I don’t think it played any role in the plot of the film.


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