It’s crazy to think that a man from Indiana that usually walked around in white t-shirts, jeans, and no shoes became one of the greatest contemporary Christian artist of all time. It’s also incredible that his legacy has left such a huge impression on Christian music as we know it today, even 18 years after his death. Rich Mullins was a unique man with honest music and a reckless faith. He wrote several songs that are still all-time Christian hits, including Awesome God and Sometimes by Step. His life inspired the 2014 film, Ragamuffin.
This movie is not your typical “Christian movie.” In fact, the filmmakers avoided using this term about the film. They explained that a movie can’t “be baptized and follow Christ,” but you can make movies about Christians. This movie is just that. It’s a movie about a Christian, a Christian that has struggles that many of us have. Here are a few things that I observed from this portrayal of Rich Mullins’ life.
Having An Estranged Father, Brokenness, and Loneliness Had Lifelong Consequences
Mullins had a difficult childhood. His father was a farmer, and although he was the oldest boy, Rich (who went by his middle name Wayne as a child) was not suited for life on the farm. He was constantly making mistakes while working on the farm that drove his father crazy and drove a wedge further between them. His father was incapable of expressing his love toward Rich because he couldn't understand his musical proficiency and lack of ability in farming. This resulted in tension in their relationship that never healed in his father’s lifetime and had repercussions throughout the rest of Rich’s life. Rich struggled with being different and feeling inadequate. He had a lot of anger and bitterness, not just toward his father, but toward those in authority, especially when he didn't agree with them. He struggled with feeling alone, which sometimes drove those who were close to him away. When Rich finally found a man to be a fatherly mentor to him (Morris Howard), he passed away not very long after Rich moved to be close to him, which left Rich even more hurt and confused.
Because of the bad relationship he had with his father, Rich had so much personal brokenness, he didn't know what to do with it. It wasn't until the end of film when he goes on a personal retreat with his mentor Brennan Manning that Rich really has the opportunity to forgive his father and to start the healing process, and that healing process was inevitably cut short when his life ended not long after. Before this retreat, he repressed a lot of his hurt and it had major consequences. It’s an important reminder that when we as Christian recognize those kind of problems in our lives, we should do what we can to deal with them, not bottle them up.
No One’s Perfect, Especially Christians
Because of his personal struggles, Rich struggle his whole life with loneliness. He never felt like he fit it, as much as he desperately wanted to fit it, which isolated him even when he was around people. As a result, he tried to fill that loneliness with earthly solutions that didn't work. He struggled with alcoholism and smoking, which is portrayed honestly in the film. He tried to fill that void with relationships, first with dating relationships, then with friendships. All of them failed to fill the void in his life. It was not until the previous mentioned retreat that Rich began to understand that God was the only one that could fill that loneliness. This is a powerful reminder for all of us that worldly pursuits cannot fill our loneliness. Only the love of the Lord can do that.
Probably the most powerful lesson portrayed in the film Ragamuffin is the reminder that no one is perfect. Rich Mullins was definitely not a picture perfect Christian. There are half a dozen scenes of him drinking and about nine scenes of him smoking. Because his father cursed, he also sometimes struggled with cussing. (Between him and his father, the word d---n is used about a dozen times, p--s is used once, and hell is used twice in a swearing context) When Rich finds out the girl he was in love with is engaged to someone else, he smashes the glass of the phone booth where he called her. When he shows up drunk to Morris’ funeral, Sam (Morris' son and Rich's friend) gets so frustrated with Rich that when he tried to confront Rich outside about it, Sam pushes him against the wall. Rich often disrespected authority. He would get mad when he didn't like the way things were going. He had a very difficult time coping with change.
Some have been shocked that this content is portrayed in a “Christian film,” but as I said earlier, this is not a traditional movie in this category. The filmmakers painted the struggles of Rich’s life in an honest way on purpose and to great effect. This also is a reminder of what the concept of being a ragamuffin is all about. When Rich meets Brennan Manning, Brennan tells Rich that a ragamuffin is a beggar at the door of God’s mercy, and one that fully acknowledges their brokenness before God. That's an important lesson for all of us. We need to be aware of our own inefficiencies before God so that we can acknowledge that we are not capable of getting into heaven by our works. It was important for them to show the imperfections of Rich’s life in order for this truth to shine through. It really challenged me to think about what it means to live out my faith in the knowledge of God’s grace, not my own works.
The Church Of Rich’s Generation Struggled With Legalism Over God’s Grace
One of significant points of the film that was somewhat disappointing to me was the way that churches and evangelical preachers of the time were portrayed. They all focused way too much on the rules and legalism of the Bible and not enough on God’s grace and forgiveness. The preachers in the film (except Brennan Manning) are all portrayed as “Bible thumpers” who didn't really understand the power of God’s grace as demonstrated through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. They instead focused way too much on the rules of the Bible, and not enough on demonstrating grace or helping the poor.
Now I was not alive for most of the time period of the film (I was born in 1990) and I was too little to really remember the rest of it, but I don’t think that all the churches and preachers of that time were like that. That was definitely Rich’s perception of them, but I don’t think they were all that ignorant of the truth of God’s grace and hardened by legalism and hypocrisy. It’s really rather narrow-minded to assume that there were, but I guess that was part of Rich’s personal struggle.
I believe that we need to be careful when we get harshly critical of our brothers and sisters in Christ in front of the unbelieving world (like in a film), because it’s that kind of judgment that non-Christians are afraid you will pass on them and turns them off to our faith. We are supposed to use judgment in accountability within the context of the body of Christ, but we must use this privilege with caution and for the purpose of edification. I think that is the spirit with which it is done in the film, but it is still wise to use caution when using this method to illustrate a point.
Rich’s Life Was Whirlwind
This film attempts to cover most of Rich’s life, focusing primarily on the 14 year timeframe of his music career. His life took him from Indiana where he grew up, to Cincinnati for college, then Nashville to start his career, Wichita for a time, and eventually he ended up moving onto an Indian reservation in Arizona to teach the children music. There was so much that happened in the 41 years of his life. However, because of the limitations of time, there were many parts of Rich’s life that were condensed or even omitted.
The girl he dates in the movie (named Jess) represents one of three women Rich dated in his young adult life, one to which he was engaged, but she called it off (The film only mentions Jess’ engagement to someone else). The character of Sam Howard was exaggerated for the film, so that people would have a better connection with his father when he died (Sam was never Rich’s roommate). The character of Justin (Rich’s touring friend) is a representation of several guys that toured with Rich. One of the most obvious omissions from Rich’s life was his friend David Strasser, also known as Beaker. Beaker was one of Rich’s best friends and collaborated with him often in the later part of Rich’s career. Because of Beaker's absence, there were also several of the songs they collaborated on that did not make it into the film (like Sometimes by Step). There is also only one passing reference to his Ragamuffin Band on a sign.
This film does a great job of portraying the life and legacy of Rich Mullins. His brother Dave Mullins was one of the producers on the film, and I think it really shows. However, because of the language, drinking, and the PG-13 rating, I would only recommend the movie for children about 12 and up. For children younger than 12, use parental discretion about viewing it.
Although I did know some about Rich Mullins prior to seeing this film, I learned so much in this portrayal that really opened my eyes to not only the points I mentioned here, but also the way that his story has impacted the next generation of Christians and Christian artists as they pursue a faith that’s as genuine and reckless as his. I encourage all of you to watch this movie if you haven’t (available on Netflix and many video retails) and to remember God’s grace as you shape your life in response it.
[If you want to read more about Rich's life and how he personally inspired me, click here]
With the release of the new Cinderella movie, I want to take the opportunity to talk about this incredible character and what I love about her. But to illustrate why I love her, I think I need to talk about the arguments that many have used against her. Back in my teen years, I used to love the Cheetah Girls movies. I loved their music and their sisterhood. One of the songs from their first movie was Cinderella, and although I still like parts of it, it does illustrate the flaws that many in today’s culture find in Cinderella’s character.
This song is very much in line with feminist arguments that we can do it all ourselves and don’t need a man. I have a problem with people blaming Cinderella for creating the problem. I don’t see that in her at all. In fact, she is probably one of the strongest heroines Disney has made to date, especially with the way she is portrayed in the new movie. There is so much more to her than her love story or her happily ever after, more than most people realize. As I watch the original movie as well as the new one (I went on opening day!), I have come up with a list of five qualities she has that make me want to be like her.
It was important for her to have a selfless heart when she was faced with loving those that were difficult to love. He continued to be kind and selfless, even when she received no kindness in return and when those receiving her kindness did not deserve it. This kindness she had towards all was inspiring to those who knew her, and it should be inspiring to us too.
Something that stands out to be about Cinderella’s courage is that she was not necessarily bold or brave. These tracts are sometimes made synonymous with courage, but that may not be completely true. She had the courage to stand up for herself but chose not to on many occasions. It reminds of the quote about courage from The Princess Diaries, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear.” In this way, Cinderella almost showed more courage by not standing up to her stepmother, because she overcame her fears and sadness but made the judgment that honoring her parents’ wishes was more important that being right. That’s an important lesson for all of us.
Although I don’t completely agree with the line of the song “No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dreams that you wish will come true,” I do think there is a grain of truth in it. As Christians, we should never assume that God will always fulfill our greatest wishes. That’s just not true. There are some dreams that will probably never be fulfilled in this life. However, I think that what a Christian should do is put their hope and trust in the Lord, not in their dreams. Because once your heart is in line with the Lord, He will give you dreams that are in line with His will. Those are the ones He’s more likely to fulfill. But even if he doesn't He will teach you to be satisfied in His hope, and that is so much better than any dream that can be fulfilled in this life.
The word submit is properly defined in the military sense, choosing to put yourself under the authority of your commanding officer. Even if you don’t agree with what they are doing, you keep yourself under that authority because that is what is being asked of you. This is exactly what Cinderella does. Out of respect for her parents, she places herself under her stepmother’s authority, even though she proves to be less that deserving of that authority. Cinderella has to purpose herself to obey, even when it was hard. We should all learn to do likewise.
When I did the same Disney Character Challenge for myself, I listed Cinderella as the one of two characters I wanted to be the most like (the other one I've save for another post). After saying I wanted a heart like Cinderella, I said, “I hope and pray to have a testimony that not only reflects a good heart, but that also brings glory and honor to my Savior, and I hope that is a story worth telling someday.” I still hoping and praying this will is true of my own life story. Despite what the Cheetah Girls tried to tell us, Cinderella would be a great person to be like (although I hope to do a little better job of making sure my shoes stay on my feet during special occasions! haha). I hope that some of you are able to follow her example.
Since the release of the Fifty Shades movies, I have found myself increasingly frustrated with the lack of movies that really teach what love really is. Most romantic movies today are either inappropriate, because they concentrate too much on the physical side of love, or they are unrealistic, because they concentrate too much on the emotional side of love. Many are in both camps. And from the perspective of a Christian, I believe that many of these films are an insult to the way that God designed love and romance. But we view them as merely “entertainment” or “romantic comedies.” Now, I’m not saying that we can’t enjoy some of these movies within reason, but they should not be where we learn to define love or where we should find edification for our relationships. It's rare to find movies that do either of these jobs correctly.
To help with this problem, I have come up with a list of five romantic movies that do a much better job of portraying love and relationships as God intended it. Each one has different concepts about love that defy the cultural expectations of what it is meant to be. I don’t want to spoil these movies if you haven’t seen them, but I want to highlight the different aspect of love they emphasize.
Old Fashioned – Love that is Chivalrous
Our culture tries to sell us romance that has very little respect or courtesy involved. Love and the fuzzy feelings come first, then you figure out how you relate to each other. This should not be. The respect needs to come first and be part of the foundation on which the relationship is built. If it’s not in the foundation of the relationship, it very difficult to put it in later. Old Fashioned reminds us how to put that into the foundation of a relationship, and is a great movie, especially if you are dating or married. I would recommend it to teens and adults.
The Song – Love that is Passionate and Forgiving
However, it should not be the foundation of what the relationship is about. Movies and books like Fifty Shades portray sex as the primary source of character development. How messed up is that? Aside from inappropriate implications, sex isn't the only way we should get to know someone! If your spouse is only there to fulfill a sexual need, then there’s a problem. The Song portrays the consequences of this, but gives hope in the end about how to restore it.
We also learn that love forgives. Even if you haven’t seen the movie, most people know that Solomon messed up big time when it came to relationships. One point in which the film differs from the original story is that Jed and Rose have reconciliation at the end of the movie. I won’t reveal exactly how for those that haven’t seen it, but it is a beautiful picture of the forgiveness that God gave us through His Son. The Song is a great Christian film that I would recommend (although it may not be as appropriate for children).
Fireproof – Love that Endures the Fire
Those who are married shouldn't have to divorce because just don’t love each other or they can't get along anymore. During those kinds of trials, they have to purpose themselves to love each other, even if the other one don’t deserve to be loved. That’s what Christ did for us. When we are aware of how much Christ loved us, it compels us to love others in the same way, especially spouses and families. Fireproof is an excellent reminder of this truth and I would recommend this movie to anyone.
Love Comes Softly – Love that Grows Over Time
Love Comes Softly teaches its title as the main moral. Despite the popular romances we love in our favorite chick flicks, love develops over time. It does not happen instantly. I personally don’t believe that “love at first sight” really exists in romance. I believe in attraction at first sight, but that is not enough to merit a romance. Love is something that grows over time if you choose to work on it, because its a decision, not a feeling. Sometimes, you might be working on it when you don’t realize it. But it’s something that has to be worked on, not something that you can fall in or out of. It’s a matter a choice. Love Comes Softly is a great example of this and I would recommend it to anyone
The Swan Princess – Love that Endures a Lifetime
What I love about this movie is not the happily ever after, but the fact that they declare that their love for each other will endure longer than life itself. That's powerful! The love they have for each other is not conditional on the other’s actions, but on the vow that they made to love each other, no matter what. The feature song of the film, Far Longer Than Forever, is a powerful reminder of the comfort and peace one can find in knowing that the one you love has an enduring loyalty to you and you alone. You can't find that in the fuzzy romance or the physical intimacy of a relationship. That’s what makes The Swan Princess stand out from all other fairy tales. This is a film I would recommend to anyone.
Our culture has sold us so many versions of love that are messed up, we have brought into them. The couples that are so popular from our favorite chick flicks are usually in relationships that are about the fulfillment of personal needs – physical, emotional, spiritual, or a combination. Even if they are “in love,” it is often more about fulfilling the personal need than about the other’s needs. It becomes a love that is very selfish in its nature. To me, it's very disheartening.
The characters in these five movies are different. They are the ones that learned to give up themselves for the one they loved. They all made mistakes to get there, but through their trials and adventures, they learned to love the other as only Christ could through them, and that is so much more beautiful than any romance our culture tries to sell us. As we watch these and other romantic movies, let us do our best to praise those that portray love as God intended it, and discern when love is not portrayed correctly. Hopefully, it will change the way we see everything.
Fights can get pretty ugly, especially between women. This has been very clearly demonstrated over the last several weeks in regards to the release of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie. As I have been on the book team for Pulling Back the Shades, I have encountered articles and comments of women who are passionately arguing for Fifty Shades. These books and this movie are a hot button topic. Women are obsessed, or dare I say addicted, to them. They are very adamant to defend their choice, and call out anyone who questions that choice. The love of these books and this movie is so great, I even heard that fist fight broke out between two women at the premiere in our local theater because one of them wouldn't be quite. Yikes!
I have been thinking about what to write on this blog, I feel compelled to address the five main arguments I have seen women making in defense of these books and the movie. I am not an experienced writer or debater, but I will do my best to explain their arguments and the answers from both Christian and logical perspectives, in hopes that everyone can see my point.
1) Don’t Judge Them Unless You've Read Them
This is by far the most common argument for the books, and honestly the most frustrating to me personally. They claim that it is impossible for us to make any sort of educated judgment if we have not read them. Christians and non-Christian readers alike are saying we should read them for ourselves before we decide if they are good or bad.
There is major fault in this line of logic that is very easy to see. I will illustrate by asking a few questions.
- Do I have to be try cocaine to know that I don’t want to be addicted?
- Do I have to have a heart attack to know it doesn't feel good and should be avoided?
- Do I have to experience suicide to know its consequences?
I think these examples should be sufficient to illustrating the error in this line of logic. I don’t have to experience any of those things to know that they are not wise or good for me. In order to know pros and cons in any of these cases, there are two ways to figure it out before diving in: research and wise counsel.
Research should be an important part of every decision we make if we want to be wise. For the Christian, the first place we should look is the Bible, to see if God’s word reveals the truth about a particular subject. Then, we should look to those who are well-informed to seek out the right opinions. Sometimes, your best friend’s opinion or your friend's recommendation isn't going to cut it, if you want to make a wise choice. Look up reviews or articles to see if something is worth your investment. Then, go seek out the wisdom of someone you trust, like an older mentor, to see if they think it is wise to pursue. If after all that all lights are still green, then you can go into it without regrets. If not, then you should probably avoid it.
As far as Fifty Shades is concerned, I have not, nor do I plan to, read the books or see the movies. But this does not mean I cannot have an educated opinion about it. I have done my research. I have read Pulling Back the Shades, several posts and articles, and plot summaries. I have several people in my life older and wiser than me that think it’s not beneficial, and I trust their counsel. I have done the same thing (researched and sort out counsel) for both the Twilight saga and the Harry Potter saga, and I came to similar conclusions (Those stories may be saved for other posts). I do not walk into this discussion with uneducated answers, and assuming that everyone who disagrees can’t have educated answers is faulty logic and an arrogant assumption of their part.
2) But It’s a Love Story
I have made a comparison chart of one of the greatest descriptions of love to ever be written, 1 Corinthians 13, and love as it is portrayed specifically in Christian's actions (based on my research of the book). It’s pretty obvious they don’t match up. In fact, most of his actions are the opposite of love, as the Corinthians passage defines it.
It grieves me to think that so many women have been deceived by these books, which are a wolf in sheep’s clothing as far as love and romance are concerned. Christian and Ana’s story disguises itself as a love story when it reality, it’s the exact opposite of what love should be, according to 1 Corinthians 13. Don’t be deceived.
3) If They Both Consented, What’s the Problem?
Many Christians struggle with having a “sexual theology.” In other words, we don’t bring God and His word into the bedroom, and as a result, we become sexual atheists that buy into the definition of sex that our culture sells us (a game between consenting adults). That's when we fall into the danger of making us our own sexual reality, just like Christian Grey. I don’t think I fully understood this until I watched this video. This is John Mark Comer, author of the book “Loveology” (This video was uploaded to Jefferson Bethke’s YouTube channel, one of my favorites Youtubers).
When you consider the way that we should view sex according to this teaching, the kind of behavior that is glorified in Fifty Shades is even more dehumanizing than what John describes. For Christian, Ana became an object for his self-gratification, and he had enough sexual partners previously that Christian has been hallowed out, just like John talks about. Those are the major problems with their sexual relationship, despite the fact that it was consensual.
4) But They Get Married
Many women claim that because they get married, and because they have some sort of “happily ever after,” that the story is good. They also talk about how Ana’s love changes him and makes him into a better person. According to their logic, how can the story be all bad if "all's well that ends well"? I get back to this question in a moment.
If it is true that “All’s well that ends well,” then why does the Shakespeare’s play of this title result in a man being forced to stay in a marriage with a women he didn't love? Because Bertram was initially forced to marry Helena, he runs away, telling her that he would not return to her unless she got his family’s signet ring off his finger and became pregnant with his child. She has to use deceitful means to fulfill this conditions, and when she does, he reluctantly returns to her. There is meant to be an irony in this title that I think is somewhat reflected in the Fifty Shades series. Even though it is portrayed as a “happily ever after” ending, it may not be as resolved as it is meant to look. If it were more realistic, the ending would not be so pretty.
5) If You Don’t Like It, Just Leave It Alone
This is the argument where the fans basically tell those of us that voice an opposing opinion to mind our own business. They tell us that if we think it’s wrong, just leave it alone and let those that do enjoy it do whatever they want. They tell us it’s their choice to read the books or see the movie, and we have no right to criticize their choices if they do.
There is some validity to this argument if you are a Christian and they are not, and let me explain why. We cannot hold a non-Christian accountable to your personal moral standard if they haven’t chosen to live by that standard themselves. In that respect, they are totally right. I feel like that is one of the easiest moments for hypocrisy to creep in and taint our witness to non-believers.
That being said, I don’t think Christians should keep their mouths shut if they believe this to be wrong. If you do your research, you will find that these books are doing damage to many marriages, are drawing women towards the BDSM lifestyle, and are tainting God’s design for sexuality. We should be grieved to hear these stories, to the point that we want to take action, but how? If you are convicted that this is wrong, then how to we tell them the truth without judging or “Bible-thumping”?
We must be careful when approaching the situation because these stories have created a moral and emotional fantasy in their minds, and that is one of the reasons they are quick to call anyone out for judging them. Did you catch that? This story alters a moral reality, one in which things that were once black and white are now grey, and this alteration is hidden behind all the emotion and good feelings the women get from reading them. Because their moral reality has been effected, they have become quick to judge anyone who questions their choice. We need to keep this in the back of our minds and the front of our prayers as we come to these discussions.
I believe that we should think of what we are doing as a warning. If I know someone is going the wrong direction while traveling, I will tell them to reconsider their route if the opportunity comes for me to tell them. If I think someone is about to walk into a dangerous situation, I will do my best to warn them if I am given the opportunity, but in the end allow them to make their own choice. This is the way I try to think of it. That is the best mindset we can have in this discussion, especially when dealing with non-Christians. If you have a personal relationship with the person you discussing this with, they will hopeful be able to see the concern you have for them if you use this approach.
Speaking the Truth In Love
I hope these tips will help you in your discussions about Fifty Shades. This is not necessarily in-depth or definitive, but I hope it will help you see that many of the women that are infatuated with these books and movies have been deceived. This deception is worked so deeper into the themes of the book, it has manifest itself in these arguments consistently. It isn't always easy to reverse a deception, especially one that is becoming so deeply embedded in our culture. But this is a topic that we cannot avoid anymore. We must do what we can to take back sexuality from Satan’s grasp so that we can reveal its divine and holy intent to a world that needs to know the truth. Now that I know the truth, I must do what I can to speak the truth in love. I hope some of you will join me in this fight.
Valentine’s Day can sometimes be a real pain. Seriously. If you don’t have a valentine, you either feel left out or you end up annoyed with the world for putting this day up on a pedestal just to sell cards, roses, and candy. I've been on both sides. More recently, I've been getting frustrated when people use Valentine’s Day to emphasis love in the wrong ways. The fluffy love they talk about is the love of fairy tales, the type of love dependent on feelings and emotions, and ends up being quite selfish. That’s not what God intended love to be. It also upsets me because the man we should be remembering on the day did not condone that type of love either. In fact, I think Saint Valentine would be against it.
The Story of Saint Valentine
There isn't complete agreement about the life of Saint Valentine. Some would argue that much of what is believed about him is not based on historic fact. However, about 10 years ago, Focus on the Family released an episode of Adventures in Odyssey (LOVED that radio show when I was a kid) about Saint Valentine called “The Last ‘I Do.’” I want to share the story of Saint Valentine based on their interpretation. (I tried to distinguish some of the details I know were made up for the show by adding "In Odyssey") Here’s what you learn in that episode:
Now I know that this version of the story was fictionalized, but I still think that some of these stories are true. Many of these details are pretty consistent throughout all the different versions of his life, specifically the healing the jailer's daughter, his refusal to renounce his faith, and his martyrdom on what became his Saint Day. As I listened to this version of his story, two things stand out to me, things that I think should be the emphasis of Valentine’s Day: marriage and sacrificial love.
Marriage – Something Worth Fighting For
Valentine was one of the greatest champions for marriage to ever live. He died in the defense of marriage. It doesn't get any more real than that. However, Valentine’s Day has become a day to celebrate all types of relationships. Dating relationships and even crushes are also celebrated on Valentine’s Day. I think that in many ways, we miss the point when we choose to focus on all relationships instead of marriage specifically.
Valentine believed that marriage was an institution created by God and that no man should have the right to take away or change this institution. To be frank, I think Valentine would be grieved to see what has become of marriage and relationships in our world today. It is no longer holy. It is no longer permanent. Many spend extravagant amounts of money to make a wedding fancy, but end up saying vows that they don’t really intend to live out. Many are being extremely irresponsible with their sexual lives, to the point that marriage has become less important than “being in love,” or experiencing sexual pleasure. Marriage is no longer a necessity to parent a child. Families are not the backbone of society that they used to be, and we are paying the price for this cultural shift. This should not be.
On Valentine’s Day, I think we should celebrate marriage as the blessing from God that it is. It is a commitment between a man and a woman to be joined spiritually and sexually until death separates them. This is a beautiful thing, and a metaphor of God’s love for us. We should not allow anyone or anything to taint marriage any more that it has already been distorted by our culture. We need to win back marriage and sex from Satan’s grasp so that we can help our world see God’s divine intention for them. The sacred love within a marriage is something worth fighting for. This what this song from the movie Fireproof tells us.
Love – Giving Up Yourself
The other thing that stands out about Saint Valentine is that he cared enough about those around him that he gave up his life for their sake. He came to care for Julia so much that he did not want to leave her fatherless. He cared about those he married so much that he gave up his life so that they could be united. That’s incredible. That’s not the love of fairytales or a love based on feelings. It was even a parallel to what Jesus did for the church.
Jesus did not want us to be fatherless either. He did not want us to be without a way to know the Heavenly Father intimately and personally, so he came down to earth as a man, and became the Ransom for all transgressions. This hope we have in salvation was the ultimate motivation for Saint Valentine to give up his life, but he was able to do so because he knew the ultimate example of sacrificial love.
It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from The Lord of the Rings. When Frodo tells Sam that he would be leaving over Sea, Sam has a hard time accepting it. He makes a statement I will never forget, and I may expound on further in another post. This is one of the best ways that sacrifice has ever been defined.
"I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me. It must often be so Sam, when things are in danger. Someone must give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them."
This is the type of love that we are supposed to have for each other, especially husbands and wives. It is your motivation and your ultimate goal. You put their needs ahead your own. You don’t think about what you can get in return. You protect and defend them, no matter what. You choose forgiveness over bitterness. You let them be right instead of arguing. You chose to love them despite their flaws. You endure even when you want to give up. That is true love, and anything short of this is a counterfeit.
Sacrificial Love Isn't Grey
The kind of love people really want to know, the sacrificial love we as Christians know, isn't grey; it’s black and white. Our culture wants to believe in this type of love, but when they can’t find it, they settle for the counterfeit versions our world is selling them. That's why Fifty Shades has become so popular. We haven't given them a better alternative. We haven't given the ability to find the love that will really satisfy them. This needs to change.
As Christians, we need to learn how to have sacrificial love in our marriages and in our other relationships, so that we can demonstrate it to a world so desperately needs to know what true love is. Then, we can lead them to the foot of the cross, where they will find the love that will endure all, and teach them how to live out that same type of love in our own lives. This will be the type of love that will matter for eternity, not some man-made version with mushy feelings and "happily ever after's." As we celebrate Valentine’s Day, we need to focus on celebrating the right kind of love, and how to identify when someone is trying to sell us the counterfeit.
True love is not found in porn or erotica. It’s not found in uncommitted relationships. It’s not found in many of our favorite chick flicks. It’s not found in cheesy cards and fancy dinners. It’s not even found in fancy weddings.
True love found in a marriage grounded in Christ. It’s found in the man willing to do anything to protect and provide for his family. It’s found in the woman who gives up her dreams to support her husband’s dreams. It’s found in a child that gives expecting nothing in return. It’s found at the foot of the cross. That’s where I look for it. How about you?
To conclude this post, I want to share my newest YouTube video about Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s a spoken word poem that further addresses my perspective on the subject. I hope that all of you will know how to be pursue sacrificial love, this Valentine's Day, and everyday.
This blog is now designated for my reviews of primarily Christian books, but also some movies and musicals. It will feature the work I do to help launch and promote the works of Christian authors I believe in their message. This will also be the place where I will update and promote the major of the projects of Princess Worth Dying For Ministries or my personal life.
The name is derived from one of my favorite books, Through the Eyes of a Lion by Levi Lusko. Through my reviews, I hope to give Christians the tools they need to look at the world "through the eyes of a lion" so they can find the courage to "run toward the roar".
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Bethel Grove is a self-published Christian author, spoken word artist, and a graduate of Ozark Christian College trained in biblical hermeneutics and practical ministry. She founded Princess Worth Dying For Ministries to proclaim the truth of the gospel, especially to the next generation and their leaders. She enjoys reading, writing, singing, and mentoring younger women.
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