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.