By Teresa Tomeo
ALBANY, Georgia, OCT. 14, 2008 (Zenit.org).- A “love dare” that saves marriage is just what the United States needs as marriage is under attack and redefined, says the director of a movie made with volunteers that is already bringing in millions.
Fireproof — the story of a firefighter who must work to rescue his marriage — opened the last weekend in September and has brought in more than 7 million dollars, well above the $500,000 production budget. When it opened, if was at No. 4 in the box office.
But according to director Alex Kendrick, the film is simply an attempt to defend something that God has created. In this interview with ZENIT, Kendrick speaks about the film, relationships and saving marriages.
Q: What are your hopes for Fireproof in terms of the impact you want it to have on marriage as well as the general public?
Kendrick: Marriage in our country has been attacked, watered down and redefined. It is our hope that this movie will draw attention to the honor that should be given to marriage, and remind people that it is something worth fighting for. Marriage is a pillar of our culture. If it breaks down, then families and communities will crumble. God has a specific design for marriage, and we want to lift that design back to its intended place.
Q: Can you explain the double meaning behind the title?
Kendrick: Fireproof doesn’t mean that fire will never come, but that when it comes, you can withstand it. Every marriage encounters fires of some sort, and the only way to withstand them is to understand the true meaning of love and commitment. It is more a decision than a feeling.
Q: Do you hope this film will also have a broader cultural reach — for example touching folks who may not be married but may be struggling with addictions, such as pornography?
Kendrick: Absolutely! The principles in Fireproof don’t apply only to married couples. The issues with subjects like pornography are applicable to everyone. You don’t have to be married to enjoy and benefit from the movie.
Q: A recent statistic put pornography addiction among Christian men at 75% and we know this is an issue that has been addressed by Promise Keepers and other men’s groups and apostolates. Why do you think this is getting to be such a big problem for Christians in particular?
Kendrick: The Internet has been a wonderful tool for disseminating information very quickly, but the downside is that material like porn can be privately piped into someone’s home without any accountability or responsibility. It’s become so accessible that more and more men are struggling with it.
We each need accountability to others, and we must break access to things that become stumbling blocks. If a man is struggling with his private access to pornography, then it would be better to get rid of his computer than to allow it to degrade his walk with God and his marriage.
Q: In the film, the main character is encouraged to follow instructions in a book, “Love Dare,” which describes how he can save his marriage. “Love Dare” is already a bestseller. Was it developed specifically for Fireproof or was it already in use in churches around the country?
Kendrick: The format and idea for the Love Dare first came as a part of the plot, but believing that this idea was inspired by the Lord, we spent months researching Scripture and writing the book. It was the hardest thing we’ve ever written, but also one of the most life-changing.
Q: This film, like the Passion of the Christ, is bringing a real ecumenical effort in terms of getting the word out. Can you talk about the outreach among both Catholics and Protestants and the fact that you are even using a Catholic public relations firm to help with the promotional aspect?
Kendrick: We all agree that marriage is crucial to our families and our culture. It was designed by God and to be held in honor. It is a beautiful picture of Christ and the Church, for which he died. We cannot just sit by and let the world devalue and attack what God holds as sacred.
It has been a blessing to work together to lift up a standard for what marriage could be, even from couples that are struggling. It takes patience, kindness and forgiveness. When we learn that unconditional love was first demonstrated by God to us, and that we should love each other that way, it can transform our lives and our marriages.
This project has been effective because of our joint effort, and we pray that God receives glory and that our nation is changed.
Q: So far what is the feedback from the film?
Kendrick: It has been overwhelming! We’ve already heard of couples canceling their divorce hearings after watching the film. One couple purchased new rings as a recommitment to God and to each other. Others asked forgiveness for wrongs done in their relationship, and many couples stayed in the theater crying and embracing after identifying with the story.
After the first weekend, hundreds of emails have already poured in from all over the country. We are thrilled that God is touching and changing lives.