Following a best-selling Christian romance novel, written by Francine Rivers, and published in 1991 comes the new steamy, controversial, and popular movie by the same name: Redeeming Love. It hit the theaters in January 2022 and it has all Christians talking. Should I see it? Should I not see it? You should watch it. You should not watch it.
IMBD writes this, “REDEEMING LOVE is a powerful story of relentless love and perseverance as a young couple’s relationship clashes with the harsh realities of the California Gold Rush of 1850. It is a life-changing story of the power of unconditional and all-consuming love.” To dive into a little more detail, the woman in the story, Angel is a prostitute and one day runs into a man named Michael Hosea. Inspired by the Biblical book of Hosea, this novel follows their love story.
Now there seems to be a lot of controversy regarding the new movie as the “steamy scenes” are a little too much for some as described, but here’s the thing, I do not care if you watch it. I am choosing to not watch the movie, but I think we’re missing something substantial and it’s bigger than this movie and the sex scenes. Let me explain
As you read this, I am about halfway into the novel and as I’m reading it I can tell you that it would not be wise for me to see the movie. Romans 14, is a chapter of the Bible where the Apostle Paul is dealing with matters of Christian conscience and personal convictions. This means that though some matters within the Bible are non-negotiable, other matters are not so black and white. Paul talks about food in this chapter and how some may feel that it is wrong to eat meat while others may feel it is appropriate to eat meat, not one of the individuals is more right or more strong in their faith than the other. He ends by saying this, “Your personal convictions [on such matters]—exercise [them] as in God’s presence, keeping them to yourself [striving only to know the truth and obey His will]. Blessed (happy, to be envied) is he who has no reason to judge himself for what he approves [who does not convict himself by what he chooses to do]. 23 But the man who has doubts (misgivings, an uneasy conscience) about eating, and then eats [perhaps because of you], stands condemned [before God], because he is not true to his convictions and he does not act from faith. For whatever does not originate and proceed from faith is sin [whatever is done without a conviction of its approval by God is sinful].” I think this is the bigger story when it comes to Redeeming Love.
Before I begin sharing my personal convictions, I remind you that choosing or not choosing to consume this type of entertainment does not make you more or less Christian. The Christian faith is based on faith alone and not your good works or deeds. It is this understanding that Jesus died for us, He rose again, and He is Lord. I encourage you to use biblical wisdom in all areas of your life, seeking to glorify God in everything that you do, but I remind us that it looks different with each Christian. Diversity is welcomed and it’s absolutely beautiful.
I am kind of a sucker for romance and rom-coms. I find them incredibly entertaining, and I remember watching so many of them in high school and college. I remember finding fanfiction on Instagram which told the wonderful boy meets girl story and had about the estimated amount of grammatical errors you would expect a 15-year-old to make. I like them. I feel warm when I read them. Before I was married, I would pretend I was the main girl in these stories. Can you relate? Yet over time, I noticed a shift.
My view of romance, intimacy, relationship, and love was changing. I was beginning to idolize entertainment’s narrative rather than looking at the biblical worldview. Unintentionally, I was creating these lists in my head of what makes the perfect guy, playing out scenes from movies, and pretending that I knew what love was…based on toxic relationships. Instead of reading about love from Love Himself, I was reading about how the world defines love. I must say too that we must not label all Christian things as good and secular things as bad because some forms of entertainment do not preach the biblical worldview, yet they portray a realistically healthy marriage. As I’m reading Redeeming Love, I think there are some traits of Michael Hosea that are unfavorable and toxic. The only perfect love we can find is in Jesus Himself. Jesus loved us so much that He chose to die for us. Jesus unconditionally loves us all, even those who hate Him. That’s who Love is. That is the love story told in the Bible.
Continuously fantasizing about entertainment’s view of love slowly was hurting me, my relationships, and my view of people. I was trying to find the perfect guy or mold guys into my “ideal guy.” The steamy scenes would create this lingering curiosity that could easily turn into tempting lust. When I was unmarried, I decided to stop consuming that type of content, and as I am married, I must limit myself with how much I can consume. I want to pursue Jesus and represent Him well in everything that I do. For me personally, I cannot justify how indulging in this type of media glorifies Jesus. I find myself too tempted by lust. This is my own personal conviction.
I decided to read it because I was asked to share my thoughts, but I wanted to first better understand the story. And as I am reading Redeeming Love, I am doing so slowly and praying that God protects my heart. Though I am admittedly hooked on the story and I do see why it was a best-seller, especially for Christians, I am willing to stop reading if it becomes too much to handle. If it becomes too sexually explicit, I ought to not read that. This is why I am choosing not to see the movie. It’s one thing to read a book, but it is another thing to see these visuals come to life. Though there is this lingering curiosity over this movie, maybe more so because of the following controversy, I ask the question why do I want to see it? That answer is everything, but my answer truly does not glorify God if I am brutally honest with myself. To be transparent with you, I want to see it because I am tempted by the presence of these so-called steamy clips. I personally cannot justify how giving in to those temptations makes me a great ambassador for Christ. That is why I will not be watching Redeeming Love.
When it comes to personal convictions, the bigger story is that the Christian who calls Jesus Lord is to live a life that honors God. This goes for the non-negotiable topics such as treating each one of God’s amazing creations as equally valued and worthy, but this also goes for the negotiable matters. As we go to school, work, post on social media, consume content, participate in our hobbies, and chase our passions, we must have discernment. We ask, is what I am doing glorifying Jesus? We do not ask this because we think salvation is to those who do more “good” than “bad,” but it is because we are saved that we seek to embody the characteristics of Jesus. It is not our good works that save us, but it is because we are saved that we want to do good works. We want to embody the character of Jesus.
To my Christian and non-Christian friends that decide to read the novel or see the film, I warn you that it can be heavy. It touches on topics that deserve a trigger warning. Though it is inspired by the book of Hosea, I want to share with you that this loosely loosely loosely loosely loosely and about 10 more following that, this novel and film are loosely based on the book of Hosea. If you truly want to know about the story of redeeming love, try out the actual book of Hosea, found in the Bible. Micheal Hosea’s unconditional love for Angel falls short in many aspects compared to God’s love for you. It is frankly incomparable. If you want to learn about God’s love for this world, could you try out the Bible? The gospel offers good news. Jesus came to save. His love for you is greater than anything you could ever imagine.