By Shari Abbott, Reasons for Hope* Jesus
On February 12th I wrote an article calling your attention to the two movies that were being released for Valentine’s Day Weekend — Fifty Shades of Grey, a totally anti-biblical message of lust and sexual sin, and Old Fashioned, a movie promising to deliver a biblical message of redemption from a lifestyle of sin and a new courtship based upon God’s principles for love and marriage.
At that time I had not seen either of the movies. The movie, Fifty Shades of Grey, I will never see. But I can tell you, from what little I know about it, that it is not good for any Christian to view (it’s not good for non-Christians either). My husband and I did see the movie Old Fashioned on February 14th.
So did Old Fashioned deliver what it promised? Here are my thoughts:
It was a sweet movie about two previously immoral people meeting and falling in love. It portrayed a pre-marriage relationship with boundaries according to God’s Word (completely the opposite of the “Fifty Shades” message). While Hollywood tries to tell us that biblical dating relationships are out-dated and unrealistic, the movie Old Fashioned showed that God-honoring relationships are much more desirable and rewarding.
It should be noted that this movie offered another message in addition to the message of sexual purity.
What I found to be the greatest lesson in the movie was that of the inward focus of Clay Walsh—it was as unbiblical as his previous sinful sexual behavior. In my articles I write a lot about focus, because I truly believe focus is the key to successfully living a God-honoring life.
We are told to keep our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith (Heb 12:2). This reminds us that He who has begun a good work in us (Jesus, the Author of our faith), will also finish His work in us (Philippians 1:6). When we keep our eyes on Jesus, He will direct our lives according to His will and fuel our lives by the power of His Spirit. The Bible commands, in both Hebrews and Titus, that we are to be looking-up, and then looking outward. Our eyes and thoughts are to be focused first on God and then on others in loving service to them.
In the movie, Clay had set up many rules (he called them “theories”) and he was determined to adhere to them as his way of keeping himself pure. We know that God wants men and women (and boys and girls) to remain sexually pure until marriage, but what He desires is that it be motivated by love for Him and His Word. Love God is the first of the two great commandments and if that commandment (rule/theory) is kept then following God’s other commandments will be done by a devoted heart strengthened by God’s Spirit. Do we really live like we believe this? Clay didn’t. His focus was directed on his behavior (inward focus). It was not an upward focus on Jesus, but rather a determination in his own power.
Clay’s many “theories”/rules were a type of self-salvation project and it created obedience by discipline rather than obedience from devotion. Clay’s wise aunt brought this to light when she said, “all I hear is “I, I, I…” and then she chastised him with “if you were any more self-absorbed you’d be a dot” (I loved that line– we all know self-centered people, and it should be a warning to all of us. If we aren’t looking up, we too can become “dots.”
Clay’s rigid “theories” were like Pharisaical rules, used to control his behavior. Keeping rules without the right heart is a form of moralism. Renewing our minds in the Bible, and entering into communion with God in prayer, reminds us of our freedom in Christ and that is empowering. Remember, when we are weak (tempted) Jesus promises to be strong for us (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). When we find our freedom and rest in Him, we are strengthened and desire to live for Him.
Hopefully the beautiful ending of the movie was the beginning of a shift from an inward focus to an upward, then outward, focus for the fictional character. If there was to be a “rest of the story,” I would hope it would tell of how Clay found that he could enjoy the company of a woman he loved and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to do so without crossing the line into any type of sin.
Please don’t hear me wrong and please let me clarify. We certainly should control (and mortify) our sinful lusts, but God desires that we do so by the power of His Holy Spirit living in us, unleashed by our love for Jesus—the One who has given us everything.
Finally, the movie was rated PG 13 and there was some suggestive material that explained the characters’ past sexual behaviors. The suggestive material was relevant to the plot and it was far “tamer” than many TV commercials and programs, however only parents can decide if they think the movie is appropriate for their teen. It’s likely the movie was intended for 20-30 somethings, the target audience of Fifty Shades of Grey.
My “take-away” from the movie: Our rules will never be sufficient to control our behaviors. Keep our eyes on Jesus remember His all sufficient grace (2 Cor 12:9-10), for greater is His Spirit in us than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4)—and that includes us!
Remember the power of “Christ in us, the hope of glory” (Col 1:27).
Trust that the Holy Spirit will teach us (John 14:26) and strengthen us (John 16:1) in all things.
And make appropriate choices about what we see and read—always keeping our eyes on Jesus. To quote from the 1922 hymn, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus”
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
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Old Fashioned breaks records
February 18, 2015 / by CBA Marketing
Opening on Valentine’s Day weekend, the indie romantic drama Old Fashioned sold out theaters and set a new record as best-performing Christian film in fewer than 300 theaters. In 224 theaters, Old Fashioned made more than $1 million for the four-day holiday weekend.