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“Redeeming Love” and the Controversy

In 1991, Francine Rivers published a book called Redeeming Love. Since then it has sold over three million copies. That’s amazing for a Christian author....maybe any author.

It had mixed results as a novel, Rivers has a way of writing than can be a little steamy to an innocent mind. The controversy even then was that the book was a “gateway to soft porn.”

For me, my daughter and many of my friends, Redeeming Love was a powerful book. For many of us, the thought that our Lord pursues us the way that Michael Hosea pursued Angel or the picture of Isreal in Hosea was so moving that it brought us to tears. I understand why Rivers is so protective of it. It is a masterpiece.

The popularity of the book made many of us desire a film and Rivers herself longed for a contract. The film was many years on the drafting block for various reasons. When Rivers began tweeting about the film the Christian community went crazy.

And then the film was released.

I heard many people talk about the nudity and (excuse the next graphic language) the sexual movements of couples, considering if those elements had a place in a “Christian film.” I began to wonder if it was “right” for me to watch it.

I decided (giving warning to my friends) that we should see it and then give our thoughts. We didn’t talk about it before we filmed-we wanted the conversation to be raw and real. After watching the video below, I must admit, I wish I had waited a few days. I think the peace maker in me wanted to be pleasant and entertaining, but as I ponder the film I think I would have changed my rating. I give it a thumbs up at the end, but that was too generous. This film needs to come with more warnings than it does. Yes, the subject matter is difficult. Yes, I think Christians should show a realistic picture that sin is ugly and life is not always handed to a Christian all wrapped up in a bow that gives us a happily ever after. Yet…as a director and a Christian, I think some of the elements in this film could have given us that realistic picture without “crossing the line.”

Is it possible that people will know about God’s love from this movie?
God doesn’t need any of this to call people to him.

Is it possible this movie could cause people to sin by watching it?
I believe the answer to that is also yes.
Doesn’t the Bible warn us to not be a stumbling block to others? 

What is considered “nudity”? (The aurgument is that at one point Michael’s hand covers her beast so that you cannot see…well, you know.) So that makes it not nudity? I disagree. You see too much. It is nudity to me. In fact, I think one of the problems with the movie is that it tries to have a little steaminess with the sex scenes.

I wonder if we have become desensitized to “things of the world?” Arguing that “you don’t really see anything”, or that the people that are acting out the sexual scenes are portraying married couples doesn’t sit well for me.  I think we should require more from a film that labels itself “Christian” or one that is supposed to show us God’s holy, pure, and unconditional love.

Before you use this argument on me….I KNOW the BIble is filled with stories of sex, sin and murder, but it isn’t written in graphic detail. Song of Solomon is the exception, but it isn’t written to be steamy and doesn’t include full color video.

Please watch the video below and let us know if you’ve seen the movie or if perhaps the video will help you make a decision. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Join us next week as our discussion goes a different direction. I seriously cannot wait for you to see part two!

Rebecca Leland, Naomi Rogers, thank you for your frank discussion. Thank you Rebecca for filming and your efforts in editing this mammoth job!

I would love it if you would like, share and follow!

Until next time this is just me talking to you from the wings-


8 thoughts on ““Redeeming Love” and the Controversy”

  1. Thank you Reba, for asking me to be part of the conversation. I also wished we had a day to process. Had I had the extra day, I would have given it a full thumbs down and not halfway. I look forward to part 2 of the conversation. Blessings, Naomi


  2. I wish she would lose so much money on this film to learn a lesson and make Christian films that don’t show graphic sexual scenes that don’t need to be there to get the message across.


  3. Thanks for having the courage to tackle this, ladies. I have several thoughts but I’ll mention just a couple.
    My favorite statement was from Naomi, saying that at one point she thought maybe she should just read the book of Hosea. To that I say heartily, “Amen.” Neither the book (which I read many years ago and never forgot it) nor the movie (which I won’t be seeing) is representative of the book of Hosea in the Bible.
    Hosea describes the willful depths of the sinfulness of God’s people and His responses to it, including punishment but ultimately His mercy. It’s not so much about sexual sin (or married sex, or sex in general) as it’s about unfaithfulness that grieves God Almighty in depths beyond our human understanding. The story of Redeeming Love describes a wounded, desperate victim of sexual abuse and her husband’s loving commitment, leading ultimately to their redeemed sexual marriage covenant. Very different story. Very different message.
    While sex trafficking is a scourge on humanity, it isn’t what Hosea is about. Hosea is about the completely depraved and faithless idolatry of God’s people. It’s about the blackness of the sin in my heart, NOT anything to which I’ve fallen victim. Redeeming Love cannot teach me about the holiness and depth of God’s love for me, a desperate sinner. Only God’s word can do that. I think any “Christian” film that waters down the biblical narrative does a disservice to the true message of the Gospel and those who need to hear it.
    I found Alisa Childers to be really helpful. You can find her thoughts here, along with some entries as she’s going through the book of Hosea:
    I truly hope adding my thoughts was helpful. I love you, ladies!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Karen, this is so beautiful. You have put into words something that many others have tried and failed. I think we’ve gotten caught up in “it’s a Christian movie” instead of seeing how it distorts. Thank you for sharing g your wisdom.

      Liked by 1 person

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