Valentine’s Day has come and gone, and most couples found some small way to recognize and celebrate their love and commitment to their significant other. Along with the flowers and candy, many couples spent this Valentine’s Day watching a favorite movie – likely one which had some sort of romantic plot.
But the sad fact is, our culture has gone completely off the rails with the way real love and romance are portrayed in film and television. Simple love stories that celebrate marriage and the family are considered unrealistic, naive — and even boring to some viewers — and are rarely depicted in films anymore.
Adultery, revenge, and divorce seem to be the fundamental plot features of movies these days – whether a romantic comedy or drama. And many of these “romantic” movies contain an underlying dark message – “forget your commitments; the grass is greener on the other side.”
Some of the films that are considered as classic or iconic in our culture do nothing but glorify adultery, divorce, and the disregard for any moral foundation in order to fulfill one’s selfish desires.
The pop culture classic, Love Actually, has acquired a dedicated following due to its ensemble cast of A-list stars, like Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman . Following the love lives of several couples, the film seems to send the message that you can jump from relationship to relationship with little consequence
2004’s Closer is another film in which the lives of all the characters are intertwined, and has become popular for the intense plot involving a web of lies, deceit, and multiple, repeated affairs by the main character, played by Jude Law.
And 2014’s The Other Woman starring Cameron Diaz is a story of the revenge three women take on the man who is dating all of them at the same time, and lying to each. Billed as a romantic comedy, the premise is anything but funny.
Who could forget the blockbuster Indecent Proposal, where a couple nearly destroys their marriage when they accept an offer of a one-night stand with the wife in exchange for a financial windfall?
The smash hits Fatal Attraction and American Beauty both made huge profits at the box office and have remained favorites for their focus on the intense destruction that adultery has on the family. They are so popular that references to scenes in the films are embedded in our pop culture, in everything from comedy skits to commercials.
American Beauty was especially disturbing, with the plot centering around a middle-aged man who wanted to escape the reality of his “ordinary” life by having sexual fantasies about a teenage girl — who happened to be his daughter’s best friend.
And IMDB describes 2002’s Unfaithful as “undoubtedly the most iconic when it comes to portraying an extramarital affair.” It shows us just how far we’ve fallen in our morality as a society when the words “iconic” and “affair” are used together, or that so many movies contain adultery as a subject matter that it doesn’t even phase us anymore.
Perhaps some of the most famous romantic movies in recent decades are those brought to the big screen by author Nicholas Sparks.
Sparks has adapted many of his novels to film. Although he has been publicly vocal about his Christian faith, and his films are tame compared to those previously mentioned, they don’t always send the best message about fidelity and commitment.
His films often involve characters who are committed to one person, but impulsively leave that relationship for someone else, often unrealistically falling in love with them in a matter of days.
Although adultery and divorce are not glorified in these movies, they do paint an unrealistic picture of romantic relationships, which experts say can be damaging in that they portray love as being a product of “fate” or “destiny,” and not a dedicated commitment of time and compromise.
The Federalist commented on how Sparks’ movies are not good for the real-life relationships we are all involved in:
Love isn’t about short answers or simple solutions, perfect people or perfect romances. Love is about the husband who cares for his wife of 59 years, only to watch her die. Love is about the college boyfriend who breaks your heart, and never looks back—and it’s about the lessons you draw from that experience.
Love is about the moments when you and your spouse argue—seriously or foolishly, heatedly or wearily—then kiss and choose to forget. Love is about walking down the aisle and saying “until death do us part,” and meaning it with all of your heart and soul.
Love is patient, love is kind. It doesn’t always mean kisses in the rain or rainbows after thunderstorms or fields of wildflowers. But it does mean passion, purpose, and joy. That’s better—and more romantic—than any Nicholas Sparks Man or Woman might guess.
These popular movies all have one thing in common – the message that marriage is a temporary, disposable commodity that can be traded at will if one desires a change of pace or thinks there is something better out there.
Little Light Studios emphasizes how the messages these films promote are destructive to marriage and the family:
Why is it so important that we discuss how relationships are portrayed in romantic [movies]? Because marriage is a reflection of our relationship with God. In Ephesians 5:25 we just quoted, we see the principle of the woman being a symbol of the church. In Revelation 12 and 17 this symbol is split up in two versions: the pure woman and the adulterous woman. In the Bible God often compares sin and straying from God with adultery (see Jeremiah 3:20; Isaiah 1:21; 57:8; Ezekiel 16:30).
If our view of what a relationship should be like is becoming so skewed because of the movies we watch, what will happen to our view of what our relationship with God should be like? Will that not be put on its head as well?
[These movies often show] a couple who had known each other for two weeks, and then began a relationship that was so passionate, it was as if they had been married for years already. Such hasty relationships are not in line with God’s will. There were two institutions that God created in the beginning: the Sabbath and marriage.
Sadly, filmmakers are not going to stop using these themes to sell more tickets. In fact, sexual promiscuity, adultery, and divorce will likely keep drawing in viewers and bringing in money for actors and studios.
It is up to the viewer to realize these films are unrealistic fantasy, and that the real-life damage done to families by adultery and divorce are irreparable. These themes are in no way entertaining, and in the case of romantic comedies, far from funny.
(h/t Mommy Underground)