By Ashley McIlwain
*This is Part 2 of the Stephen Kendrick Interview. You can check out Part1 by clicking here.
One of many things I loved about Fireproof is that you didn’t shy away from addressing a serious issue that plagues so many marriages and homes, the destructive force of pornography. Many people underestimate the devastation and addictive power of pornography. What would you suggest for a husband or wife who is struggling with this addiction as the victim or user?
Focus on the Family told us, when we were out in Colorado Springs, that pornography has become the number one issue that people are calling in and asking for help with. There are tens of thousands of pornographic websites on the internet. It’s unbelievable.
Pornography is idolatry. It creates an addiction of lust that will lead a man to surrender his mind, body, money, time, and purity in service to it. God always links physical intimacy to love, marriage, and lifelong commitment. It’s the grand finale of those things. Each of those things – marriage, love, and lifelong commitment – makes the physical relationship meaningful, and they reinforce a couples union. It makes it more glorifying to God. In that holy context, the physical intimacy in a relationship is grounded in love, and it’s freely shared. It maintains its meaning in helping the benefits, but there’s no cost, no shame, no guilt, and no regrets.
Pornography strips the sexual fulfillment from all of those main purposes. It steals away from the marriage, intimacy, lifelong commitment, and love. Now, it disconnects the physical enjoyment and arousal from love, marriage, and those commitments, and it reattaches the enjoyment or thrill to lust, vanity, irresponsibility, and sin. Instead of the physical enjoyment and fulfillment being a reward from God, it now becomes undeserved, unearned, and unholy. It actually darkens a man’s heart.
With tens of thousands of pornographic sites on the internet, it is perverting the minds, darkening the hearts, and destroying the marriages of millions of people around the world. I say it’s like sexual cocaine.
It’s luring a man into a trap and promising harmless, free pleasure, but it will actually rape his mind and conscience. It will leave him, not only addicted, but it will leave him numb where he doesn’t care anymore. He will quit rejoicing over good things, and he will quit mourning over bad things. The numbness that that addiction creates is terrible. It will enslave.
What does someone need to do when dealing with that situation? Any addiction is based upon lies. Jesus said, “The truth will set us free,” but it is a lie that will keep us in bondage. First, with an addiction like pornography, a man needs to realize that it is sin. Secondly, he does not need it to be happy or satisfied in life. God totally designed marriage to be completely fulfilling and happy without any pornography in a man’s life. Also, part of the thrill of heaven is the purity that we will enjoy in Heaven with God and with one another, so a man needs to realize that the lie of pornography is that he needs it, or that he has to have it to be happy, satisfied, thrilled, fulfilled, or content in his life. All of those things are lies.
Secondly, what he’s trying to do, or what a woman for that matter (because 1/3 of all visitors to pornographic websites
are women) is trying to do is fill a void in her life that can actually only be filled by the love of God. 1 John 2:15-17 says that if we live by lust, if we have the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes in our life, it is revealing that we don’t have the love of the Father in us. That’s not saying that you are lost, but it is saying that you’re not letting God’s love fulfill your life, be in your life, and flow through your life.
If a man can tap into the love of God by first repenting in a sense, surrendering to Jesus Christ, and then beginning to walk in a daily, abiding relationship with Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit will then begin to pour into his life the fruit of the Spirit, of which the first three are love, joy, and peace. Those are the things he’s longing for, and those are actually the things that he’s thirsting for when he seeks pornography. He’s looking for love, joy, and peace. Those things only come from the Holy Spirit. So, if a man will begin to find intimacy with Christ, walk with Him, be in God’s Word, surrender to Him, and be prayerful and talking to Him, then God’s Holy Spirit will begin to fill his life and pour love, joy, and peace into his heart.
The reason I can say this is because I’ve had three or four key friends of mine who have been addicted to pornography and it destroyed their marriages. I have watched God, through them finding intimacy with the Lord, completely deliver them from pornography. In one of the situations, his wife left him and never came back. In a second one, his wife was about to file for divorce, and because of what God was doing in his life and his repentance, she waited. She saw that he was truly getting out of it, forgave him, and now they have a great marriage. Actually, they have started a ministry together.
Two key things happen when a man or a woman begins to walk in intimacy with Christ. First, their desire for pornography starts to go down because they’re becoming satisfied with the fruit of the Spirit and the love of God. Secondly, their ability to resist it goes up because now they can do all things through Christ who is strengthening them. Before they are walking with the Lord, they may be a believer, but if they’re still addicted and consumed by lust, they will act like a lost person. They will continue to pursue these addictions. Beforehand they’re not satisfied and so they’re thirsting for and think that what they’re longing for is pornography. Secondly, they feel like they’re powerless under its control, and they can’t escape. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says that there is no temptation that God will allow in our lives that will overcome us. He will be faithful to provide a way to escape so that we can endure it. That is a great verse for men who are addicted to pornography to memorize. They need to memorize 1 Corinthians 10:13, 2 Timothy 2:22, 1 John 2:15-17, and John 15:5.
The whole chapter of Philippians 4 talks about finding contentment through Christ’s strength. These are key things that can replace those lies. Actually John 8:31-32 says how knowing the truth can set us free, and verse 36 says “Who the Son sets free is free indeed.” God can fully deliver a person from any addiction. A Biblical demonstration of that is the woman at the well. She was married five times and was now living with a man, and Jesus was pointing out how she was constantly thirsting for more and that He could give her living water so she would never thirst again. That living water is through, not only a relationship with Him, but the Holy Spirit is the one who comes in and pours out the rivers of living water in us. It satisfies us. She found satisfaction in Christ. Any man or woman who has any kind of addiction can be set free.
People say accountability is the key, but even if you have accountability and you are abstaining from something, still internally you’re tormented by it. That’s not freedom. Christ brings true freedom. It doesn’t just mean abstaining. It means walking in that freedom and living in that freedom where you’re not tormented by that sin or addiction any more. Yes, you’ll be tempted. It’s not a sin to be tempted. Jesus was tempted, but it is a sin to be addicted to anything.
1 John says that if we truly know the Lord and are walking with Him, we will not be a slave to sin. Romans 6, 7, and 8 all communicate that in Christ we will become dead to sin and alive to God, and we can then walk in freedom. We won’t have to be in condemnation any more, and we won’t have to be addicted to anything anymore. God’s Word is very clear that there is freedom in Christ. I’m a huge proponent of people truly repenting of that as a sin and walking in that freedom. Accountability is great, but it’s not the end-all, be-all solution because it can’t change your heart.
In Fireproof we see Kirk Cameron’s character, as the husband, step up to salvage his marriage. Do you think men have a unique ability to turn a wayward marriage or family around? Why?
I think God has the ability to do that, when a man surrenders to the Lord. I do believe that men are in a unique situation because God has placed them in the leadership role of their marriages. If a marriage falls apart, both the husband and the wife are going to be held accountable for that. They’re responsible before the Lord, but the husband is more responsible. He is going to be held to a greater level of accountability because he has been placed in the authority position. He’s in the driving seat. I tell men, “If your marriage falls apart, you have to take the blame because you’re in the driver’s seat, and the driver always gets the ticket by the police officer if the car is speeding or out of control.”
God wants men to lead the way. Women are wired to be responsive. A woman doesn’t want to turn and walk away from any man who will love her with Christ-like love. It is true that there are women that are married to godly men, and they still foolishly destroy their marriages. There’s a verse in Proverbs that says, “A wise woman will build her house, but a foolish woman will tear down her own house with her own hands.” But, men are called to that leadership role.
In Fireproof we wanted to show the man rescuing his marriage. We wanted to show him stepping up because Jesus took the initiative to rescue His bride. In Ephesians 5 it says, “The husband needs to be willing to lay down his life for his wife.” That is a greater sacrifice than what God is calling women to do, which is to support the leadership of their husband and to submit to their leadership. It is a much greater sacrifice for a husband to die for his wife, so that kind of love is what Jesus demonstrated, and that is what God places on the husband. He needs to sanctify and strengthen his marriage.
This brings me to the exciting news of your latest work that will hit theaters September 30th, Courageous. Tell us a little bit about this one.
Courageous is about fatherhood. It’s about men learning to step up and become the heroes fighting for their families. You follow five different men. Four of them are police officers, and they’re fighting crime, gangs on the street, and dealing with drugs. They’re realizing that almost one hundred percent of the kids who are involved in gangs and about eight percent of kids who go to prison, are growing up in homes without dads. These men are seeing the consequences of fatherlessness. You see them working through their own personal fatherhood issues. They had imperfect dad, and they’ve got to forgive and work through their own issues with their dads.
They’re also trying to figure out how to be a great dad at home. There’s a crisis in the movie, and it’s the wake-up call for all the men. It causes them to begin to study what God’s Word says about their roles as husbands and fathers. As they begin to study the Scriptures, the main character Adam makes a resolution. It is a commitment where he says, “Even though I’ve made mistakes in the past, I am going to, from this day forward, commit to spiritually lead my home, lead my wife, protect, provide, and lead my children, and teach them to live for Christ.” The other men join him, and they all make this resolution together. It’s a pretty powerful commitment for them to make in the movie.
Then you see them tested. They go through these tests at work, in relationships, with family, with gangs, where their commitment and lives are tested. You see them going through this venture of having to be courageous in the face of life’s opposition.
These days, gender roles are being blurred quite a bit for many reasons, which is why the message for men to reassert themselves and lead their families is so vital and powerful. How do you think that men, courageously taking the lead, can change their families and communities?
Courage is required for leadership. Everything that God calls a man to do in the physical realm – for him to protect, provide for, lead, and be an example for his family – requires courage. But all of those things are preparation for him to also do those things spiritually. He needs to spiritually protect his family. He needs to spiritually feed and provide for his family. He needs to spiritually lead and provide an example for his family. Courage is required for all of those things.
The world is turning against fatherhood, and they will go after the hearts of your children. They will try to destroy your marriage. A man has to demonstrate courage to take initiative. When his marriage is falling apart, he’s got to take courage. He doesn’t need to give up and throw in the towel. He needs to step up and lead. When he doesn’t understand his wife, he loses his job, when his kids are rebelling, or whatever is going on, a man has to step up with courage and to lead.
It’s what God called Joshua to do in Joshua chapter 1 when He was calling him to lead after Moses had died. He repeated over and over again, “You have to be strong and courageous. You have to be strong and courageous. Go lead. Go lead.” That passage of Scripture, Joshua 1, is part of the inspiration for us titling the movie “Courageous.”
How can women encourage and help their men to be courageous and the head of their homes?
First, by praying for them. Pray for your husband to be a godly leader. I remember ten years ago, there were women in
our church that would be at the alter praying for their husbands who were disengaged. Even if their husbands were Christians, a lot of times they weren’t leading or taking any kind of initiative. I would watch them pray consistently, sometimes for years, and God would begin to answer those prayers for their husbands.
Secondly, by supporting the leadership of their husbands. You know, when a wife is disrespectful to her husband, he will do one of two things. He will either get angry and counterattack her, or he will shut down and disengage. Both of those things are in opposition to strong leadership. When a woman demonstrates respect to her husband, she communicates to him that she wants to follow his leadership. It means she comes to him and says, “What would you like for me to do in this situation?” Then she lets him lead and follows what he says. She can speak to him with enough respect and submission to communicate nonverbally, “You’re the leader, and I’m following your leadership.” All of those things are very appealing and inspiring to a man. They encourage him to want to step up and lead. If she is attacking him, nagging him, speaking disrespectfully to him, and not submitting and supporting his leadership, then she’s actually undermining his role as a leader and discouraging him from leading. If she wants her husband to lead, she needs to get up under his leadership, and pray for him, encourage him to lead, and not attack or rebel against him.
What do you hope viewers of Courageous will take away from watching this movie?
We hope that every person who goes to see our movies is inspired to take the next step toward a more surrendered walk with Jesus Christ. If a person is not a believer, then he or she will hear the Gospel and be challenged. If they are believers in Jesus, then they will be challenged to surrender more to His lordship.
Secondly, in their own homes, we hope the movie will really challenge and inspire them to want to step up, lead, and to get reengaged in the lives of their children. Not just spend more time with them but to lead them with direction, vision, purpose, God’s Word, by example, and with integrity.
We hope the churches will begin to rise up and help disciple their men because if men will step up, it will help marriages to be stronger, and it will help the next generation of kids to grow up with a stronger sense of identity. Fathers are so influential in the hearts of their children. We want fathers to win the hearts of their children, and then begin to disciple and pour God’s Word into them. It will revolutionize the next generation because we’re losing the current generation. They’re walking away from their faith. But, if a father gets involved in spiritually leading his children, they’re twenty times more likely to stay in church and follow Christ.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers at Foundation Restoration?
They can go to http://www.courageousthemovie.com/and watch the trailer, clips, how we made it, and they can also
There is a book we just finished called The Resolution for Men. When people see Courageous, they will see firsthand how these men make this resolution commitment. We don’t want men to watch the movie, walk out, sign a piece of paper, stick it on their wall, and then forget about it. We really want them to understand how to lead spiritually. This book walks a man through what it means to be a man and what God’s calling you to do. He’s calling you to lead yourself, your wife, your children – how to biblically lead, including what the Scripture says about discipling your children, being faithful to your wife, walking in integrity, and learning how to walk with God on a daily basis. Those things are covered in this book. B&H Publishing is releasing it in stores, and we’re very excited about The Resolution for Men.
Just like The Love Dare was the follow up for Fireproof, The Resolution for Men is the next step after people see Courageous. Priscilla Shirer wrote The Resolution for Women. We’re tag teaming with her so that couples will be on the same page and working together to lead their families.
One of our goals is godly generations. We don’t want just you to come to the Lord, but we want your great grandchildren to be living for Christ. How do we need to be living now to help our great grandchildren to be faithful to the Lord? Those are the kinds of things we address in the book.
A huge thank you to Stephen Kendrick for taking the time to speak with me and for donating our giveaway items!
Courageous will be hitting theaters September 30, 2011. Find out where you can see it and purchase tickets by clicking here. You can also visit the Courageous movie website and get all sorts of information about the film and its resources. Make sure you check out their Facebook page, and follow them on Twitter too.
For more information or to order a copy of The Resolution for Men and/or The Resolution for Women, click here. You can also purchase apparel, church curriculum, and other resources by visiting the Courageous resource website.
Copyright © 2011, Foundation Restoration. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No reproduction allowed without written permission from Foundation Restoration and/or the author.
Get entered to be one of two winners in our Courageous Giveaway! There are two prizes up for grabs:
- A copy of #1 New York Times Bestseller The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick
- A copy of recently released The Resolution for Men by Stephen and Alex Kendrick as well as a copy of The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer
There are several ways to get entered to win. PLEASE read the instructions carefully and completely to ensure eligibility. Below is a list of actions that you can take to get entered with each being an additional entry (so you could get up to 5 entries!). MAKE SURE TO LEAVE A COMMENT INCLUDING ALL OF THE ACTIONS YOU HAVE TAKEN!!!
- LEAVE a comment below (everyone entering needs to do this and include what actions they have taken.)
- LIKE Foundation Restoration on Facebook
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Entries must be received by Sunday, October 2, 2011 by midnight Pacific Standard Time. Make sure to include your email address in the comment form so that we are able to contact you if you are our winner (all email addresses are kept private and visible only to Foundation Restoration). Winners are selected at random and notified via email. Make sure to add firstname.lastname@example.org to your contact list to ensure delivery of the email. Winners will be given 3 days to respond before forfeiting their winnings. Giveaway is only open to those living in the U.S. (Sorry!)
Check out the trailer for Courageous!