Redeeming Love creates opportunities for gospel conversations / Chloe Newton

“My love isn’t a weapon, it’s a lifeline, reach out and take hold, and don’t let go.”

This quote is undoubtedly from a love story. Anyone could picture a young man speaking this to the love of his life. Yet, the love story this quote derives from is unorthodox. This love story is centered around a prostitute, which seems to be a paradox. However, the Bible and Francine River’s Redeeming Love would beg to differ. After 30 prolonged years of waiting, the well-known Christian romance novel finally debuted in movie theaters. 

Katya Blackwell, a junior from Hattiesburg, Miss., who has read Redeeming Love 15 times said, “I was really excited because I thought it was going to be almost word-for-word from the book.”

Because Redeeming Love was based on the book of Hosea in the Bible, it creates endless opportunities for Christians to share the gospel. Taking place in Paradise, Calif., during the gold rush of the 1850s, the loose interpretation of Hosea captures biblical themes incomprehensible to the world. But what a great way to start conversations for the Kingdom of God!

People love discussing their favorite films, scores, characters, and scenes. Films are in a sense a love language to modern society. Movies, like Redeeming Love, with a large focus on morals create opportunities for evangelical Christians to meet the culture where it is. 

Cass Harris, a freshman from Kimberly, Ala., said, “[Forgiveness] is not something that makes sense to people.” 

The biblical account of Hosea is a metaphor for the relationship between God and His unfaithful people. River’s characters Angel (Abigail Cowen) and Michael Hosea (Tom Lewis) represent the prophet, Hosea, and the prostitute, Gomer. While the book of Hosea is written exclusively from the perspective of the prophet, the movie swings back and forth between the perspectives of Angel and Michael.

PC: Universal; Caption: Angel (Abigail Cowen) and Michael (Tom Lewis) wake up for an early sunrise. Lewis slayed his first major role as Michael Hosea.

Lewis, having never starred in any other major films, used his eyes to capture his emotions unlike any other actor in the movie. His eyes reveal a clear story of longing, patience, disappointment, forgiveness, and a hint of jealousy (the righteous kind of course; he is a representation of God). Throughout the film, one motive depicted in the eyes of Michael remains constant. Love.

When Michael first lays eyes on Angel, after his marriage to her, and through each time that Angel unjustifiably runs away from the safety of his home, Michael’s love remains steadfast just like the love God has for His people. Besides love, themes of identity, forgiveness, and redemption seep through the story. 

Harris related heavily to Angel’s struggle with identity. 

Angel talked about how she would always be the same person and how she would never be anything more than a prostitute. She never saw herself as Michael’s wife or any of the things he told her that she was. In highschool, I thought I could never be anything else. But the Lord had something else.

These themes are clearly interwoven into the story. But in the special case of Redeeming Love, the question is not whether or not the themes were distinct but whether or not the film did the biblical symbolism justice. For a Christian, who has experienced the complete forgiveness and grace of God first hand, yes the symbolism is evident. However, for a nonbeliever, it was not so.

“To a non-believer, the movie just looks like another romance story. It wasn’t very clear that Michael was trying to portray God’s love and Angel as us being sinners,” said Blackwell.

PC: Chloe Newton; Caption: Katya Blackwell, junior, has read Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers 15 times. She was extremely excited to see the story come to life on the big screen.

Unlike most love stories, Redeeming Love carries more depth to it. Topics of prostitution, incest, and Hebefilia are discussed and insinuated. Viewers should proceed in caution when watching the film. Despite the PG-13 rating, the film contains two graphic scenes.

Some scenes are difficult to watch and are even more difficult to discuss. But the truth is, this world is broken and is filled with broken people. Stories like Redeeming Love reflect this truth. Truth the world doesn’t want to hear. But this film is an aid to Christians to share the hope of Jesus Christ to the world. It’s like God is handing His people the perfect opportunity to share the gospel. In addition, believers need to be reminded of Jesus and his grace. Sisters and brothers in Christ need to be spiritually fed too.

When Christians participate in watching movies like Redeeming Love, hearts and minds should be set on searching for the gospel. The apostle, Paul, tells believers in Colossae, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Col. 3:2, ESV, 2016)

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