Yesterday morning I had one of the most triggering moments post-fundamentalism I've had in a very long time. It took place at the large mainstream denomination church my husband and I now attend. It involved the movie 'War Room', a recent release from the same folks that did the films, 'Fireproof' and 'Courageous'
this last summer I had the opportunity to see 'War Room' in the early
days of its theatrical run. I went with a few blogger pals who were
writing reviews of the film. I'd planned on writing about my impressions
of the film for NLQ, but with the long busy days of summer that didn't
happen. I went into the viewing not expecting much because so many of
these 'Christian'-type movies are sappy, preachy, heavy-handed with the
message with very poor production values. It sometimes feels like
watching the world's dumbest Lifetime Movie Network movie. So my
expectations were already in the realistic range for the movie before my
popcorn had started to cool off.
the time the film was over one of the friends I went with turned to the
rest of us and uttered quite plainly, 'What the fuck did I just watch?'
That phrase pretty much succinctly summed up my feelings about 'War
Room' The film was so awful on so many different levels, almost as awful
as 'Showgirls' but without the fake breasts, nude female flesh, fancy
manicures and potato-chip eating.
Room' has in common with 'Attack Killer Tomatoes' and 'Showgirls' one
big thing. Every single artistic decision made was the wrong one. The
dialogue is hokey and belabored, one of the main characters is that
Hollywood stock character/trope known as the "Magical Negro",
the film is preachier than an IFB pastor on speed at a tent revival,
filled with simplistic formulas that do not work, and comparing it to a
Lifetime movie is an insult to Lifetime. It's much worse than its
predecessors in the Christian film genre. Even worse that the
cringe-inducing purity ball-esque father-daughter moment that was in
What makes 'War Room' much more dangerous and awful of a film than 'Killer Tomatoes' is the main message of the film. Which is
'Shut up about your unhappiness in your marriage, about the emotional
abuse, submit at a deeper level, start praying hard and your husband
will love and esteem you, treating you like the queen of his life.'
some dangerous thinking that is rampant in Evangelical Christianity
that has left a long trail of dead women and children, not to mention
the thousands who've silently suffered more abuse under this dangerous
idea. If someone is emotionally abusing you it's not that big of a hop,
skip and jump to physical abuse, or financial abuse.
a very unhealthy idea that to end borderline emotional abuse is to be
even more sacrificial. Giving the other person a license to ramp up
their abuse of you. How many stories at No Longer Quivering have we had
of mothers and wives trying desperately to turn the hearts of their
husbands even more to them by being gentler, more kind, quieter,
sweeter, by being more submissive only to be pushed to the breaking
point by a man who has turned into a petty tyrant over the course of
time? So how did that work out? It didn't!
you can change the behavior of an abuser simply by changing your
reaction to them and treatment of them is a good way to end up beaten or
dead. Pushing this as the 'Christian' way is simply disingenuously
leading women deeper into abuse.
no simple formulas to make a marriage work, but some of the things
shown going on in this family are red flags of abuse potential. Taking
the advice of the elderly 'wise' woman in this film only creates an
environment for abuse to flourish.
yesterday. I'm sitting on the platform with worship team when the
trailer for this film comes up on the video screens and I find out my
very mainstream church is promoting a movie night with 'War Room' I just
about fell out of the chair. Later, after the service, I approached on
of the assistant pastors I have a friendly relationship with about my
concerns that showing 'War Room' is tacitly approving of the lie that at
a woman's behavior can change a man. Sadly she told me that the film
was the best film she'd ever seen and we'd have to agree to disagree. I
came away from our encounter in tears, tears because I know first hand
how dangerous this type of theology is and that in mainstream
Christianity there tends to be a tone-deafness to the abusive ideas
pushed in much of Evangelical and Fundamentalist Christianity.
question that this brings to mind for me is how do we best combat the
poisonous ideas of QF that end up being promoted, however innocently, in
the mainstream parts of society? These are ideas that must die if
we're to move on to a safer, just and more sane society.