2012-02-11

The Vow – Figuring Out What Real Love Is

by Yo Snyder

Valentine’s
Day is right around the corner and we can expect Hollywood to provide us with
that perfect date-night movie. The Vow, starring Channing Tatum and
Rachel McAdams, hit theaters Friday and left the female viewers wishing for a “love
like that” in this new romantic drama.

When
McAdams’ character, Paige, loses her memory in a bad car accident, she no
longer remembers her husband or the vows they made to each other. Her husband,
Leo, played by Tatum, knows her memory loss doesn’t erase his love for her or
the vows he took. Despite her inability to love him the way he loves her, he
does his best to win her heart again.

It’s a
touching love story with a fresh twist, to be sure. But it’s the story behind
the story that I found to be a perfect account of true love versus Hollywood
love. The decisions made in the writing of the new movie demonstrate perfectly
how our culture wants nothing to do with God’s idea of a love story. We want to
write our own.

Don’t
get me wrong. I enjoyed The Vow , thought it was a very well-made movie
and appreciated the creators for keeping it mostly decent and principled
compared to most Hollywood films. I’m proud of them for telling a story that
values marriage and commitment instead of promoting promiscuity and infidelity
as normal and expected in our society. It was a relief.

However,
it is still rated PG-13 and not appropriate for viewers under that age limit. I
encourage older teens to be highly discerning with some of the sexual material
in the movie.

The
Vow
was actually
inspired by a true story, though with quite a few alterations. I understand
Hollywood’s liberty to change details from the original story to appeal to a 21st
century audience. However, it’s this
drift from the original story that makes a statement.  

Apparently,
God’s love stories don’t sell. Our movies and cable-television shows have given
us the idea that love is centered on feelings, passion and desire. So what
happens when Leo realizes that Paige no longer feels anything for him?
Eventually, he signs the divorce papers. The feelings of shared love were gone.
The vows they made to each other no longer applied when the emotions faded.

But
that’s not what we saw in the lives of Kim and Krickitt Carpenter – the native
New Mexican couple whose story inspired the movie. Something that Kim, the
husband, told reporters says it all, “I made a vow before God. It didn’t
matter if she remembered me or not,” And he never signed divorce papers.

In the
1993 car accident, Krickitt Carpenter lost her memory due to a brain injury ten
weeks after the wedding and has never gained it back. Today, she and her
husband Kim live in Farmington, NM with two kids. That was a hard year for Kim
and his wife, but it wasn’t without prayer. It wasn’t without faith in Jesus
Christ.

Kim
knew the vows they made weren’t centered on the way they felt about each other.
They were based on the promise they made to one another and to God. So even
when the feelings faded or disappeared entirely, Kim held to his promise.
Krickitt, knowing she made the vows, eventually honored it and worked to
rekindle the love they felt.

For
the Carpenters, the vows came first, and the emotions second. For Leo and
Paige, emotions came first and the vows second. The love Paige once felt was
lost in unreachable memory. Leo couldn’t force her to stay married to a
stranger and he let her go.

God
warns us not to trust our feelings and commands us to love one another (which
is an act, not a feeling). Perhaps the divorce rate in this country would be
much lower if couples understood this. If they didn’t put so much weight in
their emotions and honored their commitments first.

Even
more, I find it frustrating how often the benefits of a relationship are taken
out of order in the movies we see. In The Vow, Leo and Paige “fall in
love at first sight”, have sexual relations, move in together, then get married
spontaneously. Kim and Krickitt Carpenter, however, get to know each other over
the phone for half a year before meeting in person and get married before any
intimacy.

It’s
the 21st century though; Hollywood must think a story like that is
unrealistic and the one they told more believable. Well, Kim and Krickitt’s
story was the true one, and The Vow,
fictional. Personally, I find the story of a marriage grounded in Christ more
believable and realistic that a marriage without Him.

God
asks us to be influenced by the story told by the Carpenter’s, not by
Hollywood. Hollywood’s version of love and marriage was not the way God
designed it to be. Perhaps we’re not quite thinking of marriage just yet. But
this applies to behavior and expectations in dating too. It’s just as easy to
get emotionally attached to someone and mistake it for love in any
relationship. It’s dangerously easy to find false intimacy in a relationship
and mistake it for romance. So many of us fall into traps like this and find
the attachment too hard to break.

But
with Jesus Christ, all things are possible. With His plan for love and
marriage, a happily-ever-after is promised.

Remember
this Valentine’s day, whether in or out of a relationship, how important it is
to guard your heart. God warns us over and over of this in His Word. When the
14th rolls around, take some time to pray for your current or future
spouse. Ask that God gives you the strength and discernment to know the
difference between a Godly relationship and a “Hollywoodized” one.

Happy
Valentine’s Day everyone!