“For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God.” 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5
From the previous verse we understand that those who know God are to know how to possess their vessel in a way that is set apart to God. Sanctification means to be set apart to God, therefore, knowing that God is holy, pure, unselfish, and loving to others, the Christian is to live in the same way.
Respect and honor are key ideals in the movie Old Fashioned, which takes a look at the difference between the Biblical mandate to moral purity and the current American culture that is mostly deposed to do the opposite. People are always sinful and driven by many immoral lusts, however, cultures differ with regards to the general moral standards set for public behavior. Regardless of the standards people have as individuals, and there are always some who defiantly brake cultural standards, others will obey them, and still others will do all they can to break them without being caught.
Just two generations ago people understood that boundaries were good for people in a premarital relationship. However, all too often today people who profess to be Christian understand far less how important those boundaries are than the secular society from fifty years ago.
In the movie Clay is man broken under the weight of his past sins, and resolved to live life different than he once did, with regards to his mistreatment of women. Amber is a girl who wanders from place to place in search of love wherever she might find it. She is a free soul, or so she thinks, who is lost in a sea of confusion about the meaning of love and how to go about finding it.
One of the telling lines in the movie concerning Clay’s faith comes after Amber asks him, “Did you find Jesus or something?” He replies, “More like He found me.” Clay exemplifies a godly sorrow that leads to repentance because he is nothing like the man he used to be before he came to know Christ. Jesus said in His high priestly prayer in John 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” To know Jesus is to learn His ways.
The first two thirds of the movie is concerned with Clay trying out his new theories about dating as a Christian, and Amber’s response to a man unlike anyone she has known before. During the course of the movie, however, she comes to realize that the man who shows a woman respect is far more valuable than what the world normally labels as a desirable man. An exciting date cannot replace a person who will commit to a relationship.
Clay has an aunt Zella, who is a church goer, and seems to understand grace and forgiveness far better than her nephew. She desires that he live his life not entangled by the guilt of the past. Towards the end of the movie she confronts him about his self centered behavior; she says to him, “If you were anymore self absorbed, you would be a dot.”
Guilt can be a two edged sword, it can help bring us to repentance or it can crush us when we hold onto our pride. When we say of ourselves, how could I have done such a thing, I don’t deserve to be happy ever again, and place a high moral standard on our previous moral behavior, as if we are not self willed sinners, that is pride. Apart from recognizing our sinfulness there is no need for the good news of the gospel. Jesus died for sinners, so that they might know they are sinners and then be forgiven for their sins.
The gospel is the message of deliverance, love, mercy and compassion from a God who became a man in order to take the sinner’s place as a sacrificial offering. The message of the Gospel is the one thing missing from this otherwise very good movie. The thing that the movie does contain, which it shouldn’t is missionary dating (dating to get a person saved that is not). Clay dates a woman that is not a believer and it is not legalistic to say that is not acceptable.
No one can ever tell if another person is going to become a believer, so when a believer dates an unbeliever it is all too possible for them to give their heart away in disobedience. Worship is serious business, in fact, it is the most serious business that there is. When two people marry they become one according to the Word of God, and to be joined to an unbeliever is to become one with someone that cannot worship rightly.
One of the most dramatic scenes in all the Bible is found in the book of Ezra. The people are called out
by the scribe Ezra to
bear witness to their sins, and while standing in an open square, in the rain, they lament over the sins they committed after returning to the land of promise from a 70 year captivity. Then we read these words,
“Shecaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, said to Ezra, “We have been unfaithful to our God and have married foreign women from the peoples of the land; yet now there is hope for Israel in spite of this. So now let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives and their children, according to the counsel of my lord and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law.” Ezra 10:2, 3
Since the coming of Jesus, Israel has been put aside temporarily as a minister of the Gospel of Christ because of their rejection of Him. God’s choice to use a people to extend His kingdom has shifted from a single bloodline (the Jew) to every tribe, tongue, and nation. It is based on the repentance of sinners that have embraced the person and work of Christ. To Intermarry is still evil in the sight of the Lord, it is just no longer based on separation of Jew and Gentile but believer and unbeliever.
Therefore, the scripture says regarding partnership in worship, which would include partners in marriage, because there is no tighter partnership on earth than the oneness of husband and wife.
“Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?” 2 Corinthians 6:14, 15
Leaving out a clear proclamation of the Gospel in this movie is a great loss, and allowing for missionary dating is not good either. However, Clay is living outside of an unhealthy church, as all too many Christians do in our day. Separated from the church as he is, it is no wonder that he does not understand grace, carries his guilt from the past, and begins to date an unbeliever.
Apart from these shortcomings, the movie in my opinion, clearly illustrates a godly sorrow that leads to repentance. It sets forth healthy boundaries in dating that have been lost in our current culture, which also completely ignores the consequences that result from denying imorality. The way a man treats a woman and a woman a man is vitally important in any relationship, if they are to honor God and love one another.
The conclusion of this movie reveals romance for what it is meant to be, frosting on the cake of marriage, that is, after it is first baked with the proper ingredients of good priorities, self-sacrificing love, honor, and respect. Proper communication is the basis for any good relationship, and this movie does a very good job of making communication the most important part of dating.
A house is only as good as its foundation and a marriage is only as good as the relationship upon which it has been built. If your relationship has been built upon a faulty foundation then replace it with the life and work of Jesus Christ. He forgives all past sins, removes the guilt, renews the heart with a passion for Him and His ways, and restores broken relationships by replacing selfish priorities with self-sacrificing love and respect.