Why “Redeeming Love” Is Sparking Controversy

Francine Rivers’ love story based on the Old Testament book Hosea, has sold over 3 million copies since its release in 1991. Now the long-awaited movie adapted from the book “Redeeming Love” is finally in theaters!

The origin of this book has a redemption story of its own. Francine was a romance novel author when she became a Christian. Her new faith inspired her to combine that passion for writing with a purpose of telling others about Christ. Francine says,

“Fiction is always meant to go back to the real thing”.

This is one reason the movie adaptation took 30 years. Francine wanted to be sure the movie would accurately convey the message she intended.

Of course, a plot about a prophet who was told by God to marry a prostitute is not an easy story to tell. The relationship between the prophet Hosea and Angel (based on the biblical character Gomer) is far from your typical boy meets girl rom-com.

Communicating the story of what life events lead a young girl to make a living by selling herself is not easy, especially when you are creating for a largely Christian audience. The Redeeming Love movie does not hold back in painting the picture of the things people in this story could have endured.

Because of this gritty, real portrayal, a few scenes have sparked conversation and controversy over whether they are appropriate given their violent and sexual content. While Focus on the Family’s Pluggedin review appreciates the realistic approach, they question the necessity of the sexual content.

The movie contrasts the depravity of the sexual sin forced on Angel with the celebration of what sex should be like in a loving marriage. Francine told Christianity Today,

“There’s a point to the scenes and a reason for them to be in there. I think there is a place for a tastefully done love scene to try to show the difference between what the world says love is and what God says love is.”

So why is there so much controversy when it comes to Christianity and entertainment and what should we do about it?

Remember we’re all coming from a different place.

God created us to be unique. When we sit down in front of that big screen, we bring to the story vastly different home lives, religious views, life circumstances and personalities. What one person may describe as sensual or steamy may feel tame to someone else. A scene from this movie could evoke memories of fear, guilt or anger to someone with a history of abuse. Another may greatly rejoice in their redemption.

Similar debates rise in the church when we begin to discuss things like what people are wearing or how loud the drums are. We don’t always agree on the methods, but we should focus on the message and realize different people need to be reached in different ways.

Be Aware.

It is wise to do your research before you see a movie or recommend one to a friend. Psalms 19:14 tells us the things we say and the things we think about should be pleasing to God. Ask yourself if the content lines up with the standard God has set. With “Redeeming Love,” you can compare the original truth of the story in the Bible and ask yourself, “does this message glorify God?” It’s not easy, but it is important to do your research and ask the Lord what He thinks. Know where you stand and know what’s true before blindly sharing the opinions of others or what you assume to be true.

Use the opportunity.

Don’t let all the conversation be dominated with debates on content. The world is full of movies leading people down the wrong path. When a movie chooses to beautifully display the story of redemption in Christ, use it to help explain the concepts of our faith.

The story of Hosea is the story of us… We’re all Angel.

Our situation may not be as extreme, but life has handed us a lot of darkness. We may not like it, but for some reason we find comfort in it. It’s what we know and where we find temporary provision or pleasure. Christ (like Hosea) is pursuing us with light and life. His plan is infinitely better. He chose to love us, not because of anything we’ve done but because love is who He is. He created us and we belong to Him. We keep trying to go back to the things we think are right for us, yet God relentlessly pursues us. He’s not going to make us love him. It must be our choice. Francine says,

“That’s always been the most important thing for me: to make sure the movie shows what God’s love is like – passionate, patient, persistent, everlasting. I hope people leave the theaters understanding how long-suffering, passionate and wonderful God’s love is for each of us.”

Francine has also been inspired by the stories of countless women who have contacted her with their own stories of sexual abuse. She has partnered with Holly Caruso wife of director, D.J. Caruso, to start the Redeeming Love Sanctuary Foundation to prevent sex trafficking and help survivors of trafficking and abuse. Francine and her husband of 52 years, Rick, consider the book and movie “Redeeming Love” as belonging to God and are donating all their profits to the foundation.

Watch the “Redeeming Love” Trailer
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Ginger Edwards
Ginger Edwards
January 31, 2022 10:15 am

I saw the movie and I liked it a lot. I would have to agree that it does a great job of showing the contrast between what she was forced to do as a prostitute and the love she and her husband shared. In my opinion it wouldn’t be authentic without those scenes. If people want the Hallmark version, they should watch hallmark instead.

Silver Fox
Silver Fox
Reply to  Ginger Edwards
February 2, 2022 3:27 pm

Those scenes are erotica and voyeristic phonography. They are explicit and leave nothing to be implied. The redemption that is shown in by the scene, could very well be depicted with lease graphic visuals, followed up by dialoged. The end NEVER out way the means. If someone sins and good still comes from it, THEY STILL SINNED…period.

Anyone that thinks the scenes are ok, should be ok with their spouse to watch porn, as long as the nipples and genitalia are blurred.

Alexandria Hope
Alexandria Hope
Reply to  Silver Fox
February 6, 2022 3:42 pm

Oh my gosh, I so totally agree with you, Silver Fox. We don’t need to SEE sin!! My parents won’t allow me to watch this movie because of the sex/sinful scenes. Yes, the Bible does have some explicit stories/descriptions, but there was never graphics in there. People can easily sexualize someone for dressing immodestly by revealing what’s embraced in today’s culture, and that’s a sin. Causing another person to sin by your own sin is so wrong. The movie does make a good point on love, especially since she’s a sex slave, but we don’t need to watch those parts… Read more »

Reply to  Alexandria Hope
May 25, 2023 12:28 pm

I think the main problem is not the brothel scenes. The nudity there is actually very limited, just showing enough to establish that this is what life was like in the brothel for Angel. I don’t think any of the brothel scenes felt erotic or sensual, and the scene between Paul and Angel is completely offscreen. It’s actually the love scenes with Michael that are more problematic: even though they’re mostly clothed in those scenes, the body movement simulates very specific sex motions. And while the acts themselves are sinless as they are between a husband and wife, the fact… Read more »

August 24, 2022 5:47 pm

Not all Christians watch only Christian movies but this movie speaks of how sin is so depressing & dirty yet for some it’s all they’ve known. It is raw & real. It beautifully portrays God’s love that never gives up on us no matter how many times we run back into sin.It shows unconditional love. Love & forgiveness that is given because God gave it first. No, this movie is not a Pureflic movie & should be reserved for adults. It was filmed in a discretionary way & if you have watched anything on Netflix or even prime time, you… Read more »

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