05 May 2008

27 Dresses

I finally got to see it on the plane coming home from Siberia. I'd been wanting to see it all along, but — not only did I not have the time or opportunity to do so when it was playing at a movie theater near me — it is unquestionably a "chick flick," and there is one's pride and male ego to protect. Of course, now here I am blogging about it, so whatever dignity I may have managed to preserve is out the window at this point. Oh, well.

It was, specifically, on the plane from Frankfurt to Chicago that I saw this chick flick in question. A Lufthansa flight. Kudos to that airline for providing individual movie screens in economy class, with a selection of movies available for viewing. In addition to "27 Dresses," I also watched "The Golden Compass," which was neither all that offensive nor all that impressive in my opinion.

As for "27 Dresses," I enjoyed it well enough. It wasn't profound, but it was pleasantly cute and entertaining, as expected. All in all, it was also relatively wholesome in a PG-13 sort of way. I guess it was largely pro-marriage, which is particularly refreshing in this day and age. Besides, with my own daughter getting married in a matter of weeks, I'm feeling suitably emotional about such things right now, and I expect that helps when it comes to watching chick flicks properly.

It does frustrate me that the movie included some implicit fornication. Nothing explicit, but without any doubts as to the implications. As a pastor, this is one of the foremost challenges I have encountered in dealing with couples, and with young people in general. Many Christians do not even seem to realize that sex outside of marriage is not only unwise but sinful. I've had at least one case in which the ostensibly Christian parents of a couple I was counseling had urged them to live together prior to their marriage (even though the couple felt uneasy about such an arrangement). I told them to continue honoring their parents, but to disregard such unfaithful and ungodly advice. Thankfully, in that case, the couple then chose to move apart until after the wedding. But the point is that, what used to be clear to everyone, even to non-Christians, is no longer so clear to most people. Thus, in the movie "27 Dresses," a night of reckless passion is presented as evidence of compatability. All the more disappointing, in addition to the immorality of it, because the movie had otherwise done a very nice job of demonstrating a compatability of shared values and interests and personality, which served the story line better than illicit sex.

Anyway, despite that disappointment — sadly far too common in movies anymore (for which reason I have generally retreated to the relative safety of animated family films) — "27 Dresses" did attempt to portray the marriage estate as a positively good thing, and as one that ought to be entered into seriously, with honesty and integrity. That point was welcome and appreciated, even if it was not terribly sophisticated or thought-provoking in its presentation and development.

There was one particular point, however, which struck me as rather significant. And, even if quite by accident, I daresay that it offered a theologically profound insight. Yes, yes, I realize that sounds like more than a bit of a stretch, but I think it's true.

Both the leading lady, Jane, and her eventual groom, Kevin, in the course of the movie identify the thing they look for and love the most about weddings. It isn't the gorgeous bride as she makes her grand entrance, but at that point they each prefer to look to the other end of the aisle, to observe the look upon the groom's face as he beholds and awaits his lovely beloved. There they find such love and happiness displayed, it is the real highlight of the entire event.

That's a pretty cool observation, even as far as pop psychology goes. But it did also occur to me, afterwards, that it points us to the One who is the heavenly Bridegroom of us all. Marriage always has been about Jesus, from the very beginning, and it should point us to Him above all. Brides are rightly decked out, in so far as propriety may permit, but precisely as a confession of that which is bestowed upon the Church by the charity of Christ. As C.S. Lewis observes in his wonderful little book, The Four Loves, the Lord does not find His Bride lovely, but He makes her so with His love for her. She is resplendent in the radiated glory of the One who gives Himself for her. Thus, even the beauty of the blushing bride direct our gaze to the gracious Groom.

So it is that I find myself in complete agreement with Jane and Kevin: Look at the Groom! If the bride is so gorgeous, it is because the Groom is so gracious. And that is finally true for all of us who are cleansed by the washing of water with His Word and Holy Spirit.

I'll be torn, I realize, when it comes to my Beanie's wedding. I suspect that, as I walk her down the aisle, I'm going to be in one of those surrealistic states of mind that can hardly take anything in very clearly. If I have my Beanie-Belle on my arm, I guess I won't really be able to look at her, anway, without steering her into the pews. But more important: The Father looks to the Man who will receive the Woman . . . so that's where I'll be headed, too. A human father's heart can probably never bring itself to admire anyone so much as his own daughter, but, truth be told, it'll be in Sam's face that I get to see the love that makes my Beanie a bride. Just as we behold the Light of the revelation of the Glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus, our Savior, to whom we are presented in the unblemished radiance of His perfect righteousness. That's far and away the best dress of all, which finally takes the cake.


Rev. James Leistico said...

Luther makes a similar point to Lewis' in the Heidleburg Disputation, if I remember correctly

the celebrated author said...

I thought that uncomfortable bit of the movie rather retracted from the overall story rather than added to it. I was quite disappointed.