Today we watched Real Steel. It was a good movie. Here are some of my thoughts on it and my family.
Fatherhood is important. I’m reading Voddie Baucham’s book, What He must Be if He Wants to Marry my Daughter. I’m challenged by the task at hand in being a husband and father. This movie shows the importance of a dad in a child’s life. The solution or resolution at the end is a bit shallow and incomplete in terms of the father-son relationship, and it doesn’t seem like in the near future (of where the story ends) it would be made right. But it did powerfully show that fathers should love and serve their children and that they should “fight” for them at all times, no matter what. I was moved to tears twice. Fighting who isn’t explicitly answered in the movie, though it’s a great pun granted the theme of robots fighting. For real fathers in the real world, we must fight sin in us and in our children (including but not limited to self-righteousness and legalism), Satan, the godless values pushed and promoted in our culture, and the unbelief of those we’re called to love and save from their sin.
The movie made the dad look dumb. I appreciate the powerful emotion and frustration produced in me as I observed the father’s stupid, thoughtless, and rash decisions. Some might take that to mean all dads are dumb and kids know better. That was certainly the case in this movie. But it wasn’t the case for me growing up and I strive to not make it the case in the way I raise my children. Some fathers are fools and never learn true wisdom. But honoring a father (and mother) is not an option, even if you’re dad is the most foolish and unwise man on earth.
Past mistakes need not limit or bind present decisions. The movie eschews fatalism. Bad choices by a father need not doom him forever. Fathers can start to make right choices to bless and strengthen their children. I’m glad the father did in the movie. I pray more fathers will.
I wonder if I would have been as moved if I wasn’t a dad. I think I would’ve, but I can’t know for sure. This movie strengthened my resolve to be a good father and husband and to make sure I stamp my children with that legacy for them to pass on or affirm and strengthen in their future husbands. It also makes me look at the men in CrossView Church with a burden to see them waste their manhood or their fatherhood. It’s so crucial.
This movie in the end reflects some of the good the culture still holds to by God’s common grace: the importance of fatherhood, the opportunity for change in the future, learning from the past, admitting your mistakes, fighting for your kids, the fact there should be a happy ending for all the pain and struggle we face in this world. But the movie also shapes and reflect the bad and foolish things our culture values: the insignificance of marriage and most importantly just flat out ignoring God. I’m not saying that all movies should explicitly mention God or Jesus Christ, but there has to be a way of telling stories that still honor him as God, even if implicitly (sort of Esther). I’m not sure where that train of thought leads, but I’m happy to tease that out further when given the time and opportunity.