Thursday, April 11, 2013


Temptation and the 
True Nature of Marriage
By Jan McClure

Movie Review of
Confessions of a Marriage Counselor
Director:  Tyler Perry
Cast:  Jurnee Smolett-Bell, Lance Gross, Robbie Jones, 
Brandy Norwood, Ella Joyce, Vanessa Williams, Kim Kardashian

The Tyler Perry movies I have seen usually embrace religion, however never quite this directly and seriously.  This movie is an adaptation from his 2008 play “The Marriage Counselor”. 

The movie begins with a marriage counselor (an Ivy League educated “relationship expert”) telling this tale to a wife she suspects is cheating on her husband.  The story is about Judith (the counselor, played by Jurnee Smolett-Bell) and Brice (played by Lance Gross).  They are childhood friends and very involved with their church in a small southern town.  They marry and move to Washington, D.C.  Brice works at a pharmacy and Judith, after graduating with a masters degree in counseling, works for a high-end dating service owned by Janice (Vanessa Williams).  Kim Kardashian also plays the part of Ava, an employee and “fashionista” at the agency. 

Judith is different than everyone else at the agency, because she dresses conservatively, has morals and refers often to her husband.  Then a potential investor and multi-millionaire social networking mogul named Harley (played by Robbie Jones) enters the picture and is intrigued by this woman who believes in no sex before marriage, monogamy and always cooking meals for her husband. 

Harley and Judith have to work on a project, and Harley begins to pay attention to her at the same time her husband forgets her birthday for the second year in a row.  On a business trip to New Orleans via his private jet, she gives into his advances and her growing desire to have an affair with him.

After Harley accomplishes his quest, his controlling behavior becomes evident as well as his problem with drugs and alcohol.  Judith follows him down that path.  Meanwhile, her husband Brice is still in denial about this affair, but her mom Sarah (played by Ella Joyce) is not fooled and warns her of the dangerous path she is heading down. 

As with most sinners, Judith rejects the truth and moves further away from anything that points out her sin. Don’t we all do that?

In the end, Judith pays a very high price and the movie shows the consequences.  As Catholics, we are taught that our sins don’t just affect us, but all of the Body of Christ (everyone, the whole Church).  This movie graphically portrays this. 

In the end, Judith has many regrets, but she finds peace by going back to her Church. 

This movie, which is rated PG-13 with sexual content, was very slow-moving in the beginning, and the acting at times was not that great, but the last half of the film was much better and I became involved with the characters’ emotions.   The theatre was not very full, but you could tell there were a lot of Christians in the audience by what they laughed at, and there were quite of few “Amens”.

The film is good for thinking about desire, monogamy, and how, if we stop going to church and neglect opportunities to be fed by what our church offers, we become more open to the temptations of demons.  It also showed that when we are in the depths of sin, we don’t want to hear about praying, church or anything that is of the Truth.

I don’t know if a non-Christian could get past some of the movie’s downfalls in order to think about these messages, but I found myself thinking about them for quite a while afterwards.  I pondered how the workplace can be such a place of temptation and, without a good foundation such as belief in the laws of love and the 10 commandments, how easy it is to fall into the trap of giving into sinful desires. 

The world tells us that if it feels good, do it, but Christ teaches us that love is a choice.  It is our free will to make a choice to do the will of God, which in marriage is to be a total gift of ourselves, just as our Lord was for us.  (Just look at a crucifix and know that he gave himself totally and it was a choice he made.)  That is what love looks like.

Blessed Pope John Paul II in his Theology of the Body tells us that marriage is to be free, total, faithful and fruitful.  Having an understanding of this divine definition of marriage would certainly help our marriages and protect the true definition of marriage in legislations and the government.  Most folks haven’t a clue what true marriage is really about.  (To learn more about the Theology of the Body, a good starter book is Theology of the Body for Beginners by Christopher West.) 

Questions for youth groups, families, and other small group discussions (and we hope you will post a comment below!):
  1. How can the 10 commandments help to protect a marriage? 
  2. How do the Sacraments help a marriage?
  3. Are we fighting a spiritual war in marriage?  Why is marriage so often attacked?
  4. How is a good marriage free, total, faithful and fruitful?

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