I recently attended a film festival at Union University featuring the work of students. One of the first films shown was a thirty minute story about a young couple.
The plot was simple and touching. A young man expresses his romantic interest in a waitress at a diner. They fall in love and marry to the disapproval of her parents, who don't think much of the young fellow. After a brief period of happiness, the two lose their jobs and fall upon hard times. Indeed, they become homeless and are forced to live in a tent and steal baths in the swimming pool of a local apartment complex.
I won't give away the ending, which was nicely done and brought about a big, appreciative response from the audience. Instead, I want to focus on the main idea presented in the story. The primary thought expressed throughout is that even if a young person has nothing else, it is enough to have the sincere love of a husband or wife. You can be homeless and desperate. You can be almost without food or access to taken for granted resources like bathrooms and showers. But if you have committed, romantic love, then you have everything you need.
I am certain that this thought, put over in a very charming and inspiring way is what caused the students to cheer as they did. The film deserved their applause. It demonstrated talent and imagination. It did what films are supposed to do which is to inspire us and make us think.
But despite my admiration, I disagree with the message as nicely as I possibly can. Thinking in the way the film suggests is right and ideal strikes me as a recipe for unhappiness. Marriage is beautiful. Romance is one of the most delightful experiences in life. Commitment is a rock in life which makes many great things possible. But marriage, portrayed in the film as the ultimate in romantic love which abides no matter the challenges, is not enough. The line from Jerry Maguire ("You complete me.") is not true.