By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
HAUGHTON – While communication and money are common problems in marriages, Kirk Cameron believes the main problem is selfishness.
“Selfishness poisons everything,” Cameron said. “The heart of the problem in my marriage is the problem of my heart. I know without the intervention of God I will destroy the most precious relationship I have on the planet and that is my wife. I am bent toward selfishness by nature. It is only God who can cure a selfish heart.”
Cameron shared his thoughts on marriage at the Love Worth Fighting For conference Sunday, April 30, at First Baptist Church in Haughton, and at First Baptist Church in West Monroe on Saturday, April 29. In addition to Cameron’s message, speaker and singer/songwriter Warren Barfield also shared some inspirational thoughts on the subject.
Known for his role as young Mike Seaver on the ABC sitcom “Growing Pains” in the 1980s, Cameron now uses his notoriety on the big screen to share the Gospel. He can be seen alongside evangelist Ray Comfort presenting Christ on the video series “Way of the Master” and has starred in such films as “Left Behind” and “Fireproof.”
During Love Worth Fighting For, Cameron made several references to the character he portrayed, Caleb Holt, in “Fireproof.” In the film, Holt and his wife, Catherine, have a troubled marriage but in the end find restoration through Christ.
Cameron said couples can learn many tips and techniques about marriage, but such efforts will be wasted if they do not have a spiritual transformation of the heart.
“It’s baked into you and me to become selfish,” he said. “If the heart of your problem is the problem of your heart, then Dr. Ruth, Dr. Phil and Dr. Laura can’t help you. You need to pay a visit to the only qualified soul doctor in the universe and his name is Jesus Christ.”
Alluding to the character he played in the movie Fireproof, Cameron said Holt’s greatest threat to his marriage was the selfishness of his own heart. Once he realized it, Holt then recognized the need to overhaul his own life. This is what enabled him to then love his wife in a way that was genuine, true and lasting.
“I know you want a great marriage, a strong marriage,” he said. “You and I do not have the equipment it takes naturally speaking to make our marriage blossom and flourish and work. It won’t help without you coming to God with a genuine desire to surrender to His will and His ways.”
Cameron said in “Fireproof,” Holt and his wife were under one roof but living separate lives. Once Holt began the Love Dare series of challenges designed to help save his marriage, he became frustrated during the first few days he started following the action steps. Eventually, Holt realized he first had to confront his own problem of selfishness and lay it down at the cross of Christ, coming face to face with his biggest problem.
“He could see this stark contrast between the love of God demonstrated for Him and that while he rejected God all these years, God lays down His life for him,” Cameron said. “Contrast that with the sad and lame picture of what he was showing toward his wife simply to get what he wanted from her in return. That’s not love.
“When he stopped looking down on his wife and lifted his eyes up to the cross, suddenly all of Catherine’s cruel and hurtful responses no longer mattered to him,” he said. “He was overwhelmed with something much greater than what he wasn’t getting from his wife.
“He was overwhelmed with a sense of conviction about his own selfishness and rebellion and sin,” he said. “And he was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude for the kindness and the mercy God was willing to show him in spite of what he deserved. And it changed him. It was the turning point in his mind and in his heart.”
For those with spouses who are just like the character Catherine, Cameron said to do like Holt and stop trying to change the other person.
“God reserves the privilege of changing your spouse for Himself,” he said. “Get your part right. If you can do that, then you can trust God to use you as a vessel through whom he will bring about change in your spouse in His time.
“It’s not about getting a new spouse,” he said. “It’s about giving your spouse a new you.”
Cameron said in this fight to preserve and save one’s marriage, another particular sin threatens a fruitful marriage – pornography. He said this sin devours one’s marriage and family, but yet can be hidden and concealed.
While many restraining devices such as an accountability partner and filter can help to a certain degree, there are ways around such safeguards. Rather, a better solution is to remove that which is the root of the problem.
He referenced in “Fireproof” a time when Holt removed his home computer, which he used to access pornographic images. After throwing the device away, Holt then placed flowers for his wife in the place where his computer once stood.
“He calls it what God calls it,” Cameron said. “He identifies it as the enemy. He calls them the parasites because they are draining the life out of him and his marriage. And he drags it to out to the street, wages war and cuts its head off like a viper. He dealt violently with it because he understood how violently it was dealing with him. He then transferred all of that desire to where it belonged, to something that was good and beautiful and true. And he replaced the altar where his lust once worshipped at the computer desk with a large bouquet of roses for his wife with a note ‘I love you more.’”
Kyle Williams, a member of First Baptist Church in Greenwood, said the conference was eye opening.
“It focused on our relationship with Christ being first,” he said. “Everything flows from that. And he reminded us that all problems start from selfish needs.”
Deanna Triplet, a member of First Baptist Church in Haynesville, said the conference was beneficial even for those like herself who have a healthy marriage.
“We personally think we have a great marriage, but like our spiritual lives there is always room for improvement and to have the knowledge and wisdom to fight for your marriage if needed,” she said.
Kristin Canterberry, a member of Salem Baptist Church in Farmerville, attended the conference at First Baptist Church in West Monroe. Canterberry said the conference was a reminder of the importance of a God-centered marriage.
“Often life gets us so busy we forget about taking care of why we fell in love and what we loved most each other,” she said. “This mini conference helped my husband and I realize we can’t lose sight of protecting our marriage and treasuring it. Our marriage is worth fighting for because no one else will.”