‘Old Fashioned’ faith romance clashes with ‘Fifty Shades’

What happens when a God-honoring romantic movie is released on the same weekend as “Fifty Shades of Grey,” one of the most sexually exploitive (and popular) stories of our time?

We’re about to find out.

The faith-based movie is “Old Fashioned,” a Valentine’s Day film that turns everything America believes about dating on its head and proves that true romance is found in upholding biblical values, not following trashy novels.

It tells the story of a Christian single man who has developed “old-fashioned” views of dating, years after a promiscuous college life. His theories about romance are put to the test when he meets a free-spirited young woman who is new in town and who is taken aback by his “outdated” beliefs. For starters, he refuses to be alone with her at her apartment. There obviously is mutual interest, but can they make a traditional courtship work in modern-day America?

“Old Fashioned” was written and directed by Rik Swartzwelder, who said he wanted to make a movie telling the story of Christian singles who are swimming against the cultural tide in trying to find romance. Most faith-based romance movies, he said, are either set in the 1800s or on an Amish farm.

He wrote the story at a time when he and his single friends were looking to find mates. Swartzwelder stars in the lead role.

“No one had really ever seen a romantic drama that told our story,” he told Refreshed. “We never saw a movie about a bunch of singles who loved God and wanted to honor God, but were looking to fall in love and get married. I started thinking: What if you took two 30-somethings who had a history, who have baggage, and you have a character who was trying to honor God after the fact?”

The movie—well-received thus far in audience screenings—initially was set for release last fall. But when Universal announced it was pushing out “Fifty Shades of Grey” over Valentine’s Day weekend, Swartzwelder and others decided to delay the release of “Old-Fashioned.” Variety and Time magazine each have taken note of the David vs. Goliath worldview clash.

“We actually think this could be a gift from God,” Swartzwelder said of the timing. “This is a real opportunity to push the cultural discussion.”

The church, too, needs to hear the film’s message, Swartzwelder said. He once did a survey of women—Christian and non-Christian—and asked them two questions: Could you describe your perfect date? Could you describe your perfect mate?

Both Christians and non-Christians gave nearly identical answers, he said. For a date, they wanted romance. But for a mate, they gave different answers: someone who is faithful, someone who is honest, someone who is good with kids.

“Everything about American culture trains us to be good dates, not necessarily good mates,” he said. “We’re experts at wooing.”

Swartzwelder intentionally wrote the story to include singles whose sexual past was not pure.

“We wanted to hold up a godly standard,” he said. “But we didn’t want to heap guilt on anyone who has made mistakes, who already feels broken and already feels like love has passed them by. Life isn’t neat and tidy for everybody.”

“Old Fashioned” is rated PG-13 for thematic elements. It contains no language, nudity or explicit sexuality. It deals with adult themes but not in an exploitive way.

Learn more at www.oldfashionedmovie.com.

— by Michael Foust

Foust is an editor and writer, the father of three small children, and blogs about parenting at MichaelFoust.com.


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