Francine Rivers on New Movie Redeeming Love: the 'Whole Thing Is about Jesus'
The new movie Redeeming Love may spotlight a brothel and one man's sacrificial love for an ungrateful prostitute, but at its core, the story is "about Jesus," author Francine Rivers says.
The film, rated PG-13, is based on Rivers' 1991 romance novel about a man named Michael Hosea who pursues a local prostitute, Angel, for marriage. He's not interested in sex but instead in rescuing her from sexual slavery – and in beginning a life together as husband and life. Rivers drew inspiration for the novel from the biblical book of Hosea.
The story is set in the 1850s California Gold Rush.
It stars Abigail Cowen (Stranger Things, I Still Believe) as Angel and Tom Lewis (Gentleman Jack) in the lead roles. Rivers co-wrote the screenplay with D.J. Caruso (I Am Number Four, xXx: Return of Xander Cage), the director.
The story is allegorical. Michael Hosea represents God's pursuing love for His people. Angel – who continually runs from Michael back to her former life – represents humanity.
Rivers said she hopes moviegoers walk out of the theater with God on their minds.
"I hope they think about God. I hope they think about Jesus," she told Christian Headlines. "I hope they walk out of there thinking, 'I wish I could have a love like that.' And they can because the whole thing is about Jesus. It's the allegory about His love for each of us."
Although the novel was initially released in 1991 in the mainstream market, Rivers released an updated version in 1997 that was more faith-centric and included more details about Angel's redemption. Multnomah published it.
"There were some things that I wanted to soften in the story," she wrote. "And there were also scenes I wanted to put in. So I was able to put in a conversion scene. The version that you see now on the market is what I call the redeemed version of Redeeming Love."
The story of Angel, Rivers said, is the story of every Christian – "constantly turning away, and He's always there wooing us, and He has the answers."
"We're all sinners. We start out as children of darkness, we don't know God," she said. "And we're rebellious. People talk about innocent babies, but babies are very selfish – they cry, and they scream when they don't get what they want. And we're like that. We go through a stage of defiance, where nobody's going to tell me how to live my life. You know – I'm in control of my life, I can do what I want. And that's battling against the Lord because he wants you to surrender yourself to Him fully.
"And then you go through a stage where you realize, when you get to know Jesus, He's not asking for bits and pieces of our life. [Instead,] He's asking for everything – everything in our past, everything of who we are. He wants us to surrender all. … And then humility is when you begin to open up, and you begin to care about others more than you care about yourself. And Angel comes to that point."
"But she also thinks she's got the right answer – and she doesn't, and God is using it. He's telling Michael, 'She has to make a choice.'... And so she has to go on her own quest. And then, of course, when she does find the Lord, it's joy in the morning. We have that joy that's gonna last forever."
Moviegoers who enjoy the film, Rivers said, should also read the book, which she says "tells the whole story."
"In the book, you're hearing God's voice," she said. "You're reading God speaking to Michael, and you're reading Satan speaking to Angel – and the spiritual battle that's going on inside their minds."
Redeeming Love is rated PG-13 for mature thematic content, sexual content, partial nudity, and strong violent content.
Photo courtesy: ©Pinnacle Peak, used with permission
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.