An Egalitarian “War Room” Review


I will admit that I went into the movie theater with preconceived notions. This movie was created by complementarians who believe that God created men to be the leaders and have authority over women in the home, church, and in society. I could not help but notice that the female lead, whose movie name is Elizabeth Jordan (Priscilla C. Shirer) was a realtor. This type of job is considered appropriate for females within complementarian thought because Elizabeth Jordan could avoid giving a man direct orders in this career.

This may seem like a strange thing for me to notice and six months ago I would not have; but just a month or so ago leading complementarian, John Piper, publicly directed a woman not to pursue her dream of becoming a police officer because she would have to give men direct orders and have authority over men within this career. 

There is also a scene in which Elizabeth Jordan states that her husband is difficult to submit to. The moment was kept light and jokey, but the message was clear: Women are to submit to their mean, self-centered husbands who are on the verge of cheating no matter what. I could not disagree with this message more.

Submission is to be mutual between a husband and a wife as stated in Ephesians 5:21. If we are going to take Ephesians 5:21-33 literally, the passage places two demands on a husband and only one demand on a wife. Husbands are to submit to their wives and love their wives as Christ loved the Church. Wives are to submit to their husbands. Since the Bible clearly calls all Christians to love one another, certainly God calls wives to love their husbands as well. This leads us back to mutual and equal love and submission to one another in the marriage unit. 

While Elizabeth Jordan did need to humble herself if she was going to give her marriage a fighting chance, the message of one-way-submission is very dangerous. Thankfully, her husband was not abusive, but in many real life scenarios, Christian women are being encouraged to “submit” to their spouses no matter how they are being treated.

A few years ago I watched a sweet young woman fight for her marriage to a man who was verbally abusive towards her for about a decade. This woman of God no doubt prayed that God would change her husband’s heart, offered him years of grace, struggled with extreme anxiety, and ran out of options. There was no miracle for her.

She moved out of her husband’s home in hopes that he would change if she separated herself from him. He still refused. She wanted the marriage to work. She and all her family were praying that God would change his heart, but God did not. This young lady felt she had no other choice but to seek a divorce. She could not stay with a man who was tearing her down everyday and destroying her soul. Her pastor and her family advised her to seek a divorce. Divorce is hard on people and is certainly not the biblical ideal, but it is not the unpardonable sin and life moves on.

When it comes to divorce, God is as a father, not a judge. There is no doubt that God wants to redeem broken marriages and see His kids work it out, but it takes two willing hearts for this to happen, which is usually a miracle within itself.

As a female minister and one who has counseled with women, I would not advise a woman to stay with a verbally abusive man and “pray it out.” I would tell her to seek a separation, demand that he repent and seek help; and if he refused, I would tell her to file for a divorce. 

I believe in the power of prayer and that God really can save a marriage miraculously, but the message of one-way-submission puts women in a very vulnerable place. God is not a “genie in a bottle.” He does not always give us what we want or what we are praying for because He does not get in the way of free will. If a husband (or a wife) refuses to obey God’s command to submit and to love his wife (or husband), God does not force him (or her) to.

In the movie, God made Jordan Elizabeth’s husband sick right when he was about to cheat on her and he also gave him a supernatural dream to help him see the error of his ways. I believe God can and will intervene in these supernatural ways at times when we bring our relationships to Him in prayer, but this is not everyone’s story. There is no doubt that prayer is powerful, which this movie does display, but we must be careful not to lose touch with the way Jesus taught us to pray in Matthew 6:9-13.

Our Father in heaven,
    may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
    as it is in heaven.
 Give us today the food we need,
and forgive us our sins,
  as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation,
    but rescue us from the evil one.

Ultimately, Christians should pray for God’s Will to be done and that we would find peace in the midst of life’s storms. My favorite aspect of the movie was the side message that encouraged Christians to have so much faith in God, that they do not allow bad life circumstances to get them down.

The acting in this movie was so-so in my opinion, with the exception of “Miss Clara” (Karen Abercrombie). At one point Elizabeth Jordan and Miss Clara were approached by a man with a knife who demanded their cash. Miss Clara says “no” and rebukes the man in “Jesus name.” The man runs away. Although I would recommend that one just give the cash over to the bad man with a weapon in real life, I appreciated Miss Clara’s boldness and her ability to enjoy ice cream as she gave the police officers a statement. The point was that her faith made her unfazed by the hardships of life and I liked that. 

Overall the movie was not a bad movie and I could see many being blessed by it, but if I were you I would wait until it gets to Redbox to rent it and take the whole message with a grain of popcorn salt.

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  • Ha! I told you my complementarian views were soft! I tell my hubby what to do quite often but that’s another subject. I have to buffet John Piper because I can’t throw out everything he says since there are times he makes insightful views.

    I enjoyed the message of War Room. I enjoyed seeing African Americans in the lead and living more affluently than showing them mucking around in bad neighborhoods. The acting wasn’t great at all and I actually preferred ‘Courageous’ and ‘Fireproof’ to ‘War Room’ as I think the messages had a more universal approach to everyone where as ‘War Room’ was specifically meant for Christians as it was a visual sermon.

    Some of the negative comments about ‘War Room’ was that it portrayed the Lord as a ‘Genie Jesus’. Simply if you pray it through the Lord will answer the prayer for a fairy tale ending. However, I didn’t get that message at all. In the movie, yes I want a fairy tale ending but I perceived the message as to strengthen my prayer life. Ultimately God will answer it according to His will, not mine. Prayer is suppose to show our dependency on Him. Else, when Jesus taught the disciples to prayer, He would have taken out, ‘Thy will be done’ part.

    I did a show a while back with a woman who wrote a very short book entitled. “Sometimes God Shouts Freedom in Divorce” and her story mirrors the story you mentioned. She was with her husband for seventeen years I believe but he didn’t want to change. Now in her instance, her pastor refused to tell her to get a divorce but he and his wife stood by her and were very supportive of her. Ultimately the Lord released her and that was, in my opinion, because of an active prayer life. Another lady I know was with her man for a number of years and he wouldn’t stop cheating on her and the Lord released her. Which comes back to my point of active prayer life which is what I got from the movie.

    Thanks for sharing your insights.

  • Ephesians 5:21 states “one to another” not “one another”. The husband is commanded to Love as CHRIST and the wife commanded to submit to such in reverence.

    What do we tell the 680,000 more men than women that are assaulted each year by intimate partners or the 4.8 million more that are psychologically agressed against? How are we suppose to pay for the new jails for the 25,000 more females entering the system over the last few years? What do we tell all the abused children; 40% caused or allowed by the mother? What does your plan do to fix this?

    Maybe we will just follow Sound Doctrine and rebuke any individual ideologies that fail in such. Whatever this is being pushed hasn’t worked; look around. Maybe we should just go back to following HIS PLAN.

  • My heart broke watching this movie as it is not what jesus has taught us. Jesus is LOVE, And jesus is not man over woman. This film was insulting to any Christian or non Christian woman dealing with abuse. Jesus restored equality in all things.
    Horrible and horrific message to abused woman

  • I disagree that the husband was not abusive in this movie. He was verbally, emotionally/psychologically, and financially abusive. He controlled the money, he isolated her from her family and kept her from financially helping them, and he controlled the environment of their home with his anger.

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