Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Lure of Temptation

Last month I had the opportunity to watch Tyler Perry’s latest film entitled, “Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor”.  I hesitated on giving early commentary on the film mainly because I wanted to give late movie goers a chance to get out and see it.  I’ve always been one to greatly appreciate a film that forces me to think.  I walked away from this film stumped (in a good way), for a number of reasons.  I watched the film with my young adult daughters and it instantly sparked interaction.  I appreciate the way that Tyler Perry is always ready to delve head first into those societal issues that many of us would like to turn a blind eye to.  Temptation is a word that we can explore here for hours on end.  It’s that distracted place that a person in a committed relationship allows themselves to go. It’s definitely not a realm support by our Higher Power.  Temptation can be the onset of complete and total destruction.  Distractions within a relationship are born from many things.  The relationship may have fizzled out due to the high demands of life.  It may be the need for one person in the relationship to fill a void and in doing so they choose a negative way to act that out. Some partners feel as if constant communication is too much of a task and they shy away from it.  Isolation is the complete opposite of oneness in a relationship.  It’s oneness that a couple needs to move forward collectively.  Couples can argue over the silliest of things.  Because we’re all created differently and clearly raised differently, we all have different ways of communicating and dealing with conflict.  Some of us our confrontational while others run from conflict at all costs and in turn sweep things under the rug.  The door that leads to temptation opens the minute that we stop talking.  When we stop talking, we stop communicating.  This works the same way in regard to our relationship with God.  The Bible makes numerous mentions surrounding temptation. Any Christian practicing a faithful walk with God knows that there is a daily deliverance that we need in order to stay away from it.  In Matthew 6:13, the Bible says, “And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one”.

In Perry’s film, he builds upon a concept that I too have always believed in.  Experts in any area gain their expertise through the practice of real life experiences.  People who have applied-knowledge tend to excel and at times even have an advantage over those that have only had the opportunity to study the practiced material in textbooks.  This idea is seen in the film with Jurnee Smollet’s character, “Judith”.  Judith is a marriage counselor in the film and ultimately she gets a little too close to one of her company’s clients.  She’s eager to jumpstart her career with the wealth of knowledge that she accumulated obtaining her Master’s Degree in Counseling.  As a Christian woman that is herself married in the film, she feels highly prepared to open her own practice and to give the world her all.  The adversity she constantly faces in the film is coming to terms with the reality of her simple life.  The young couple are in their mid-twenties she and her husband Brice played by Lance Gross, are just barely making ends meet. Her headstrong, moralistic stance is strong early in the film as she refuses to adhere to the modern chic/sexy dress code of the matchmaking office she’s employed at.  We have a woman with a vision fresh out of graduate school who wants to counsel couples and help them to stay married.  Sounds simple enough right? Hmmmm, the plot is well set because we see that Judith is feeling underappreciated by her young husband.  He’s early in his career as a pharmacist and in many ways he’s just trying to establish himself as a man.  We can feel the genuine love he has for his wife who was also his childhood sweetheart.  Brice can’t afford fancy nights out for his wife, he forgets her birthday and he has this innocent way of diminishing her dreams without meaning to do so. The story takes a dark turn when Judith is given an assignment at the office that forces her to work very closely with “Harley”, played by Robbie Jones a very famous, young billionaire entrepreneur in the film.

Harley is overly charming and extremely vocal in expressing how much he admires a woman of Judith’s caliber.  He plays up the victim role in his past relationship which he claims as being the reason why he’s still single.  Harley in essence is the boyfriend that every woman wants. He’s attentive, encouraging and supportive of future endeavors.  He makes being in a relationship what it should; an exercised team effort. Their forbidden romance spirals out of control quickly.  Like many that fall into the lure and then later the trap of temptation, things get rather messy. Harley goes from charming and having sincere admiration to an aggressive pursuer whose only mission is to remind Judith of what her husband doesn’t do for her. The biblical theme of Adam and Eve began running through my mind; as I closed my eyes still hopeful that Judith would stay strong.  Poor, poor Judith, she gives in to all of her tempter’s whispers for control and she soon finds out that he isn’t who he originally presented to be. Brice begins to catch wind of the affair as does Judith’s mother who is a Christian pastor in the film (played by Ella Joyce).  We watch in awe as Judith begins to lose herself. She changes her style of dress, the way she wears her hair, begins abusing alcohol and cocaine and as if most disheartening she begins sleeping with Harley.  There’s this underlying theme of, “Is the grass really greener on the other side”, we soon see that clearly that it isn’t.  Perry shows us that it’s a small world and many things really do come to light full circle.  Brice happens to be working with a new staff member at the pharmacy that’s on the run from her abusive boyfriend that recently infected her with HIV.  Do I need to say anymore?

Judith ultimately becomes a seasoned marriage counselor because she can now relate to some of the real issues that married folks struggle with.  By the films end, she is somewhat crippled after a monstrosity of a beating inflicted by Harley.  She is HIV positive and she is very divorced from Brice who remarries and has a child with his new wife. Brice does not contract the virus. This is the unfortunate reality of how destructive the path of temptation is.  The shocking blow of Harley, Judith, and Brandy’s character all having HIV is a very hard pill to swallow, while still indulging in buttered movie popcorn. The twist nearly blew me away! I love that Perry made the consequences so extreme.  We live in a risk taking world that I constantly see downplaying the harsh reality of real consequences.  God’s love and protection can be absent when our obedience to him is equally as absent.  People are constantly targeting what they want, exercising their power to obtain their target, and in return they are ending up with a heap of things that they don’t want including STI’s and lots of unnecessary drama. Married couples are falling victim to distraction and in some cases even boredom.  The numbers of new HIV cases in New York City alone is shocking; in Brooklyn, New York they’re astronomical. With rates so high, I guarantee you that each and every one of us knows a person living with the virus; whether or not they’ve disclosed their status to us or not.  Stay safe, stay protected and if you are in a marriage please don’t ever stop communicating with your spouse.  The minute the talking stops, the connection stops, and temptation might just be lurking around every corner. God Bless you all.

Much Luv,

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  1. B.C., this is such a well written article. The topic is one that cannot be stressed enough. I have not seen the movie Temptation, but from what I hear, Tyler Perry definitely cuts to the core of this common social issue of the "grass being greener" by unveiling the domino effect and the ultimate tragic and mortal consequences that can be brought on by succumbing to temptation. Life is one huge obstacle course. Temptation is certainly one of those obstacles that we come face to face with frequently and will rear it's ugly head anywhere from relationships to addictions. The idea of "the grass being greener" is almost always a mirage.

  2. Thank you so much for commenting Spoonsfedsoul. I completely agree with you! The idea of, "The Grass being Greener", is such a mirage. Strength, should be a prerequisite for marriage. Ultimately, I feel like if we can bring more awareness to the lure of temptation, folks might think twice about it. Often times, we underestimate how weak we are if left to deal with our own sinful nature. We are so weak and there is always some overly observant creep lurking around the next corner to slide their way into our mix! If we supported one another just a little bit more and if we respected the institute of marriage more we'd be so much further ahead of ourselves.

    I keep waiting on the world to change :-) Thanks again.

    Much Luv