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Erica Galindo
Celebrating Food, Faith and Family
Last edited on: December 19, 2014.

Irreplaceable, Focus on the Family’s one night movie which champions the family in a starring role in God’s design, will be presented in more than 700 theaters nationwide on May 6th. This feature length documentary follows Tim Sisarich as he travels the world interviewing experts and real people about the most important building block of our culture—the family.

This movie comes at a time when many are redefining and questioning the validity of the family. There is a growing debate in this country about it. One side claims we can define and design marriage any way we choose. The media, a growing tide of public opinion, and public policy, are now leaning towards this position.

Tim Sisarich, the former Executive Director of Focus on the Family in New Zealand, is the narrator for Irreplaceable; Photo courtesy of FOTF

The other side holds to the marriage commitment as lifelong and designed by God. Jim Mhoon of Focus on the Family simplifies the importance of marriage for this side, “God reveals to us how we are designed and points out to us if we want to thrive, follow My design.”

Yet, the headlines are alarming:

  • In America, there is one divorce every 13 seconds
  • Half of all American children will witness the breakup of a parent’s marriage
  • Approximately one third of US children live without their fathers

We are now living in a day when some children grow up without seeing a real marriage. Many Christians have had their faith in traditional marriage shaken by their own parent’s failed marriages. Many couples including Christians have resorted to cohabitation and are clearly not seeing the personal benefit or importance of God’s design for marriage.

Family is truly irreplaceable.

Focus on the Family’s Family Project was created to address this situation in our day. Irreplaceable lifts up God’s design for the family and brings to the culture an aspirational view of why God’s design for the family is still the best design, and how people of faith can preserve family values.

The film examines why all humans have a yearning to be part of a family and looks at the forces that can contribute to the breakdown of a family. This special one night showing will include a panel discussion hosted by Focus on the Family President Jim Daley and featuring prominent faith leaders such as Tim Sisarich, Rebecca Lyons, Carey Casey, and Pastor Samuel Rodriquez.

The documentary also features interviews from experts including Professor of Law Helen Alvaré; National Center for Fathering CEO Carey Casey; speaker and radio host John Stonestreet; author Eric Metaxas; neuropsychologist Dr. Anne Moir; philosopher Dr. Roger Scruton; authors Gabe and Rebekah Lyons (co-author of UnChristian); Christian scholar Nancy Pearcey and others.

Jim Daly, the current President of Focus on the Family, has his own remarkable testimony of growing up as an orphan to being the head of this organization whose motto is to “Help Families Thrive.” Photo courtesy of FOTF

The Family Project curriculum provides a twelve-week video series with discussion questions that explore topics such as Belonging and Significance, Marriage and Sexuality, How Family Completes God’s Image, Mothers, Fathers, and Children as Image-Bearers, The Fall and Redemption, etc. Recognizing that families are comprised of people with faults, the series culminates with a session entitled “My Imperfect Family.”

Sonoma Contributor Ginny Dent Brant met with Jim Mhoon, Vice President of Content Development and Integration for Focus on the Family, at the National Religious Broadcaster’s Convention. Brant, who has worked on the front lines of our culture in education for 31 years and has her own concerns about the devaluing of the family, was eager to find out about this special movie event which may well be one of the most important documentaries of our day.

SCH : Your documentary is one of the first to acknowledge the role of the family in education and how family fragmentation is affecting test scores. Can you tell us more about this?

Jim Mhoon is the Vice President of Content Development and Integration at Focus on the Family. He oversaw the production of Irreplaceable; Photo courtesy of FOTF

JM : Dr. Carol Hoxby, formerly of Harvard University, states in her research that 96% of the variables that predict academic success have to do with the family background. If you want scores to come up, bring healing to the family. In my opinion, kids don’t need a perfect dad. They just need a decent dad. If you bring dads back into the home, you’ve eliminated over half of society’s problems and test scores will go up.

SCH : Barna Group’s research shows that Christians engage in adoption, foster care and other ways of aiding vulnerable children more than the norm. What advice can you give to these couples who are trying to be family to those who otherwise would not have one?

JM : I suggest they begin the discovery process of becoming a foster family. They can use our program called Wait No More which was written to eliminate the foster adoption waiting list so every child can have a forever home. You must build a collaboration of support around those families who feel led to take in a foster child as they can’t do it on their own. It’s not easy as these children often need time to heal and face many challenges along the way, but what they desperately need is a loving, supportive family.

The beauty of family is hard to come by – but definitely worth the struggle.

Christians can also help by being willing to mentor at-risk students. They must develop relationships with both the student and their homes. Tony Evan’s church in Dallas, Texas has its members working in 67 schools as mentors to raise academic success by boosting the family. They advocate for a program called “National Church Adopt a School Program.” These faith based, public sector programs show a lot of promise.

SCH : From working with this documentary, what are some of the most alarming statistics that you’ve found?

JM : The increasing fatherless rate across our country concerns me the most. We don’t have a motherless crisis in this country. We have a severe fatherless crisis. And we tend to see God the way we see our dads. If a child believes they have been abandoned by their father, how do they feel about God?

Irreplaceable explores the important role the church can play in building up the family; Photo courtesy of FOTF.

The statistics relating to crime, psychological health, economic and academic success all point to the inherent value of children having both their mother and father in the home and involved in their lives. Fatherhood is addressed in this documentary because it is a pivotal element of society. Kids with involved dads do much better than those without. We think kids deserve a mother and a father.

SCH : After the one night showing on May 6th at 7:30 p.m. local time, will churches be able to show this film in house?

JM : Yes, the movie will be available in the fall, and the small group video curriculum will be available for order on May 6. We hope thousands of local ministers will adopt the small group curriculum and share God’s design for families with their community.

Children are our legacy! They deserve whole homes and loving parents.

SCH : Marriage is becoming temporary or disposable in our country with high divorce rates and rising cohabitation rates. What do you say to the couple who decides to live together to try it out before they make a commitment?

JM : They must capture a bigger vision of marriage than that. A man commented to me recently that his wife was his soul mate. So I asked him, “Did you marry her because she is your soul mate, or is she your soul mate because you married her?” The Bible teaches us that she is his soul mate because he married her, not the other way around. Research shows that cohabiting couples are 65% more likely to divorce. So the idea they can try it out, does not pan out. They are operating out of God’s design which commands us to make a commitment and set our minds to keep that commitment.

According to Greg Smalley, marriage can be compared to survival on a deserted island. “To survive on an island (to survive in marriage), you must burn your ships (that idea that you can escape if things don’t go well).” Cohabiting couples do the opposite when they live together. They leave their ships so they can escape if things don’t go well, and they never really commit. They never give “the graft” of marriage which binds them together as one the time to heal.

Loving families help to develop a whole, open heart!

SCH : What do you think will happen if we do nothing and allow God’s greatest building block to continue to decline?

JM : Family is the bedrock of society and offers stability and permanence. Without it, our society will fail. A fire in a fireplace serves a purpose where it brings heat, light and cheer, but when you bring it out to the floor of the house, it can destroy everything. At one time, it was recognized that sex was meant to be reserved within the context of marriage for bonding. It’s now out in the floor of the house and creating chaos. We actually have people in our culture defending the ideology as good. Just look at our divorce rates, addiction to pornography, sexual abuse of children, etc. By disrespecting sex, we have disrespected marriage and its permanence. And all of this affects children and future generations. The best thing you can do for your children is to give them a great marriage.

SCH: Although our culture’s views on family have become more liberal, Focus on the Family, an organization that has always nurtured and defended God’s design for the family, is still hopeful our country can find its way back to God’s design for the family. They recommend those who value the family make May 6th into a community night, and post the trailer on social media accounts. Churches can get involved by spreading the word with resources available at Irreplaceable The Movie

Check out this one-night special release on the Christian Film Database

Looking for more entertainment news? Read Unforgettable Drama Starring Oscar Winner Ben Kingsley

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