I realize I will anger some people with this post, but it’s been burning inside my head ever since I read the novel by Francine Rivers when I was fifteen, and now that the movie is a “thing,” I want to talk about it. Because it needs talked about. Both its toxicity and its double standards.
In my opinion, Redeeming Love is “Christian Porn” masquerading as an allegory, and it has all of the toxic religious tropes that show up in a lot of Christian fiction, plus a few more. I could talk about how there’s sensuality on every page, written by a previous erotica author who knows how a woman thinks and how to ‘arouse’ her in certain ways to feel certain things (since this is Christian fiction, that’s okay!). This book was so saturated in sexual themes that I hid it from my mother, afraid she might ask to read it when I was done, and then she’d know I read a “dirty book.” But… let’s talk about the problematic subtext.
Let’s start off with the BIG one, and frankly, the one I find the most repugnant:
“Redeeming Love is an allegory of God’s love for us, with God symbolically representing the male protagonist, while the female protagonist represents the human race.”
That’s the summary. Now, what is the book of Hosea about?
“God ordered Hosea to marry an adulterous wife, Gomer. Their children are told to drive the unfaithful mother out of the house; but it was her reform, not her riddance, that was sought. The prophet was ordered to continue loving her, and he took her back and kept her in isolation for a while. The affair graphically represents the Lord’s relation to the Israelites, who had been disloyal to him by worshiping Canaanite deities as the source of their abundance. Israel was to go through a period of exile. But the Lord still loved his covenant people and longed to take them back, just as Hosea took back Gomer.”
In the book, the God character is named Michael. He goes in search of a wife, and God tells him to marry “Angel,” a prostitute. Instead of paying for sex, he pays for an hour of her time and tells her “God told me to marry you.” She thinks he is insane, but he persists in repeating this message. After Angel is almost beaten to death by a customer, Michael asks her to marry him and she consents… as much as a woman can who is half dead and barely conscious. (In other words, she did not consent. She was not of sound mind.) So they live together, and Angel keeps running off. Why? She didn’t want to marry Michael and doesn’t love him. He chases her down and brings her back, again and again, to his cabin where they live. Alone. Where sometimes they have sex, even though she doesn’t love him… yet.
In another book, this would be the horror story of a woman abducted and forced into marriage by an insane rapist who insists she has to stay there because God said so. Take out the allegory and what is it? A guy who tells a girl who isn’t interested in him that God told him she belongs to him, who takes advantage of her after she’s been beaten up, marries her under dubious consent conditions, prevents her from running away when she doesn’t want to live with him, and sleeps with her because he wants her to have a good view of meaningful sex.
If you just said, “What the actual hell?” … yeah. This is the book my pastor’s wife recommended I read and that has 5 stars on Goodreads, because in the 90s we knew nothing about consent and it showed.
I hate the idea of equating Michael with God, because I don’t think God is toxic or a metaphorical rapist. I expect that behavior from Zeus, not God, because it’s not free will if you have no choice, and there is a distinct lack of free will in this story. Angel has no choice, she has to stay with Michael and give in to him, body and soul. Then there’s the larger issue of toxic masculinity, otherwise known as a man’s controlling behavior toward a woman. I hate to use that term, because I happen to like and respect men, but it’s appropriate in this story. “God told me you are mine” is possession, not love. A guy telling a girl “God told me you are mine” is not okay. Stalking her is not okay. Repeatedly visiting her when she asks you not to, is not okay. Not letting her leave when she doesn’t want you is not okay. It’s not romantic to be stalked and have a man not take no for an answer. It’s scary, especially when he claims it’s God’s plan for your life.
Here are a few things that I believe about godly relationships:
- No woman belongs to a man, and should not be controlled by him or told what to do.
- No means no inside and outside of marriage, in bed or outside of it.
- If you don’t want to be married anymore, you can leave without being a “bad Christian.” Divorce isn’t ideal but is sometimes necessary and appropriate response to a bad situation.
- If God intends for you to marry each other, you both get the message. It’s never a case of “God told me this, but didn’t tell you, so now I need to talk you into it.” If it’s God’s will, it’s no secret. Everyone will know. When one person is saying it, who is to say it is God? Humans are really good at doing what they want and saying that’s what God told them to do.
Adapting Hosea is problematic in the first place. That book was written in a time where women were property. Owned. Traded for a goat. Not allowed to say no. Its author saw God in the way all ancient people did, which was a God of Ownership and Boundary Issues. “You are mine, even if you don’t like it. I’m not taking no for an answer.” You see this theme repeated in many Old Testament books, including Jonah (do what I say or spend a week in a whale’s stomach), but when you contrast that to Jesus in the New Testament, you see that was the ancient people’s view of God (much like the pagans around them at the time), not how Jesus sees Him: “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” Jesus never forced anyone to follow Him. He asked. If they said no, He left them alone.
A TRULY godly man would have left Angel alone when she said no.
I know so many female readers who idolize Michael, and I don’t understand why, because he’s not a good man. The author wants him to be godly, but how can he be if he does not respect Angel’s person-hood? He blames her for her own rape after his brother forces her to pay him with sex (“What did you do to make him want you?”)! And then later, he wants a girl she rescues from a brothel to marry his brother, the rapist. No. Just no. I won’t forgive that. Ever.
This book bothers me in the same way Twilight did. It makes it seem romantic to be stalked, possessed, and controlled. In Twilight, Edward removes Bella’s engine from her truck so she can’t spend time with a boy he doesn’t like (Jacob). In real life, this is part of the isolation tactic that controlling men use to separate women from their friends and anyone who might consider their behavior “toxic.” It is painted as romantic, not problematic, and millions of women swooned over it.
Just like they swoon over Michael chasing Angel again and again and again.
Women are emotional creatures, most of whom want love and to feel desired. The idea of being pursued is exciting; the idea someone could want only us, that we could make them tremble with desire, is an erotic fantasy that arouses our imaginations. Being sexually desired but not touched is a Christian fantasy, in particular. It’s all about longing and the fulfillment of that on the wedding night. Premarital sex isn’t allowed, but that doesn’t mean the boy can’t want us. And an arranged marriage in a book allows us to read about their hot sex, without it being “dirty,” while the two of them are falling in love.
There is a double standard in Christian fiction: being aroused by two characters is okay, as long as they are married. Most books manage to avoid being explicit, but Redeeming Love is extremely erotic. It is not graphic, but it doesn’t need to be, because its author wrote erotic fiction throughout her early career and knows what turns a woman on, emotionally. Either we are called to have pure thoughts or not. And while it’s more Biblical to strive for pure thoughts, human beings are extremely sexual creatures and are drawn to things that arouse them. I’m not here to judge whether it’s a sin to enjoy a sex scene, but to say it’s wrong to romanticize toxic masculinity under the banner of “but they are married, so it’s fine.”
I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I heard it’s the first “Christian” movie to have long sex scenes.
But it’s okay, right? Cuz they’re married?
I was wondering about this one, Never read the book, when I did read a lot of Christain fiction I avoided the romance section, but I did get recommended this one, and luckily never read it,
This sounds like it would make me incredibly angry.
Ugh also highlights a lot of problems I have with the genre.
I feel bad dismissing Christian romance fiction on the whole, since I haven’t read any of it for twenty years, but growing up in the 90s and reading it then, it was all pretty CRINGE.
Wow Okay up until this point I NEVER SAW THIS. My main issue with the book years ago when I read it has been when Angel runs away in the middle of the book and Paul assaults her basically as she has no money, and needs to run away so he abuses her if you know what I mean, and this is never brought up again in the book from what I can remember.
THIS IS NEVER ADDRESSED AFTER THAT SCENE. Sorry to use all caps, just trying to make a point. I’m not shouting. 😉
I remember hating Paul and then he marries Miriam or whoever her best friend was in the book and NEVER READING IT AGAIN. That once scene just bothered me so much. HOWEVERRR you bring up some good points that I have never considered.
The reason I love reading Romance Christian Fiction generally is for the same reason I love watching Hallmark movies (they’re fun, lighthearted and not dark). When you work a 9-5, you want something fun and lighthearted to relax to.
I do read deeper books about history, theology and philosophy, and other non-fiction that I find fascinating, but generally I save that for the weekends or vacations when I have more time to think about things.
I think they did another version of Hosea and Gomer but with Sean Astin called Amazing Love. That was done better than Redeeming Love. I think it’s kind of tricky doing movies on the Old Testament.
A lot of it is based on ancient cultures, beliefs, rules, practices, that is hard for someone who was born in the Western Modern World to understand. I have had my own struggles with the OT and understanding the God of the OT.
However I also have had struggles with the things Jesus has said. I mean he says people will end up in hell if they don’t repent, that could be seen as being just as pushy as the OT God, a lot of atheists/agnostics see that as there being no alternative and God forcing himself on people.
I do struggle with the hell issue, God’s holiness standards, etc. And I do my best to educate about theology, apologetics, philosophy but those can be deep rabbit holes where you have endless questions about God and Jesus.
So my main thing is I don’t have all the answers and my questions are numerous, but I am going to continue with my faith and seeking God, because doubt isn’t always bad, like that man in the Bible said “help my unbelief” and my feelings aren’t always there, I will admit.
And sometimes I have no idea why I continue to have faith in God, but I guess at the end of the day, I want to believe that God loves me and I don’t really want to let him go. Wow I really went on a tangent here, lol.
Whatever upsets us in a book stands out to us, and eclipses all else in our memories; for me, it was Michael’s controlling behaviors (which offends me, because it seems like it’s misrepresenting God, and I don’t like that), and for you it was Paul. I do remember that scene – he helps Angel escape, but demands she pay him with sex for his kindness, and then Michael blames her later for it (what did she do to tempt him in that way, if I remember right) and does not hold his brother responsible for it, shun him, speak to him about it, or push him out of his life, which also strikes me as wrong and forgiving of sexual abuse. You can forgive a rapist, but that does not mean you welcome them back into your family, or encourage them to marry a sweet young girl you have rescued from sexual abuse, because Paul has not proven himself a good man; quite the opposite. He’s proven how he regards women (for sex, for his own gratification), which shows the deep flaws in his moral character. It was absolutely not right for the book not to address this in a meaningful way, since in a sense, it infers that he did not sin, since there were no consequences.
I think there is a good place for Christian romance, just as there is a market for a sweet Hallmark film. They are not to my taste most of the time, but I don’t begrudge anyone who takes sweet comfort in them.
I have heard good things about “Amazing Love.” I may have to track it down!
Jesus could be quite forceful in his opinions, but being opinionated is not the same as stalking someone and forcing them to surrender to your will. I see God as a loving parent, who lets us make our own poor choices, but is ready to pick up the pieces, not someone who routinely punishes us or places us under house arrest for things that are of no surprise to Him – if He is all knowing, He knew the choice we would make in the first place. Beyond that, I don’t think anyone has the entire truth about God. We can’t. He is beyond our comprehension. What I do believe about God is that He is just and good, and I can trust him to be just and good.
Aww thank you Charity for your response. I do like your perspective. ^_^
Aww thank you for your response Charity, I do appreciate your perspective. ^_^
I remember trying to read this as a young adult, oh, maybe 17? I was appalled first off by how dominating Michael was within the first scenes together and thought, “Nope, I’m not wasting my time.” I can’t recall because it was so long ago, how far I even read into the book. I don’t recall Angel being raped repeatedly, but I already had put it down because of a very problematic Michael.
I also didn’t feel drawn to the prose. It was difficult for me to connect to the characters and you calling Michael out as a stalker-ish kind of man, thank you! I will never understand how this is praised. I love all kinds of romance and I’m a cheesy tropey kind of person, I live for them. This wasn’t tropey, it was scary how accurate it feels with most Inspirational fiction. Which is why I began to read more secular fiction. That isn’t to say there isn’t plenty of toxic and problematic men and relationships in secular fiction, with the wonderful comparison with Twilight.
I can’t give this post enough love. Thank you for writing it!
Can you imagine how creepy it would be if a total stranger walked up to you, informed you that God had decided you were to be his wife, and then wouldn’t take no for an answer? 😛 I don’t care if it’s an “allegory,” that is creepy.
It does concern me, how many toxic male figures are in Christian chick lit, and who are sold as ‘godly men’ — it makes you wonder about the mindset behind them, and what is driving it.
Thanks for stopping in and commenting! 🙂
I found this post in a group I’m in on Facebook because someone shared it and thought the title was intriguing.
I think you raise some interesting points in this article that are generally overlooked because she’s a very well known christian writer. I think redeeming love can be shown, but in a way that doesn’t highlight some of the toxic traits that you bring up. I’ve personally been annoyed by these simplistic and toxic romantic themes (ex: “guy consistently beats up girl but girl stays because she’s a devoted Christian wife”- nah, you need to establish safety boundaries up to and including divorce lol)
I think she could have written the same story, but with way less of a constant emphasis on sexual themes. She could have written of an arranged marriage in which the wife gets bored, runs off, has an affair, then comes home begging forgiveness, then does it again and again… having the husband struggle with feelings of anger toward her, but forgiving her and giving her a home each time, until she finally learns contentment and wholeness as a believer. It didn’t need whores, brothels, child prostitutes, pedophiles, or creepy “you belong to me” possessive attitudes.
IMO, Christian romance novels are just cleaned up romance novels in general; they very rarely are deep. Some of them are harmless (like Janette Oak), but others are just “slightly cleaned up” lust-attraction where the woman sees the man’s muscles rippling under his shirt and can think of nothing but being kissed by him. LOL
A friend shared this with me because she knows I agree with you. I don’t understand how women are okay with this entire story, let alone how they equate it to God.
I think it’s because they haven’t thought through the implications of the story, or they erase the unease around it by claiming it’s an allegory.
This. THIS THIS THIS.
You already know my thoughts on RL, based on my rather ranty Goodreads review. 😉 So you know I agree with you. Even taking Michael’s creepy toxicness out of the equation, the whole Paul thing is absolutely horrific–I don’t understand how people were/are okay with that! *bangs head against desk*
Anyway, thank you for writing this post. What you said about RL *needs* to be said, especially since I know that so many women will go to see the film, knowing nothing about it except that it’s ‘Christian’. And they’ll be in for a rude awakening, which is just sad.
I saw the trailer on YouTube for the movie, went HUH???, and then went to Goodreads to read reviews, and that’s how I noticed yours! Thanks for that, you reminded me of some of the details I had forgotten, although others are still imprinted in my mind 20+ years later. 😛
I suspect they may have changed some elements for the screen in light of MeToo, but you never know. It just surprises me how many women love and defend this story (and excuse it because “it’s an allegory!”) and/or say it was a wonderful book. I hate to be cynical, but maybe they thought it was wonderful because it titillated them?
I saw one article about the movie in which the writer said her husband struggled with pornography for many years, so they will not be seeing this film as a couple, because it could lead him down the wrong path. And that’s a fair point — is it creating a stumbling block?
A quick check of Wikipedia’s plot summary for the movie shows that they still include the Paul/forced sex scene. And then it looks like he’s the one to convince Sarah to return to Michael after she runs away for the third time (after three years, no less!). *vomits*
Yep, I could definitely see the book/film being a stumbling block for someone who has struggled (or is struggling) with porn. It’s just not a worthwhile story in any way.
I think the same story could have been told in a more tasteful and appropriate way (the allegory) — but the author chose to make it a sex-focused story (prostitution, child-abuse, etc).
I really need to see the movie before passing judgment on it, but book-wise, what Michael should have done is beat the crap out of his brother and not speak to him ever again (unless he repented of it), for violating his wife, and then certainly not wanted one of Angel’s rescue girls to marry him. 😛
This is the only Christian book I ever read where I felt dirty and guilty for reading it.
Yep, that’s exactly what Michael should have done. The fact that the whole thing was swept under the rug still blows my mind.
How I love this post, let me count the ways! Once upon a time, I did love this book, believing it to be reflective of God, the Bible, the book of Hosea, etc. Then when I tried to explain the plot to my sister, she was like, “He forces her into a marriage and abducts her! She has no choice!” What should have been obvious to me went unnoticed. The more I thought about it, the more I realized most of Christian fiction is riddled with lack of consent, abuse, rape, toxic masculinity, etc. I don’t mind Christian fiction or Christian movies tackling the tough issues, but from what I understand, Rivers did zero research on human trafficking, rape, pedophilia, and prostitution when she wrote this book. And it shows. I’ll get off my little soap box now, but just want to say thanks for posting this and if you end up reviewing the movie, I’ll be curious about your thoughts on it.
I think sometimes (this is certainly true of me) we don’t notice something until we are telling someone else about it — and not being swept up in the emotions of it, and just having them react to the basic idea of it can make you go: “… you’re right, this doesn’t sound all that good.” I used to review movies a lot for content (still do, off and on) and… being forced to keep track of potentially offensive material really makes you notice it more. 😛
YES to all of the above with Christian fiction — and I don’t know WHY it happens. I was just talking to a friend about how in a lot of Christian fiction (some of it also by Francine Rivers) the male lead is a potential rapist, or a stalker, or has rapey intentions toward the heroine, but is just painted as lost, not evil.
Basically, a lot of those tropes come from the ownership of women prevalent in older cultures — which makes me wonder, has Christian fiction somehow NOT PROGRESSED beyond it? Like, society and the culture have moved beyond these things, but the “fantasies” Christian writers still spin for female readers are all based in ownership and submission.
To be honest, I think she just chose Angel’s background for shock/content purposes, which is pretty cynical of me. 😛
I probably will watch and review it once it comes to streaming, since I can’t be bothered to see it in theaters.
“because in the 90s we knew nothing about consent and it showed” <<< the SICKEST burn. AMAZING. *slow clap*
In all seriousness, thank you for this post. You've summed up some of my deepest issues with Christian romance novels. Too often, they are thinly veiled stories of power and possession masquerading as True Love. In particular, I can't stand the idea that the male partner somehow represents God while the woman represents humanity. Hello, that's an enormous power imbalance right there??? As if men are automatically closer to Jesus??? I don't frickin' think so, buddy.
Toxic masculinity is an absolutely appropriate phrase here. As you say, this is a toxic ideal of patriarchal male behavior (control by force). Men don't HAVE to act that way, but many societies throughout history have told them they should. And Christian fiction is one of the many culprits perpetuating these harmful ideals.
And can we just… take a moment… to appreciate the fact… that Rivers' notion of "meaningful sex"… is actually rape? Here’s an idea, Michael: if you want Angel to appreciate sex as God created it to be, DON’T YOU THINK BASIC CONSENT WOULD BE A GOOD PLACE TO START???
It was even worse in the 80s. If you go back and re-watch some super popular, classic movies from the 80s, there was a total lack of consent and a great deal of “stalking is romantic” behavior glamorized that I think leaked over into fiction, both Christian and non. The idea of being pursued, chased, and eventually “seduced by godliness.” Ew. LOL
You’re not wrong about the tone of Christian romance novels; they substitute a bad boy dominating a woman (“erotic”) with a “godly man,” to play into a lot of women’s secret desire to be submissive, or their fantasies about being “taken.”
In fairness, this is a trope I have used myself (a forced marriage as an example), but I always, ALWAYS, gave the woman agency, even when it seemed like she had no choice in whatever was going on. (It was her idea, and SHE went to her husband, not the other way around.)
I don’t like to pick on Christians, because I am one and by no means are all men like this, but I have indeed seen some awful, condescending, controlling men walking around under the banner of religion, which they insist gives them the right to dominate the women in their family. And I think some of that has seeped into Christian fiction, where some toxic masculinity issues thrive (I imagine, more so in 80s/90s novels than now, but I don’t read Christian fiction anymore, so I wouldn’t know). People take certain passages in scripture literally and translate that into wholly submissive behavior, which is very different from mutual scriptural submission to each other, and treating one another as equals within a marriage. A lot of early Christian books of the 90s were trying to teach scriptural godly womanhood to women, to train them for what to expect and want within a marriage (find a good man and surrender) but … real life is messier than that and harder than that, and it set them up for a lot of disappointment. I think some of the attitudes espoused by it, as well, are harmful (like waiting for sex is super important, because then your sex is going to be AMAZING — but what if it isn’t? what if it’s messy and painful and boring and you don’t want it?).
I like the idea of women being virtuous, because it kind of plays into the Virgin Mary themes you see throughout the middle ages, but not anything that seriously suggests that men have a closer connection to God (or women, for that matter).
She kind of consented because they are married and she’s willing, but then she wasn’t willing to marry him in the first place, and only did it to get out of a lousy situation — and then tried to leave. But there’s something creepy about him demanding she use his name during sex, because he doesn’t want her to treat him like one of her clients. 😛
All in all, a much better interpretation of Hosea would have been the more Biblical one — which is scholars think his wife chose to become an adulteress after they had been married for a while, and he kept forgiving her, over and over. That is a far different story than taking a prostitute who was raped from childhood and having yet another man take control over her life.
Mmhhhmmmm. Honestly, that’s a big reason why I don’t watch a lot of older movies or TV shows. Because I know their idea of romance is often what I would consider toxic and non-consensual.
I have no problem picking on Christians, as you well know xD xD But yeah, huge swaths of conservative Christian culture, especially as it intersects with purity culture, is full of toxic, harmful ideals about men and women and sex and gender. The whole nine yards. And I’m deeply sick of it.
The Virgin Mary is an enormously central part of my faith as a Catholic; however, I was always taught (and this may be a more modern interpretation), but I was always taught that Mary was a model for ALL Christians, regardless of gender. Both men and women should aspire to Mary’s purity and faithfulness. Both men and women have the capacity to imitate her virtues.
If she can’t give informed consent to the marriage in the first place, can’t leave, tries to leave and is FORCIBLY BROUGHT BACK and pushed to submit to sex again… yeah, that’s marital rape, my dudes.
Yeah! That’s the thing with ancient Jewish texts; they’re ambiguous and open to multiple interpretations. The “true” story of Hosea and Gomer may well be a much healthier one. But the story Rivers came up with isn’t healthy or Christian at ALL.
I think anything not set in the 70s/80s is all right, but old movies aren’t your thing anyway.
I just don’t read a lot of fiction these days in general that isn’t YA or classic literature, so I don’t know if the new chick lit is any improvement on the old stuff. I used to enjoy Lori Wick when I was about fifteen, but I would probably find it a bit dull now.
I think everyone should aspire to follow Jesus and live what he taught us to live, which means living a life of virtue as best we can.
Yes… in a nutshell, that’s what’s wrong with this book. The lack of consent, and it being romanticized rather than seen as problematic, and then taking it one step further and making it spiritual — as if the idea of God having sex with his Church isn’t disgusting enough. 😉
Well, I quit reading Christian fiction romance, even the stuff published recently, because it invariably made me SUPER mad. So, no, it’s not much better xD
*gags* Disgusting, indeed!
The last Christian fiction novel I read had Martin Luther as the main character, and they completely romanticized him. Plus, the author went on and on about how his wife felt a constant heat in her belly for him, and I was like “… I get the religious speak, but the heat ain’t in her belly. This is stupid.” xD
It is. It is stupid xD
You’re the second person whose opinion I trust who has said exactly this about this book, and… nothing I have read about it would make me want to read it, except maybe it’s kind of set in the Old West, so I guess if I had stumbled on it before reading some opinions on it, I might have picked it up? Except I read very little Christian western fiction because it’s usually terribly cheesy? So I have to be in the right mood for cheesy romance? And I don’t know why I’m ending everything with question marks? I think maybe your reference to the ’90s has triggered my inner Valley Girl?
Anyway. Good for you for being a discerning reader, and letting others know this is a problematic book. ::claps::
I’m glad to know other people hated it, because there’s about a million five star gushing reviews about this everywhere I turn (Amazon, Goodreads, etc), and nobody is talking about how toxic Michael is, how offensive the allegory is (it’s not romantic to picture God as a stalker), or how much SEX is in this book. I didn’t even address the fact that Angel was a child prostitute, that the villain is a pedophile, and it’s very clear what’s going on with kids at one point. The entire thing is just so disturbing on so many levels, I don’t know how Francine got a Christian publisher to accept it.
Most Christian romance novels are cheesy and terrible in general (which is why I quit reading them at about sixteen years old and started reading the classics, heh), but this is one of the few where I had to check a few times to make sure I wasn’t reading a secular book.
THANK YOU A THOUSAND TIMES FOR THIS. Someone loaned the book to me when I was in my early 20’s; I brought it home, flipped through it, and restrained myself from throwing it across the room only because it wasn’t mine to toss and destroy. I returned it ASAP. Fast forward about 5 or 6 years: the movie came out, everyone was raving about it…and I was honestly starting to wonder if maybe I’d just been a sheltered little homeschool girl who got overly sensitive about this whole thing. But you’re the THIRD person so far who’s confirmed for me that NO, I wasn’t overly-sensitive, this actually is a pornographic novel/movie, and I did the right thing by getting that book as far away from me as I could. Thank you again for speaking so bluntly about it!
I have often thought about this book over the years and wondered if I was too harsh on it, but… I have the feeling if I picked it up today I would have the exact same reaction to it. And when I saw the trailer for the movie, I was like, “… I am guessing this won’t be PG?” NOPE.
I was also sheltered, but I think it gave me a certain level of discernment — I wasn’t even allowed to watch PG13 movies until my mid-teens, and I have no regrets about that. 😛