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FIRST-PERSON: Finally, a film that shows the destructiveness of an affair

ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP) — “Tyler Perry is a moralist who doesn’t have sense enough to engage us by making sin look like fun,” is how one critic featured on the movie review Internet site “Rotten Tomatoes” sums up the film “Temptation: The Confessions of a Marriage Counselor” which is currently in theaters.

A brief synopsis of the movie on the “Temptation” website describes the film as, “A bold exploration of the intrigue and perils of infidelity.” As the critic points out, the movie does not portray marital unfaithfulness as innocent fun; rather it depicts it with all the negative emotional and physical consequences that are possible.

While the critic quoted in the first paragraph deems Perry’s effort as nothing more than trite moralizing, I find it encouraging that a mainstream filmmaker would be bold enough to portray marital infidelity for what it really is — life-altering and destructive.

In short, the movie is about a young woman who steps outside of what has become a stale marriage to experience what is initially an exciting fling. Eventually, negative consequences begin to multiply and the woman finds herself living with the constant regret of her selfish choices.

“Temptation” opens with a couple seeing a marriage counselor. Words are exchanged and the man storms out of the office. The wife remains and it is revealed she has met someone and is, at the very least, contemplating an affair.

The counselor begins to recount the story of her sister, Judith, to the woman. It is obvious as the story unfolds that “Judith” is the marriage counselor herself, and not a sister. Via flashback she details her marriage to a good and stable man and her unintended spiral into lust.

Judith’s story, as the movie title implies, is one of encountering temptation in the form of a rich, handsome, unattached man. At first she resists, but over time she not only gives in to sexual sin, but eventually gives herself over to life in his fast lane.

In the end, her seducer is nothing more than a loathsome womanizer. She winds up with an incurable sexually transmitted disease. Judith’s story does not end happily ever after with her marriage restored. Instead, she finds herself alone. The husband she betrayed remarries and enjoys a stable life.

Perry, who describes himself as a Christian, does not appear in the film but wrote and directed it. The 43-year-old actor, director, gospel singer, and screenwriter is best known for the funny female character Mabel “Madea” Simmons he created and portrays.

In a day where celebrity affairs are reported with too much regularity and the negative consequences of them are routinely ignored, a film like “Temptation” can serve to make people stop and realize that cheating on one’s spouse is anything but a harmless indiscretion.

The Bible is very realistic about the subject of adultery. A writer in the Book of Proverbs indicates that at first glance the act seems enticing. “Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant,” is how unfaithfulness appears to one contemplating infidelity.

Yes, an affair with that exciting someone looks and sounds so good. However, the very next verse says of the one being tempted, “But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol.” Another biblical proverb compares the person who commits adultery with someone who hugs fire or walks on hot coals. There is no way to avoid being burned. This same proverb goes on to say, “The one who commits adultery lacks sense; whoever does so destroys himself.”

Fans of Tyler Perry’s films are very likely to buy tickets to “Temptation” based on the moviemaker’s reputation. Those who do so will not be treated to a story that makes temptation look like fun. They instead will see a movie that depicts the temptation to be unfaithful as real and the consequences of infidelity as damaging and irreversible.

“Temptation” definitely is not a family-friendly film. But it is a stark warning to any would-be adulterer: The possible — even probable — negative consequences of unfaithfulness are simply not worth whatever fleeting pleasure an affair might provide.
“Temptation” is rated PG-13 for some violence, sexuality and drug content. Kelly Boggs is a weekly columnist for Baptist Press, director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s office of public affairs, and editor of the Baptist Message, www.baptistmessage.com, newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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  • Kelly Boggs