The Grand Opera House in Oshkosh, Wisconsin once fell on hard financial times and needed a means to keep its doors open. Lessors decided to show X-rated films. Thank goodness times have changed for the historic theatre. On Saturday, August 6, the Grand Opera House will open its doors to show a different kind of pornography film: The Heart of the Matter, a film documentary offering a compassionate response to Christians addicted to pornography and sex.
“The beautiful irony of a venue which used to profit from pornography now set to show a film about redemption from pornography perfectly illustrates God’s total restoration,” said Daniel Weiss, founder and president of The Brushfires Foundation, the Christian non-profit organization behind the Seeds of Fire Community Engagement documentary film.
I’m not one to support every out-of-the-box new ministry email that comes my way. But when Weiss’ subject line read “Midwest film festival proclaiming orthodox Christian sexual ethics,” well, I couldn’t help but reply.
“We are using documentary films to open discussion about topics that the church is often silent on or uncomfortable with,” Weiss wrote. “Following the films we feature local and national subject-matter experts to explore the messages in the films and take audience questions.”
The issue of pornography and its devastating impacts has certainly gained wider attention in our culture. From the pulpit to the blogosphere, we’re hearing more and more conversations about how porn harms people. But a serious Christian documentary film confronting the objectification and emotional and spiritual enslavement perpetuated by the porn industry is a fresh missional approach.
“This is also a new outreach venture for the Lutheran Church,” Weiss told me over the phone. “But I am especially pleased to see how many other churches have rallied to this project. We now have Baptist, Reformed, Catholic, and non-denominational churches working together to promote sexual and spiritual wholeness in this area.”
According to Weiss, primary funding for The Seeds of Fire Community Engagement comes from the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod’s “Stand With Your Community” grant. Over 500 applications were submitted to the grant program, Weiss said, and only 55 projects were awarded. Other funding for the film series project comes from local churches, sponsorships, and individual gifts.
The Heart of the Matter is the third installment in the Seeds of Fire film series. The first film addressed the breakdown of the family/fatherlessness while the second installment addressed same-sex attraction. Upcoming films this year will confront sex trafficking, the story of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell, and the blessings of adopting special needs children. In 2017, Weiss hopes the film series will also address transgenderism, third-party reproduction, and God’s design for marriage.
The Grand Opera House can seat up to 670 people, but staff members told Weiss they never fill up to capacity and never sell out of tickets. Passionately promoting the redemptive message of The Heart of the Matter, Weiss is undeterred, “My goal is that we are going to fill the theatre to capacity.”
**Please, please grab a tissue and watch The Heart of the Matter film trailer below: