(Photo: The Christian Post)
LANSDOWNE, Va. – "Loving the Bad Man" may make some Christians uncomfortable as it forces them to reexamine whether they are truly Christ followers, or just all talk.
Would you really forgive your rapist? And would you really keep the baby conceived through rape?
Those are just some of the questions the upcoming film is presenting.
It's "calling people to really look at who they are in Christ," said actor Stephen Baldwin at the latest screening.
"Loving the Bad Man," a project of Stone Bridge Films and Eastlake Films, has so far been screened in front of over 5,000 people. The movie was most recently hosted by Prison Fellowship in Lansdowne, Va.
During a panel discussion on Wednesday, Baldwin, who plays McQuade, the nefarious leader of the Skinheads, said the film is not evangelistic by nature. But he suggested that it's meant to convict those who call themselves Christians.
"It's a film that ... is not fooling around. We are living in a time where if you're fooling around with your faith, you're going to be held accountable," said the actor, who became a Christian about a decade ago.
The film follows Julie Thompson (Christine Kelly), a 23-year-old woman who seems to be the odd one out in her family as a conservative Christian. Her father is the ever skeptic, her younger brother is a DJ who often pokes fun at her devout Christian life, and her mother appears to be a Christian but less devoted.
Thompson, a virgin, is raped by Mike Connor (Arturo Fernandez), who has a criminal history, and becomes pregnant with his baby. The events prove to be a test for Thompson's faith as well as her family's – at least her mother's.
The film does not depict the actual struggle Thompson goes through to arrive at the conclusion to forgive her rapist, who is now in jail. But it illustrates how she chooses not to abandon her beliefs and actually practice the biblical command to love her enemy and forgive those who sin against her as God has forgiven her.
Not once does Thompson compromise her faith, though the same cannot be said of her mother.
"God would understand" is all the mother (played by Kim Ostrenko) could say to her as she suggests that her daughter abort the baby.
Thompson's family is equally appalled to find out that she was visiting Connor in prison with her son.
"It’s easy to say you forgive someone," Thompson says in the film. "I’ve been forgiven, I need to forgive.
"I don’t want to help people because it makes me feel good about myself."
Tom Conigliaro, executive producer of the film and whose day job is managing director at Goldman Sachs, stressed that the movie is not about the rape, but more about what happens next.
When he received the script from Director Peter Engert, he said he felt confident that the message of "forgiveness and redemption under the most extreme circumstances" would impact people.
Already, several people, as a result of seeing the film, have chosen to forgive an individual they thought they would never forgive.
"Maybe that's the reason we made this film. Maybe that was the calling, to help this one individual, whose life is potentially forever changed," said Conigliaro.
Baldwin added, "Regardless of how big the movie gets or how successful it becomes in the natural, it doesn’t matter; it’s already a huge success because it’s touching so many lives already."
"I don’t have any expectation of 'Loving the Bad Man' in the secular world but I have a wonderful trust in God that how the film will impact the body of Christ and from there how the body will then impact the secular," he said.
Reflecting on his current faith life, Baldwin told The Christian Post that walking with Jesus and growing as a believer is something that takes a lifetime.
"It’s something that you shouldn’t have too much of an expectation to see things happen or to see things spiritually happen in your walk with the Lord too quickly," he elaborated.
Spending time in prayer and reading the Bible on a daily basis is critical, the actor noted.
"It’s in that commitment that I believe God pours His Holy Spirit into your life more and when that happens that’s when you know the experience is very real and that usually it’s a much richer, more fruitful experience than anything else," he shared.
"Loving the Bad Man" is slated for a nationwide theater release in April.
On the Web: http://www.lovingthebadmanmovie.com/#/info