Television and film actor Kirk Cameron, 42, is often recognized for his involvement in classic sitcom series Growing Pains, but in the past decade has taken up residence in Christian media circles. The actor and producer that has been involved with 2012 documentary Monumental, the Left Behind movie series, and 2008 film Fireproof can currently be found on stage ministering through "Love Worth Fighting for" marriage tour stops at venues around the country.
While his curly-haired wig and impressions of Growing Pains character Mike Seaver are enjoyable, his insights and transparency about obstacles in his marriage to fellow actress Chelsea Noble and challenges of parenting six children are captivating. TCW caught up with Kirk last week to hear how he manages to juggle his faith, career and a healthy home-life—here's his story.
What do you think is the biggest battle or issue in troubled marriages?
The truth is that if you're in a marriage, you're struggling. As a human being, the biggest enemy in your marriage is yourself. It's the attitude that rises up inside you that says, What did he just say?, or, Oh no you didn't!, or, Girrrl, you don't speak to me that way! That attitude is inside every human being because we have a human heart that desperately needs to be changed and transformed. That means struggle and difficulty. It doesn't mean that you married the wrong person. It means that you both need to become the person God wants you to be. The school that he puts you in to teach you this is called marriage. It's hard, and there are a lot of tests and challenges, but you have a great teacher. His name is Jesus Christ. He shows you how to do it by laying down his life for people who don't deserve him. You try to become like your teacher; that's what a disciple is—to become like the marriage professor, Jesus, who models what it's like to show unconditional love to a bride who doesn't deserve it.
In your own marriage to Chelsea and having six kids at home, how do you keep faith at the center of your marriage?
Without faith, I don't think I could have a big family and keep my marriage together. The battle with selfishness is too big to win without God's help. God created marriage, and God is the cure for selfishness. He loves my wife and my kids more than anyone, and because I'm his son, he calls me to imitate him. Without faith, the whole thing would be a train wreck. Faith isn't something that I can manufacture. I pray to God to give me faith, integrity, and the ability to repent of my sins and stop blaming my wife, kids, my job, or the economy. I have to realize these are changes that I have to make. These are my issues that I have to deal with. That's a hard thing to do, and I have to rely on God.
For those who are single and/or dating, what advice do you have on pursuing a godly relationship?
Study, learn, and become passionate about marriage. If you're a newlywed or engaged, it's new and exciting, but be wise. Look at a couple who has been married for 30 years and understand that those people have been through some challenges. A lot of people are getting divorced, so ask yourself, What do I need to do so I don't fall in the same pit?
Also consider coming to a "Love Worth Fighting for" event. If you're thinking of becoming a doctor, you don't just jump into it and say, "Hey, give me a scalpel and a patient, let's have fun with this." You go to school first. You're going to train and learn. You're going to want to talk with the best—people who will inspire you to be excellent. You want it to become a passion. It's the same thing for a marriage: If you want to have a great marriage, come talk to some people who are doing it right. It doesn't mean they're doing it perfectly, but they are doing it better than the year before.
What do you enjoy most about speaking at the "Love Worth Fighting For" events?
I love that I get to talk about my favorite subject: how God designed marriage and that marriage comes with instructions. If you're in partnership with your spouse and Christ, then you can have an amazing and healthy marriage that lasts a lifetime. It's a fun event with music, humor, personal stories, clips from the movie Fireproof, and biblical teaching all wrapped up into four hours of a great time. Couples come to the event and they're laughing together, singing together, holding hands, and even wanting to renew their vows. It's an exciting night and everyone gets help. Whether your marriage is strong or weak and struggling, we talk about how to "fireproof" your marriage and to do it in a way in which your fuel is gratitude for the cross.
What's the most interesting story you've heard from people who have attended the "Love Worth Fighting For" event where God has restored their marriage after?
We've had a couple of guys propose to their girlfriends right in the middle of the event. Thank goodness they said yes—a no would be awkward in front of thousands of people [laughs]. One of my favorite memories was when we had a couple come up to us explaining they had been married years ago but got a divorce. They never remarried anybody else, and they came to the event as friends. By the end of the event they decided that they wanted to fight for their marriage and they were going to get married all over again.
Can you name three simple principles that may be helpful for our readers who are married?
Choose to sin, choose to suffer. That's just a law of the universe. Also, the path of obedience is a path of blessing. Another great principle is that there's only one person in the universe that you can change, and it's not your spouse or kids. God only gives you the ability to change one person, and that's you.
With Father's Day coming up, do you have any advice for the dads or single parents out there who are seeking to make God the center of their families?
The best gift you could ever give to your kids is to be the real deal, to be who you want your kids to become. As a dad, if I want my kids to love Jesus, I have to love Jesus. I can't just tell them to love Jesus and then be a hypocrite. It would be hypocritical if dad says the right things, but he's not walking the walk. Our kids play follow-the-leader, and they imitate a lot of the things we do, even our own religious hypocrisy. I would say [to the dads], be the real deal—be a good dad and husband. Be a real man, and love God from the heart.
Cassie Schenck is Today's Christian Woman's editorial intern. Follow her on Twitter @cassiejolene91.