American Sniper, the stunningly realistic and controversial movie about the Navy Seal veteran of Iraq, Chris Kyle, which has already set records at the US box office for a non-franchise movie with more than $200m in sales. The movie earned over $10m on its third Friday of wide release.
There is no doubt that this movie has touched a nerve in the American soul. I can’t speak for women, but I can say as a man that the heart of this movie is about the heart of a man. I watched American Sniper with twenty men from our church, The Road. When the movie ended you could hear a pin drop in the theater. We all stood around for almost an hour and talked about the movie’s impact.
There is something martial and heroic about Chris Kyle, not just for what he did as a Navy Seal Sniper, but what he represents that has been lost in our country. We’ve lost the masculine heart.
We live in a time in history where the masculine heart has been obliterated by the continued media and education cannon volleys of the androgynous, sensitive, GQ new male. And then comes American Sniper. The story of a man, who loves his country, lives for battle, sacrifices for his fellow soldiers, and hates evil. It’s the story of a man who loves his family and still has a conviction that there are ideals worth dying for.
So what is it about this movie that captures the masculine heart? Why do men (even women) keep flocking to this movie? Why are they not crowding into the theaters where The Boy Next Door and The Wedding Ringer are also playing? I believe that the answer lies in the longings of the masculine heart captured so deeply through this movie.
I observe five longings of the masculine heart that are affirmed in American Sniper:
- The masculine heart longs to live dangerously. Chris Kyle, Navy Seal Sniper, courageously walks into harms way on four tours of duty in Iraq.
- The masculine heart longs to battle alongside true allies. In this movie, the intimacy, camaraderie and love of these soldiers for each other is profound.
- The masculine heart longs for a beauty and an ideal to fight for. Chris Kyle’s love for his wife and the ideals of freedom are evident throughout.
- The masculine heart longs to be wholehearted. Chris Kyle is fully engaged in everything he does—from the rodeo to the battlefield.
- The masculine heart longs to live for a greater love. Jesus said, “greater love has no man than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” Chris Kyle lived this everyday of his brief life—in Iraq, at home, and in helping veterans.
Men, let me encourage you to go out and see this movie. Take along another man, talk about it afterwards. Lean into your heart and listen to your longings.
On the road,
The Road: www.theroadcs.org