Celebrity Spotlight on a Christian Marriage
About the Guest
So how does a self-described "skinny kid with a new faith" resist the destructive influences in Hollywood without running away? Join us for a very candid interview with Kirk and Chelsea Cameron, from a recent Love Like You Mean It® cruise.
Kirk and Chelsea CameronKirk is best known as the lovable teen heartthrob Mike Seaver, of the award winning series Growing Pains. He entertained audiences worldwide as the charming troublemaker. He is also known to many Christians as "Buck Williams" from the Left Behind films -- based on the NY Times runaway best selling novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Kirk's most recent role was playing the part of "Capt. Caleb Holt" from the 2008 blockbuster movie success, Fireproof. But much more noteworthy than his actin...more
So how does a self-described “skinny kid with a new faith” resist the destructive influences in Hollywood without running away? Join us for a very candid interview with Kirk and Chelsea Cameron.
Celebrity Spotlight on a Christian Marriage
Bob: What is the toughest job actor Kirk Cameron has ever had? He says it is being a husband and a dad.
Kirk: It is the most challenging thing in the world to not just check out when things get difficult; or just go take another acting role, where someone says, “Good job”; or go grab a beer and numb yourself to the pain, or the challenge, or to the whatever—and say: “No, I need to stand on the Word of God. I need to be this parent / I need to be this spouse. And this is my number-one ministry.”
Bob: This is a special edition of FamilyLife Today for Friday, June 26th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We’re going to sit down for a conversation with Kirk and Chelsea Cameron, live, aboard the Love Like You Mean It® marriage cruise today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. We have a couple of folks joining us who were on a TV show we wouldn’t let our kids watch when they were growing up.
Dennis: That’s right; and we have some of our friends, here in the studio.
Bob: Studio audience—they’re booing me about my TV show comment. Here’s the thing—we didn’t know; okay? And so we just said, “None of them—you can’t watch…” “Gilligan’s Island is okay,” and from there one there’s nothing else—Yes, there’s a Gilligan fan right there.
Dennis: Well, we are joined by Kirk and Chelsea Cameron. Welcome to the broadcast.
Chelsea: Thank you, it so good to be here.
Kirk: Great to be here—great to be with you.
Dennis: Are you surprised that Bob wouldn’t let his kids watch your program?
Kirk: Well, I would say that—you know, it’s interesting—our kids haven’t watched our program. I think our reasons may have been a little different than your parents or from you, as parents. We just never wanted our kids to grow up with a celebrity mom and dad. So, we never turned on Growing Pains. It’d be like you forcing your kids to sit down and listen to FamilyLife; right? It’d be a little—
Bob: Which he has done on occasion. [Laughter]
Dennis: Would you tell me what’s wrong with that?
Kirk: Alright, I’m making assumptions I shouldn’t.
Dennis: My kids have said: “Dad, we don’t listen to your broadcast. We’ve heard your stuff!”
Kirk: That’s right; that’s right.
Chelsea: I think—well, they have seen a little bit of Growing Pains. They spend most of the time laughing at our hair and our outfits.
Bob: You did have—I’ve seen pictures—you were the ‘80s hair girl. And I--
Kirk: It was the decade of the blow dryer.
Bob: It was.
Kirk: It really was.
Bob: I guess—like I said—I didn’t know one from another to know if there was objectionable material. Was Growing Pains a good, clean, wholesome family show?
Kirk: You know, I would say that comparatively / relatively speaking, it was. But even I, when I became a Christian, was concerned about some of the things that I was being asked to say in my role as Mike Seaver. That caused quite a bit of friction. So, relatively speaking, it was clean; but I would say today I would blush at some of the things that came out of my mouth on that show.
Dennis: So how did you become a Christian then?
Kirk: The Holy Spirit—He came into my heart and converted me. [Laughter]
Dennis: Thank you for that answer—that’s theologically accurate. [Laughter] Let’s talk about how you humanly became—no, what were the circumstances that resulted in you coming to faith?
Kirk: I like that you guys like to have fun.
Dennis: We do!
Kirk: It makes it so much more fun.
Dennis: It is.
Kirk: Well let’s see. I did not grow up in a Christian home; although, my mom went to church, as a little girl, and had faith in God / in Jesus.
But I don’t think that that was ever really developed to the point where she knew how to take us to church and what the right thing to do was there. When I was 17 years old, right in the middle of Growing Pains, someone invited me to church. Chuck Swindoll was the pastor of this church—I didn’t know who he was. I was sitting in the back row, trying to not be recognized as the guy on Growing Pains. I just heard a message that felt like someone hit a line drive right to me.
I went home and asked my friend’s father a bunch of questions about God, and the Bible, and Jesus. He answered those questions and, then, ultimately led me to go to God myself and ask Him if He would reveal Himself to me. You know, like: “I can’t answer all your questions. God ultimately has to answer THE question, and you need to go to Him on His terms and not on your terms.”
Dennis: And how long before you actually made a personal commitment to Christ?
Kirk: I think I wrestled through all of that for a couple of months. Then I found myself in my sports car, parked on the side of the road, asking God to show me who He is and make me into the man He wanted me to be. That began my journey of going to church, reading the Bible, and understanding the gospel more fully, and then deciding that I wanted to be a Christian.
Dennis: You know, it occurs to me Bob—we have a lot of listeners who probably are well connected with kids who are growing up in homes that don’t go to church—
Dennis: —maybe they’re broken homes, maybe they are intact families—it doesn’t really matter—but just a simple matter of inviting a young man or a young lady to go to church with your family and to experience God.
Bob: Yes; right.
Dennis: It’s a great idea and it ultimately resulted in your faith-walk today.
Kirk: It absolutely did. I was not expecting it—I was not seeking after God. As a wise man said to me once, “God is the One who seeks after lost sinners.”
Dennis: Yes; yes.
Kirk: I certainly wasn’t seeking after God. I was a young man who was having fun in all of his self-centered sin; and yet, I could feel that there was something wrong with that; but the last thing I wanted was someone who was going to take away my fun. What I found is—there is a God, who is seeking out a young man, and wanted to show him why he was created and put on this planet.
Bob: Did you have any sense, as you were wrestling with the “God question” in your life—were you conscious at all of the fact that what you decided about God might affect the career path you were on?
Kirk: I don’t think I anticipated the impact that my faith decision would have on my career because it so overpowered and overshadowed my career. I was being offered popularity on this side; and on this side, I was being offered the removal of my sins and being raised from the dead.
There’s not a real tough choice here—between the two, in my mind—when I realized that I could die at any moment; and if that moment came, what I would need most of all was what Jesus was offering.
Bob: Not popularity—absolutely. Chelsea, were you on the show, at this point?
Chelsea: I was; I was.
Bob: So were you aware that Kirk was in the middle of this spiritual transition in his life?
Chelsea: Oh, yes; yes, because I was also. I actually worked with his sister, Candace, on Full House—was one of my first jobs.
Bob: We wouldn’t let our kids watch that one either. [Laughter]
Chelsea: So, I had met Kirk’s mom. She was just a lovely—down-to-earth—just a great woman. I just loved her. I loved his sister; and Kirk was down on the set, one time, when I was there. I had a friend visiting from New York, who was handicapped. She wanted a picture with Kirk.
I remember how he spent time with her; and I remember his heart, right from the start. I just thought, “What a great guy.”
I think it was months later I got a job on Growing Pains. I worked on the show for three weeks. At the end of that three weeks, they called me into the green room. I walked in there very nervously. They asked me to sit down; and they said: “You know, there have been a lot of girls that have come on this show; but there’s something about the chemistry with you and Kirk—there’s just something that we see. [Laughter] There’s something in this chemistry. We’d like to explore this some more. We are wondering if you would like to come back next year.” And here we are.
Kirk: Was it really that hard of a choice, Hon? [Laughter]
Dennis: So how old were you, Kirk, at that point?
Kirk: Let’s see, I was 19—about 19 years old.
Dennis: And Chelsea.
Kirk: Oh, are you really going to ask that question?
Dennis: Sure—I just did!
Kirk: Oh! [Laughter]
Chelsea: Yes, I was a few years older.
Dennis: Were you?
Chelsea: I was.
Dennis: How about that. [Laughter] So, your mom, Kirk, encountered Chelsea—
Kirk: That’s right. You know what my told me, when she came home one day, and said, “Kirk, do you remember that girl you met on the set of Full House, whose friend asked to take a picture with you?” I said: “Yes, of course. How could I forget? She’s beautiful.” And she said: “Well I’ve seen her there before. She is a really special girl, and I just want you to know I am praying that one day you will meet and marry a girl just like her.”
Kirk: And it was about a year later that she came onto the set, and we played boyfriend and girlfriend on Growing Pains. We got to be friends; and our very first “date,” if you will, was to a Michael W. Smith concert.
Chelsea: Wait, wait, wait, that wasn’t—no wait. That wasn’t a first date because I have to tell you—
Kirk: Wasn’t it?
Dennis: I love when an eye-witness to history corrects—
Chelsea: It wasn’t the first date. On the set, he would say to me: “Hey, you know, a bunch of my friends are all going out to get something to eat after work. I just wanted to know if you wanted to come—you’re welcome to come.”
Chelsea: And I would say—
Kirk: You weren’t supposed to tell that story.
Chelsea: And I’d say: “Sure! That sounds like fun.” So, I’d show up at the place; and there were no friends there. [Laughter] I was like: “Where are all your friends?”
Kirk: Alright, it’s true. See—
Chelsea: Where were all your friends?
Dennis: Was this before or after you became a Christian? [Laughter]
Kirk: Yes, this is the deceit, after I became a Christian—so the sanctification process wasn’t in full swing yet.
Bob: Remaining sin; remaining sin.
Chelsea: There wasn’t even one other friend there.
Kirk: I was too embarrassed to just ask her out myself for fear she would turn me down. So, I just said, “A bunch of us are going, do you want to join us?”
Chelsea: A bunch.
Kirk: And then, when I went there, I’d say, “My friends couldn’t show up.”
That way I got to just hang out; and we could talk—the two of us.
Dennis: So that really was your first date?
Chelsea: Pretty much—yes. I’d say so.
Bob: Did you fall for him quick?
Chelsea: I did—I liked him immediately. I was always very uncomfortable on sets because I was the guest star so—but he was almost like somebody I’d grown up with in upstate New York. I felt like, instantly, very comfortable with him.
Dennis: So how long did you date before you asked her to marry you? How did you ask her to be your bride?
Kirk: Wow! I can’t remember exactly how long it was between the time we met and when I asked her to marry me; but there came a time where I realized that: “If I don’t ask this girl to marry me soon, she’s going to be gone. Somebody else is going to ask her.” I thought, “I have got to make my move”—right?—“because she’s so special and unique,”—I thought. Well, we’d been seeing each other for, at least, six months / maybe nine months maybe—something like that—we’d been good friends.
Chelsea: It was about nine months.
Kirk: Maybe nine months. I surprised her. I went to New York—we had dinner together. I planned to ask her to marry me with my parents there because it was right around Christmas time.
Kirk: I chickened out while my parents were there. My mom was very upset with me that she wasn’t there when I proposed. They went back home, and I stayed for a little while longer to get up the nerve to ask her to marry me. We went out to dinner to exchange our Christmas presents—which we had not yet. I got down on one knee and gave her a box in the middle of this restaurant. Inside the box was a ring, and I asked her to marry me.
Dennis: Did you know it was coming?
Chelsea: I didn’t know it was coming then. I was--
Bob: But you had a sense?
Chelsea: I think we both kind of knew that’s what we wanted, but it was an amazing moment; yes.
Bob: So that story—people got to watch the chemistry between the characters, then we read in all the fan magazines that you guys are getting married. I still wouldn’t let my kids watch the show, even though you were married now—it still wasn’t acceptable. [Laughter] Following that, how did your faith-walk together affect the path your careers took at that point?
Kirk: I think what stands out most to me was I became very aware that I needed to live my life in a way that would please God, even if it meant that it would ruffle some feathers—that it would go against the proper code of the way an actor is supposed to be on the set. So when roles / lines would come up within Growing Pains that didn’t square with that, I would go and say: “Hey guys, is there a way that we can change this / alter this? I’m not feeling comfortable, and this is difficult for me.”
Sometimes, that was met with: “Hey we understand. Let’s try this.” And other times it wasn’t. That became a difficult and challenging time for me. Sometimes, it was misinterpreted by other people as a celebrity trying to flex his star power muscle and get his way, which really wasn’t it at all—I was s skinny kid who was just trying to do the right thing. It wasn’t always supported—so that was hard—but that’s where faith is formed / that’s where your convictions are forged and your character is built—when it’s tough.
Dennis: Yes. You’re going against the grain of an entire culture in Hollywood.
I’m sorry—but I’ve got to ask you one of my favorite questions: “What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done in your life?” This will give you a little time to think about it—but courage isn’t the absence of fear—it’s doing your duty in the face of fear.
Chelsea: Courageous for me, right now, and the most courageous thing would be to raise my six kids the way the Lord tells us to in the culture that we’re living—to stay focused on God, and the hearts of those kids, and to courageously steer them, making decisions that go against the grain.
Bob: That’s no small thing.
Chelsea: Right; no, it’s very challenging.
Bob: It can sound like even a stock answer maybe but the truth is—
Chelsea: That’s the truth though—that’s the truth.
Bob: —that’s the reality that lots of moms and dads are facing right now. They have to make courageous decisions to say: “These are our standards. These are our convictions. This is how we’re going to be, as a family.”
Chelsea: Right. And to be able to not be on the defense of life but to have the courage to say: “This is who we are. This is where we’re going,”—to paint that exciting future for them and be on the offense of life.
Dennis: That’s a great answer—it’s a great answer. The thing I want a mom, who’s hearing you say that—or a dad for that matter—doesn’t matter whether you live in Hollywood or in small town America—everybody has our tendency to compare and feel the pressure to conform—doesn’t matter where you live. You’re just saying nothing calls you out more than those six children—and doing it according to the Scriptures—to shape their hearts to love Jesus Christ.
Chelsea: Yes; definitely.
Dennis: So Kirk, we’ve stalled long enough. What’s your most courageous thing?
Kirk: Well, Chelsea’s answer and your comments snapped me back into reality because I was trying to think of some great witnessing encounter that was hard or something like that—but you’re right—the most courageous thing I’m called to do in my life / I’m still being called to do—and it’s still hard.
And that is—to be the man that God calls me to be in the roles He’s called me to be in.
Honestly, it is the most challenging thing in the world to not just check out when things get difficult; or just go take another acting role where you get patted on the back or someone says, “Good job”; or go grab a beer and numb yourself to the pain, or the challenge, or to the whatever, and say: “No—I need to stand on the Word of God. I need to be this parent / I need to be this spouse. This is my number-one ministry. This is my number-one vocation—is to be a husband and a father—for me, as a man—and to do that well.” That takes a lot of courage because there are so many exit routes that you can take along the way that are easier or that might be more self-satisfying.
But in the end, those ways lead to failure, and regret, and guilt. The way that leads to life is the way that takes all the courage—and that is to be faithful to God, as a husband and father. What we find out in the end is that that’s the path that leads to true glory, in a Kingdom sense, and true joy and satisfaction, in a Kingdom sense.
Bob: You have become kind of a lightning rod in Hollywood—almost a favorite whipping boy for mainstream media—somebody that it’s just kind of like: “Let’s just find anything Kirk Cameron says that we can ridicule and go after it.” Why are they picking on you; do you think?
Kirk: Well, in some ways, I see it as a bit on an honor that I’m someone who is not off the radar screen when it comes to things that are antithetical to a non-Christian unbiblical worldview; right?
So, I’m not going to expect the applause coming from people on the other side of the line; right? And hopefully, that God will work all these things together for good because He says that He will.
Bob: Chelsea, how does it make you feel, as a wife, when you pick up a paper or see a crawl, along the bottom of the TV screen, “Kirk Cameron said this”; and the media has him in the crosshairs?
Chelsea: It’s really difficult because I know him and I know his heart. It’s so twisted and it’s not Kirk they don’t like.
Dennis: I’m pleased to know you and have you represent Jesus Christ in a place that really does need the light of Christ—among people who need to know Him, and who are loved by God, and who are made in the image of God.
Dennis: I’m pleased you’re there.
I’m pleased you’re mixing it up, and you’re raising a family in the midst of it. I hope God does exceedingly abundantly beyond all you could ask or think through your career in movie and with all your talents and abilities.
Chelsea: Thank you.
Kirk: Yes, thank you. Thank you both, Dennis and Bob, for what you guys do—for your marriages, and for your families, and for FamilyLife—and putting these cruises on. How thankful are you—just to be here experiencing, people? [Applause] I mean, we sit in our cabin in the evening, just like you—well, we have five kids with us so it’s a little different—we don’t have the romantic experience that you’ve all had—but we sit there and talk about what we’ve heard from Voddie Baucham / how those songs from Steven Curtis reminded us of the days when we were dealing with and struggling with this or that. It’s just so great that you put this on. Thank you.
Chelsea: Yes, I have to say, just even sitting here, right now, you both have taught me so much that we have applied—that has blessed our marriage.
Kirk: We listen to you on the radio. We learn from you. We’ve been through Passport to Purity® with our kids. [Applause]
Chelsea: And many of the—so it is—we grow from being here so much. I personally want to thank you for just the wisdom and instruction that you’ve given to us through the years too—it helped to keep our marriage strong and our family strong.
Bob: We’re all working together to kill the dragon and get the girl.
Kirk: Yes, we are. Just one final thank-you for that outfit you wore that first evening because it really did save me—because one evening, I was walking around with these flip flop sandals, with a pair of socks combined with them, and it was a pretty bad outfit—but it didn’t compare to yours on that first evening—so thank you.
Bob: I did it just for you, bro—absolutely. Would you thank Kirk and Chelsea Cameron? [Applause]
Bob: You know, listening back to that conversation with Kirk and Chelsea Cameron onboard the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise, back in February, is just a great reminder of what a great week we get to spend together when we head out for that week-long experience. The Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise is designed to build stronger, healthier marriages and families in a setting that really can’t be beat—and with some special guests, along the way, who help make it all happen.
I’m mentioning that because we are down to the final few cabins available for next year’s Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise. We’re going to be on a bigger ship in 2016—heading out the day after Valentine’s day on Monday, February 15, going to Jamaica and Grand Cayman.
Our speakers this year include Darrin Patrick, Bryan Loritts. Lysa TerKeurst is going to be with us. Dave and Ann Wilson will be back again this year; and of course, Dennis and Barbara Rainey will be onboard, along with the music from Sanctus Real, Steve Green, Selah, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound—a great Southern Gospel group.
It’s just going to be a wonderful getaway, and we’d love to have you be part of it. Find out more by going to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link in the upper left-hand corner of the screen that says, “GO DEEPER.” Look for the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise information. Just click there, and all the information you need is available—you can register for your stateroom, online. If it’s easier / if you have any questions, call 1-800-FL-TODAY—1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY.”
And with that, we have to wrap things up for this week. Thanks for being with us. Hope you have a great weekend. Hope you and your family can worship together in church this weekend. And then I hope you can join us back on Monday when we’re going to hear about how God is leading the Baucham family—you know, Voddie Baucham and his wife Bridget. Have you heard about where they’re headed? Well, we’ll hear from them about where God is leading them on Monday. Hope you can join us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. Have a great weekend. See you back Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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