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New documentary argues the traditional family is 'Irreplaceable'

Published: Monday, May 5 2014 11:40 p.m. MDT

Focus on the Family's controversial new documentary, "Irreplaceable," which will be released during a one-night theatrical event on May 6, explores the breakdown of the traditional family and its consequences.

Irreplaceable The Movie, Facebook

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On Tuesday, more than 700 theaters across the country will screen the documentary "Irreplaceable" during a one-night event.

The film, produced by the Christian advocacy group Focus on the Family, explores why individuals need families and the factors leading to the decline of the traditional family.

"I've always believed in traditional family," Tim Sisarich, former executive director of Focus on the Family New Zealand and the film's narrator, said in a trailer, "but every day in the media, I seem to be told that I've got it wrong. Does culture have it right, or is there something better?"

The screening is taking place while same-sex marriage battles rage across the country and public sentiment is shifting in favor of gay marriage. Although "Irreplaceable" is not directly assaulting gay marriage, Focus on the Family is facing backlash because of the film's pro-traditional family message.

"Focus on the Family is trying to pass this film off as a real documentary about marriage with a fair and balanced message. This is simply not true," said Shalom Rosenberg, who is leading a petition drive against the film.

Sisarich's journey

Filming "Irreplaceable" was a personal journey for Sisarich. Before he participated in the project, Sisarich said he had a "boxing ring" mentality of fighting against culture for his family.

"As a dad, I was genuinely concerned … that the culture was trying to somehow seep into my home to rob me of my kids," Sisarich told the Deseret News in an email. "If I didn't find out for myself what was out there, then I wouldn't be equipped or prepared."

By the end of the filming process, Sisarich's views of parenting had shifted.

"I learned that I was trying so hard to be a great parent to my kids; trying so hard to make sure that they’re ready for the world, that I wasn’t actually creating an environment in which they could thrive. I was only trying to teach them to survive," said Sisarich.

He explained he learned from the wisdom of Solomon to "teach a child about the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it."

"An old Jewish guy told me that this little proverb literally means that we should study our kids, learn their strengths, talents and giftings. And then, simply encourage them to do more of that. Then when they’re grown, they will excel at life, and love doing it, because they’re doing what they’re wired to do," Sisarich said.

Sisarich added he learned to accept himself while completing "Irreplaceable."

"I discovered that God likes me. I don’t mean loves me, He’s bound by his own laws to love me. God actually likes Tim Sisarich and wants to spend time with me, just as I am, not when I become who I should be," he said.

Documentary controversy

Although "Irreplaceable" has garnered praise for pinpointing why the nuclear family is still important from those who have seen advanced screenings of the film, others are not lauding the documentary's message that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

In fact, a Change.org petition, which has 953 supporters, calls for theaters to cancel "Irreplaceable" showings — and a theater in Ohio has complied.

Rosenberg, who authored the petition, told the Deseret News he was disturbed when he saw the "Irreplaceable" movie trailer at a local theater.

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