Today’s Prayer Focus

The Preacher's Wife

Reviewed by: Gary Knox

Moral Rating: Average
Moviemaking Quality:
Primary Audience: 16 to Adult
Genre: Romantic Drama
Length: 124 min.
Year of Release: 1996
USA Release:
Featuring Whitney Houston, Denzel Washington, Courtney B. Vance, Gregory Hines, Jenifer Lewis, Loretta Devine, Justin Pierre, Lionel Richie
Director Penny Marshall

You will probably come away from this movie feeling good. The gospel music is energetic and often uplifting. And the script is good at drawing out empathy for preachers' wives and how they have to share their loved one with so many others—an ongoing marital tension that most of us don’t normally face.

“The Preacher’s Wife” has several engaging subplots, but is primarily about an angel (Denzel Washington) who is sent to help a preacher, his family, and their struggling inner-city church. The pastor is losing his religious vision and energy, and for good reason! He is “doing it all.” He serves everyone but his wife and child. The angel’s main assignment seems to be that of helping the pastor to re-prioritize his home life and ministry, but he is diverted by his desire to give the preacher’s wife (Whitney Houston) the attention and encouragement she desperately lacks. Adding tension to the whole situation is a businessman who plans to commercially develop the church property and surrounding neighborhood.

After saving an innocent youth from jail time, the preacher takes a stand against the developer. His energy is rekindled, but his “do it all” style has not changed …and his wife draws ever-closer to the angel.

While never blatently overstepping the boundaries of good taste, the story does center heavily on the romantic attraction of the angel to the preacher’s wife. The angel (a deceased human rather than a created being) has many human traits and desires, muddling somewhat his “assignment” with the preacher and his wife. In the end, however, things work out right and most viewers can be seen smiling or crying.

If you are looking for a thoughtful religious message, look a little farther. It’s not here. If you are just looking for a feel good message, however, this one will probably hit the spot.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Negative—Forgive me, but I couldn’t get beyond an angel from God lusting after a preacher’s wife. Would God send a lust-filled angel to Earth to help? Hmmmm… that isn’t God’s nature. Why couldn’t the angel just come to help the family? My Ratings: [Average / 2½]
L. Simmons, age 32
Negative—We attend few movies, but decided “The Preacher’s Wife” appeared to be a good one. While my wife enjoyed it, I came away in a bad mood… didn’t enjoy it much at all. The acting and plot weren’t what I expected. I wouldn’t recommend it.
Bob McMaster, age 57
Negative—I hated this movie. Witney Houston and Denzel Washington’s characters were the only likable ones in the movie. It had a few funny parts. Way to much singing. I did not go to see a musical, but if you like Whitney Houston it’s fine.

I thought “The Bishop’s Wife” was much, much better and entertaining (no one can beat Cary Grant). The only problem that both movies share is that the angels both fall in love with the other guy’s wife and I don’t think that that is very angelic.
Kim, age 14
Positive—Excellent! The movie was a wonderful story of an almost-love triangle with a fascinating twist. I found the movie to be warm and caring, the love triangle is worked out in a way that uplifts marriage.

But above all, it was a beautiful picture of all that is positive about the African-American church; for most white Christians, it was a gentle introduction to a different style of “doing church.” But it also showed the characters as real people in dilemmas we all face.

It seems so many portrayals of black characters revolve around making race the focus. This movie portrayed the characters as real people acting in a real cultural setting in real situations (some of which—like the robbery and (in)justice scenes—would be foreign to whites). OK, maybe not totally real—this IS Hollywood, ya know.

Beyond that, it certainly made some loud and clear statements about how close any of us can come to being swept off our feet by another when the marriage partner is too busy to catch the warning signals.
Roger Haun, age 40
Positive—My eight year old son and I saw this movie right around the holidays. It was perfect for us. I enjoyed it a lot. I did not see anything wrong with it (the angels relationship to the wife) it was heart warming. The movie upheld all of our Christian values, such as, marital fidelity, commitment to family, helping the less fortunate, etc. I would recommend this movie to any Christian and non-christian family (this could also be a good witnessing time for friends and family who are not Christian).
Clifford Sebastian
Negative—One thing that really surprised me is that the preacher told the angel to take his wife out. This preacher must have been really tired or something. It’s not totally scriptural, not even close. I do not consider this a Christian Movie. Not in the least bit. Don’t let the devil tell you that either. I don’t suggest this for new believers. By the way Whitney can’t act.
Enrique Lombana, age 28
Positive—As the review of this movie indicates, there is much good to be found in this movie, from a Christian point of view. The movie centers around and details some of the trials of living a Christian life. It’s about a minister and his family and his flock and his struggle to keep it all together. It’s enlivened by the comedic-dramatic-romantic effects of an angel’s intervention. (I disagree with the portrayal of the angel as romantically susceptible…).
G. Davis, age 41
Neutral—Though not exactly scriptural, “The Preacher’s Wife” is a light-hearted comedy that makes you feel good. …At the end (of this movie) I almost felt like I was in church. The only thing I found unsatisfactory was Dudley’s mild attraction to (the pastor’s wife) Whitney Houston.
Patricia M. Garrett
Positive—Very enjoyable. …The positives: Finally, a male angel! Portrayal of the preacher as a true man of God, with no ridiculing of him or his office—shows him ministering. Great music, with Whitney Houston. Good humor, sensitivity. The negatives: Portrayal of an angel as a deceased person, rather than a created being. Angel is not fully informed as to his mission. Angel has tendency to want to yield to temptation (the positive side is that he doesn't). Other than the faulty portrayal of an angel, there really are no other downsides that I can recall! …Overall, the film was very good, with Christian values triumphing in the end.
Glenda H. Davis
Preacher’s Wife was pretty good overall. It was not sarcastic about religion as are most Hollywood films. …As far as warnings go, there were two questionable words (most people do not consider them swearing, but they were definitely inappropriate). The preacher’s wife also wore a dress in one scene that was unnecessarily revealing. Also, angels do not flirt or have sexual desires; this movie is fictional and must be viewed as such.
Katherine Trask
I have not watched Preacher’s Wife because the adds I saw implied some sort of attraction between an angel and the wife. Even hinting at adultery should not be tolerated if we want to appreciate the sanctity of marriage. The race of the actors has absolutely nothing to do with my choice to not support this movie; I simply do not appreciate the implied adulterous considerations.
L. Willingham, age 19
I found very interesting the definitive statements about angels not being tempted, not flirting, not having sexual desires, not being dead people, etc… I’d love to see the Biblical basis for these statements, all I’m certain of is that angels are messengers from God, and as such, Denzel may have been a perfectly valid “angel”… Both my wife and I loved the film, and would recommended it to anyone, Christian or not. The Christian message is almost up to the standard of the popular series “Touched by an Angel,” and is far superior to most Hollywood fare. The only problem we had with it is arguing over whether it was better than the original “Bishop’s Wife,” which is also a superb movie if you can find it.
Jim Graham, age 42
Wow! what a good movie! Granted, there were a few theological issues, but taken with the whole and laid against what else is out there, this movie is a triumph! I love the Bishop’s Wife with Cary Grant, this is equally good but different. We should all go see it at least twice and then buy it on video. Send the message that this kind of filmmaking is what we want and will pay for! Whitney Houston and Denzel Washington are both drop-dead gorgeous, and Courtney Vance isn’t bad either!