The Most Biblical Show on Television

America is abuzz over an episode of the ABC Thursday night show, Scandal.

Most of you are likely not viewers of Scandal and this post isn’t a recommendation for the show. It’s not something most of you would enjoy watching. Scandal revolves around the life of Olivia Pope, a modern writers’ depiction of a fairy tale princess. She’s strong, skilled, independent, wealthy, fashionable, smart, politically savvy, and in love with the President of the United States, the ultimate prince charming. He, of course, is married, but that doesn’t stop their adulterous relationship from being the centerpiece romance of the series.

When I was downed by illness last fall, I binge-watched Scandal and was fascinated that it clearly portrays the ugliness of sin and yet has drawn a wide audience. (**This post is not an encouragement to watch this show.) I’m sure the writers had no intention of writing a biblical drama but that is exactly what they’ve done. There is more biblical truth in this show than is usually allowed on network television. It portrays the relentless allure of evil. The seduction of power. The addicting nature of violence. The hypocrisy of all humans, not just the religious ones. And the soul-less lives resulting from greed and the worship of self.

Olivia and Fitz aren’t ever rewarded for their adultery by anything more than a moment’s fleeting pleasure. Their selfish choice to pursue it despite his marriage and her relationship with another man results in chaos, deception, destruction, and even the murder of Fitz’s son (and now their unborn child). This season, Fitz finally divorced his wife and moved Olivia into the White House. It only took a few brief episodes for them both to decide, “Oh, I guess I didn’t really want all of you. What really worked for me was just the affair.”

Olivia chooses, alone, to end the life of their child, depicted to the strains of “Silent Night” and her evil father’s voice talking about his view of family. “Family is a burden, a pressure point, soft tissue, an illness, an antidote to greatness. You think you’re better off with people who rely on you, depend on you but you’re wrong because you will inevitably end up needing them, which makes you weak, pliable. Family doesn’t complete you, it destroys you.”

In the Darwinian world we’re creating, in these days of Noah, we’re at least becoming clear about our choices. Only the strong survive and to be strong, the writers of this show say, we must not only be willing to be alone, we must value aloneness, self, above all else. If we worship at the altar of “what I want right now,” we’re guaranteed to be the toughest souls in the room.

Jesus spoke of this in Revelation 3:17 “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.The characters on this show play anti-biblical choices out to their inevitable conclusion and then embrace their delusion, calling it freedom and strength when really it’s death.

In the world of Scandal, Christians are shrill, hypocritical, weak-minded, a sham. They don’t resemble the Christians I know but they’re not supposed to do that. They’re “boogie man” believers portrayed this way to frighten people off from the truth.

The truth is that Olivia Pope is a fairy tale princess for the times of Noah. It’s fitting that her job is “a fixer.” She spins stories when high-powered, wealthy people are in trouble in order to help them escape the consequences of their bad choices. Sometimes she tells the truth but only when it serves her purposes. She is artful at her craft, beautiful and alluring, but ultimately she gives birth to death. Olivia Pope embodies the wide road that leads to destruction.

The truth is that Olivia isn’t strong enough to choose true love. She doesn’t have it within her to embrace vulnerability and full-relationship. Every cookie-baking housewife on earth is stronger than Olivia Pope because they have chosen the true test of strength – loving another enough to be willing to open one’s heart to them. To sacrifice and be sacrificed for. To remain faithful through the boring hard times as well as the hot romantic ones. To be vulnerable. To face illness, loss, and failure with the same commitment as prosperity, attraction, and triumph. To be willing to look boring to the deceived world in order to know the adventure of truly loving one other, and one’s children, for a lifetime.

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:10 “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.This is no fairy tale faith. This is truth lived out in full measure in a fallen world until He comes.

Scandal is unintentionally a biblical show because it truly portrays the sad destruction of a life devoted to self. I don’t recommend it for viewing but I also don’t recommend being afraid of it. God’s truth is so powerful that even when people reject it, they find themselves testifying to it.

This show isn’t actually scandalous. The true scandal of our times is God’s willingness to extend grace through His Only Son.

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2 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Cherrilynn says:

    I love this Lori. I have watched Scandal. Very dark, just like the world we live in. “Every cookie-baking housewife on earth is stronger than Olivia Pope” thank you for encouraging real love an commitment. I wonder what would happen if they had a steadfast Jesus follower, speaker of the truth, as a character. That would truly be a Scandal. I would record that show.

  2. Carla says:

    You nailed it again, Lori. I love the way Abba speaks to us, even through evil.