God, Faith, and TV: Representation

“All religion is ridiculous to the non-believer” (Law and Order: SVU). 

**DISCLAIMER**: I am not a TV or movie critic.** My thoughts below are simply my personal reflections on a specific episode I watched.


Last night, I watched Season 18, episode 19, “Conversion”, of Law and Order: SVU, one of my favorite TV shows, on Netflix. The episode was essentially about a teenage boy who raped a teenage girl, calling it “curative intercourse”, because he believed it was God’s will, so that the girl’s soul can be saved from damnation because she was a lesbian; the episode is about the aftermath of that. I encourage you to watch the episode yourself to have your own insights and conclusions. It was a good episode, one I really enjoyed. What prompted me to write this piece is to process how my faith was presented.

It has been my personal experience that Christians are not portrayed in a good light on TV. I felt that this particular SVU episode had cult-ish undertones in the way people referred to God and His will; I felt that the people involved were looking more to their reverend for direction than to God and the Bible. That bothers me because it then puts Christianity in the hands of man and not Jesus Christ. And you know, you can’t have Christianity without Christ (haha).

Perhaps the deeper issue for me is that I’m tired of seeing Christians being portrayed in that way. When I watch TV, Christianity is never shown as being about the saving power of Jesus, or the immense love of God, or the comforting and guiding presence of the Holy Spirit. Instead, it’s about people using their faith to abuse power, or people using the Bible to justify doing hateful things, or people in a cult where they have no autonomy. Where are episodes where the Christian shows unconditional love to his/her neighbor? Where are the episodes where the Christian does something that is not for underlying malicious reasons? Where are the episodes where the Christian is surrounded by mentors who encourage and admonish in a Godly way? I know it’s mainstream TV, representation will be different, but still…

“Curative intercourse” is NOT Biblical, but I wonder why the show chose to put that on TV. I’ve heard that some cultures support corrective rape, but that has nothing to do with God’s will. It is never God’s will for someone to be raped or assaulted. It should be understood that all perversion of sex and sexuality is wrong in the eyes of God! God DOES NOT condone rape, molestation, pedophilia, pornography, or any kind of sexual assault or wrong being done against other people! It is time that people stop using God or the Bible or religion or faith as an excuse to perpetrate evil! We cannot take salvation in our own hands because only God can save– and “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is not her name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, NIV). Jesus is the only one through whom we can be saved; He is the only one who can change our lives and hearts… not a pastor, not a reverend, not curative intercourse or conversion therapy!

Another disclaimer: I am not an apologist. I understand that sexuality (and its expressions) is becoming more and more controversial in our country– it’s becoming difficult to stand up because it seems like any disagreement means you are hateful, and that is not true. As someone who believes in God, I believe in what the Bible says about sex and sexuality. The Bible is clear that homosexuality is a sin– and it is not a bigger sin than adultery or drunkenness or greediness (1st Corinthians 6:9-10). And I think the disconnect between Christians and non-Christians is that we see homosexuality and all sin, not as an identity, but as a choice– sin is a choice. God does not create anyone a sinner, but our human nature makes us susceptible to sin (sin is simply missing the mark that was set; imagine missing the bull’s eye, that’s sin).  For me, being a believer in Jesus, my identity is not in sin, but in Him! As much as homosexuality is a sin, it should not be presented in a way that God has damned everyone who is homosexual! If that’s the case, then all liars are damned, too.

This disconnect that we have will always be there until we all see things from God’s perspective. I used to not understand God’s perspective, so I understand why Christians and non-Christians don’t see eye-to-eye; and I guess I can understand why the representation of God and faith in God on screen is a bit skewed. I am grateful that now I see things from His perspective, and let me tell you, the God I know is a good, good God of love, and grace, and mercy with open arms! He will not reject you because of your sin because He doesn’t want anyone to perish (2nd Peter 3:9), but He wants everyone to repent (this just means turning away from what you’re doing and turning back to God); and the more you are in Him, the more your identity is in Him alone. I am not ashamed to be on His side, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes…” (Romans 1:16, NIV). The way the world sees things will always contradict the way God sees things. Nevertheless, His love remains! He showed that by allowing Jesus to die (John 3:16) so that you and I can have a relationship with Him! He SO loves you! He SO loves me! This is God’s nature!

This is what I want to see on TV! My walk with God is not a religion, and it breaks my heart to see that that’s the way it’s being shown on screen. If that episode is an example that people see of Christianity, no wonder people don’t want anything to do with the true nature of God.

I want to clarify that I am not hating on the episode, it just stirred something in me. I give the episode props, though, for showing other aspects of faith, such as forgiveness and justice, which are also characteristics of God!

It is my belief that people’s view of God will always be skewed until they look at Jesus– this has been my experience. But like Paul said, “But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away” (2nd Corinthians 3:16, NIV). And only Jesus can take that veil away. You know, I’m just a girl who loves TV and movies, but I love my God more, and I’d like for the God I know to be represented. But, the task now is for me to show the people around me who God really is, with the way I talk, the way I interact with others, and with the way I live my life. This is cliche, but you and I may be the only Bible people read. What are they seeing when they read you?

As much as God does not need us to prove He is God– He was God even before the beginning of time– He wants to partner with us to let everyone know who He is. I want people to know Jesus, to know God, to experience the power of the Holy Spirit intimately. Perhaps, then, the way it is being portrayed on our screens will be different. But beyond that, the true nature of God will be known by everyone!