Written by Evi Idoghor
When the show The Chosen first aired, many people (majority Christians) praised it. I recall a good friend calling and telling me, "You have to watch this show." I'm not sure if I was excited to jump on this bandwagon or not, but I remember giving it a shot. As is my habit these days, I usually fall asleep after a few minutes.
The show didn’t really grab my attention – not that I believed that it was a poorly done show; there's just something about retelling biblical stories that makes me think it's a slippery slope if the storytellers don't stick to the original script.
I remember watching the series, The Bible, in 2013. The scene that was supposed to be about Jesus telling Peter to let down his net (Luke 5:4-9) after he had toiled all night without catching any fish, was depicted as Jesus putting his hands in the water to guide the fish into the net. Thereby missing out on the opportunity to show the audience how powerful Jesus' words are. The show was literally titled - The Bible, and they still managed to go off script. What would have happened if it was just portrayed the way it was written? Abi that one for no sweet?
My personal sentiments aside; some non-believers have proclaimed to have come to know Christ through the show, while some Christians who know about the show are divided on the authenticity of it. Because for example, the person who portrays Jesus believes in some practices that are anti-biblical.
Something happened recently that sparked a debate in the United States. This was before "Pride" month began, during which members of the LGBT community demonstrated why they were proud to be who they were. To commemorate the occasion, lewd pride parades were held across the country. Some of the parades had naked men riding bikes, with children among those who came out to see them.
For children, drag queen story hour were organized across the nation where you had drag queens (some scantily clad) reading story books to children. Companies hired trans influencers to promote their products, and retail stores displayed their best pride attire and products for adults (and children) to shop. Indeed, if your company/organization did not appear to be celebrating Pride Month, you were in for it.
Among all of this, most people became so fed up with the display of sin and mockery of the Christian faith that they began to protest and push back. In fact, the "Sisters" of Perpetual Indulgence openly mocked Christ's death on the cross by having a man twerk upside down on another man who was tied to a cross. All of this was done in ignorance and defiance of the living God and what he did for us on that same cross they mocked.
So, before all of these commenced, a behind-the-scenes photo/video of The Chosen's set surfaced online. It showed cameras and people dressed in their costumes performing their roles. What is so controversial about that? One might ask. A small "pride" flag mounted on the ground was also visible in the photograph. Many Christians questioned, "What is a pride flag doing on the set of a show that is supposed to be about Jesus?"
Other Christians chastised their Christian brothers and sisters for being too reactionary, claiming that a pride flag appearing on the set of the Christian show did not detract from the gospel. Due to the uproar, the production company for the show was forced to release a statement in which they said:
“Just like with our hundreds of cast and crew who have different beliefs (or no belief at all) than we do, we will work with anyone who helps us portray or honor the authentic Jesus. We ask that audiences let the show speak for itself and focus on the message, not the messenger because we’ll always let you down.”
Why having a Symbol for Sin on a Christian Show is Problematic
The above statement left me wondering – how does someone who is so prideful about their sinful lifestyle (that is if they even believe it to be sinful) which the bible clearly condemns (as with all sins) able to show others an authentic Christ? What is the primary goal of the show, if those on set cannot simply honor what is written? You see, it is impossible to separate God from his word. John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Being a Christian show, the number one goal is to honor Jesus. When it comes to the sin of homosexuality and its variants, the bible is clear on where it stands. So, such a picture displaying a “pride” flag on set sends a misleading message to three groups of people. (1) those who don’t believe, (2) those who are new converts and who perhaps struggled with the sin of homosexuality and pride. (3) those who are Christians who are now unsure of where the show stands. 1 Corinthians 8, though addressing the issue of food being offered to idols, can be used to address this situation.
Paul says in verse 13, after addressing if Christians should eat food that are offered to idols (because we don’t believe idols to have any power) and he concluded with this: “Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.” As a Christ follower, be sure not to use your liberty in Christ to mislead others.
This is not to say that Christians shouldn’t work with unbelievers; and I honestly do not know who the flag belonged to and what role he/she plays in production. However, to honor the authentic Christ in what is supposed to be a Christian setting, when asked if such a flag can be planted, one can simply say - no, because of what we believe and who we represent, we cannot have that flag on set since it goes against the word of God and we don’t want to cause others to stumble. This is not meant to be cruel or discriminatory; rather, it is meant to demonstrate that Christ takes precedence over everything in the life of the believer.
As Christians, we cannot change what is written. In fact, we do unbelievers or sinners a disservice when we accommodate their sins. That way, we show them that God doesn’t require them to let go of their sinful lifestyle to follow him. Jesus in Matthew 16:24 says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
The display of that flag demonstrates that the individual didn’t have to deny who they were to be on that set. And according to the statement they released, the person was supposed to help them portray Jesus in his entirety. Its either the producers of the show don’t really understand who God is, or they believe that they are more empathetic and loving than Christ. If the latter were true, I have yet to see any of them sacrifice their only son for anyone – God was the only one who did so, and as such, we can never love anyone more than he does them.
I'll conclude by saying that, while I haven't seen an entire episode of The Chosen and can't tell you what it's about or if Christ is truly portrayed as Christ, the news that has emerged from the show doesn't give me confidence that the full truth is being captured. It can be likened to someone taking their time to write a memoir about a life-changing experience, and for whatever reason, when that story which once captivated its readers, makes its way to the big screen, it becomes completely different. And thus, losing its message.
As with any other form of entertainment, even with the seemingly Christian ones, we must be mindful of what we consume and stay grounded in God's word. Ephesians 4:14 says, “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.”
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