The new ABC TV series “Good Christian Belles” or “GCB” originated from a book by Kim Gatlin, entitled “Good Christian Bitches”. ABC intended to air the series under its original name, but came under fire from several of its affiliates as well as a few women’s organizations, and so they renamed the show to something they considered less offensive. However, they stuck to the theme of Gatlin’s book, which follows the lives of professing Christian women who, in spectacular fashion, demonstrate they are anything but.
It goes without saying that had ABC substituted another category of women for the show – take your pick – “Muslim”, “Jewish”, “Lesbian”, etc., the show would have never seen the light of day. Predictably, though, some secular humanists are calling Christians who object to the series whiners, although one wonders how they would feel to have something they cherish mocked in such a way.
But this worldview that claims to cherish respect and tolerance and yet is blind to disrespect and intolerance aimed at those who don’t share its beliefs is to be expected. As noted Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias observes, "Is it not odd that whenever it has power, liberalism is anything but liberal, both in the area of religion and politics?"
But let’s look beyond this double standard and give some serious attention as to why shows like GCB appear in the first place.
By Your Standard of Measure…
In his book “Unchristian”, researcher and Barna group president David Kinnaman surveyed a wide U.S. demographic (those born between 1965 and 2002, which make up approximately 77% of the population) of non-Christians and found that only 3% had a positive impression of evangelical Christians. Asked why they viewed Christians so negatively, 85% said it was because they believed that Christians were hypocrites; that they professed one thing and lived another.
Just like the characters of Good Christian Belles.
Now, the question to ask is: are those surveyed by Kinnaman correct? Is the evangelical Christian community, by and large, one that is hypocritical in the things that it says and does? If it is, then it’s not surprising that we get openly called out by the world via things like ABC’s TV series. We can expect those in the world to assume the place of God in the statement made by Jesus, “By your standard of measure, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:2), and react negatively when they perceive a mismatch in the Christian’s talk and walk.
The Biblical Mandate
So, just what is our standard in this area? Not surprisingly, the one showcased by Christ Himself. When Jesus was illegally put on trial by His opponents, they had a very tough time in one particular and crucial area: finding something with which to charge Him. Matthew tells us, “Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death. They did not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward” (Matthew 26:59-60).
Jesus came through His trials absolutely squeaky clean where His character was concerned. The rest of the New Testament holds this out as our standard as well, with just a few examples being:
“Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us” (Titus 2:6–8).
“Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom” (James 3:13).
“Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12).
“But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame” (1 Peter 3:15–16).
What happens when the Church doesn’t do this? We get tattooed by shows like Good Christian Belles, and God’s name is trampled on; something Paul talks about when he says: “You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal? You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God? For "THE NAME OF GOD IS BLASPHEMED AMONG THE GENTILES BECAUSE OF YOU," just as it is written” (Romans 2:21-24).
To be sure, the Church gets slandered and lied about on a regular basis, with the work of real saints being conveniently and consistently overlooked by the world. But if we’re to be honest, we sometimes get the treatment we deserve because we fail to follow Christ’s example and forget that, while many in the world won’t read the first four gospels in the New Testament, they definitely read the fifth gospel, which is the life that we live before them.
The atheistic philosopher Frederick Nietzsche once remarked, “I’ll believe in the Redeemer when the Christians look a little more redeemed.” Whether we like it or not, he’s got a point. Ravi Zacharias explains: "How do you communicate with a generation that listens with its eyes and thinks with its feelings? You will need an apologetic that is not merely heard, but is also seen. If my Christian life is not visible to my neighbor, no amount of prophetic utterance is going to convince that neighbor that Christianity is true. Is your life in private that which you claim in public?”
Ravi’s statement is very Biblical. When Paul came to the people of Thessalonica, he explains how he brought the gospel to them in this way: “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake” (1 Thessalonians 1:5). Don’t miss that last part – Paul lived out Christ before them and “proved” among them the truth of the message he carried via the life he displayed each and every day in their midst.
Make no mistake – I don’t like Good Christian Belles at all. But I think it can serve as something we can learn from. As we protest the new ABC series, let us also look at ourselves, remember Jesus’ moral example, and recall the simple truth He gave us that would stop shows like this from ever appearing in the first place: "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 15:16).