Thursday, October 22, 2015

Christianity and the Small Screen: FBI Files

When I was a teenager I would regularly watch The FBI Files on the Discovery Channel. I loved the show. I have always had an interest in true crime stories and am particularly interested in how authorities "crack the case." Being that these stories actually happened, I always found myself intrigued.

Years later, while exploring various shows on Netflix I saw they offered 30 episodes of the FBI Files. The full show is seven seasons and number well over 100 episodes. So what Netflix offers is but a fraction. Nevertheless, these thirty episodes offer a good sample of the overall tone of the show and is worth commenting on.

One of the effects on me after watching the show was anxiety. The FBI Files portrays everyday families in safe neighbors getting abducted, robbed, and murdered. Strangers, romantic partners, family members, and friends are all guilty culprits in the show. The show frequently portrays the victims of the crime as the most innocent people on the earth.

This caused me to double check our security system at our house and lock doors every night. I even noticed myself staring down people who walked by our house throughout the day. I don't want to sound like I was on edge, but realizing that right now as you read this people are suffering at the hands of others. This leads to two thoughts.

First, the security we enjoy is a blessing but is not absolute. Innocent people suffer. At any moment our lives can change dramatically. Whether it be the result of some heinous crime often portrayed on The FBI Files or through some other crisis, security is not absolute. If you are reading this in the safety of your home without fear of danger, you are lucky indeed. As such we have much to be thankful for.

Scripture is clear that the state's primary role is to protect its citizens. One of the ways Caesar does this is through law enforcement. It is striking how often the FBI agents would speak of the victims and their families in affectionate terms - almost as if they had known them all their lives. The show highlights the genuine concern on the part of law enforcement of stopping at nothing to keep their communities safe. We are safe tonight because people put their lives in the line to keep us safe. Let us be thankful for them.

Secondly, this world is dark and full of wicked people. Christianity affirms the Fall of humanity. In us is a wicked creature. The FBI Files feature criminals with various motivations behind their crimes. None of them are justified. All of their crimes were evil. Yet such a show would not exist if it were not so common. We live in a very wicked world where wicked men and women murder, torture, abduct, rape, and harm others.

If you deny the doctrine of sin or believe that inside the heart of every person is goodness, then a show like this will suggest otherwise. Humans do great things yet we can just as easily commit horrendous acts of injustice against the innocent.

It is here we must emphasize Jesus. He entered into our dark world as the Light. In our darkness we crucified the Light but his resurrection ensured that Light has and will win.

In the end, I pray that the church is present in each moment of tragedy whether portrayed on a TV documentary show or not. The gospel brings comfort and provides answers for those trapped in crime or the victims of it. It is our job to take the Light into the darkest corners. Let us be sure we are doing that.

Below is an episode of The FBI Files. This one regards the hunt for the Unibomber.

For more:
Christianity and the Small Screen: "Smallville"
Christianity and the Small Screen: Fox's "House, M. D."
Christianity and the Small Screen: NBC's "Crisis"
Christianity and the Small Screen: FBI Files 
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