A God on True Blood?

Because I know I can't be the only one, I'll go first. Yes, I'm a Christian, and yes, I'm a fan of the HBO series True Blood. I know, I know: any good Christian worth her weight in salt (and light) has no business watching a show detailing the life of a small-town Southern waitress, her 200-year-old vampire boyfriend and a cast of characters that explores every deep (and very, very dark) corner of humanity. Sin is definitely in in this town, that's for sure; but we all have our guilty pleasures, and I'm a sucker (no pun intended) for good writing and plots that keep me on the edge of my seat.

But if ratings have anything to say about it, the show, currently in its second season, has become a bit more than just a guilty pleasure. It has become a window into our culture, painting an unforgiving picture of America. The show's characters are as vivid and as real as people you'd meet on the street. Choose an outcast, any outcast, and you'll find them: the gays, the alcoholics, the lonely, the divorced, the sex-addicted, the murderous, the not-so-bright. In short, the fictional Bon Temps, Louisiana, where True Blood takes place, is chock-full of the sort of people Jesus would've hung out with had He come down a few centuries later. And it holds nothing back: although highly entertaining, each episode is usually peppered through with graphic scenes of violence, sex, salty language and the creepy darkness of the vampire underworld. Oh, and, um, blood.

But the parts that made me most wary about the show didn't have to do with any of those things. They had to do with religion. When the storyline began to explore the fictional "Fellowship of the Sun" church, a non-denominational congregation focused on the annihilation of vampires, I instantly groaned.

"Here it comes," I cringed, "The same old boring, hurtful Hollywood caricatures lampooning all Christians as crazy, buttoned-up loons with a hatred of all things not like them."

And to some extent, the show played into it: most of the second season followed one of the main characters, Jason Stackhouse, as he joined the Fellowship of the Sun; and the viewer was met with the stereotypical, zealous young pastor and his beautiful perfect-package wife. They were wealthy, vain, and through their blinding-white, smiling teeth parroted the same black-or-white thinking many American churches embrace: either you're for us, or against us. No mercy unless you conform to our standards; otherwise, pack a mighty fine sunscreen in your casket, because it's Hell for you for the rest of eternity. In their eyes, and the eyes of the congregation, there was no room for compassion, no room for understanding. It was their way—which they were so certain was God's way—or the highway. If you weren't perfect, the church was not for you.

The more on-screen time the fictional Fellowship got the worse I felt, because I saw so much of what people really perceive Christians as today: fake, plastic people who use Jesus' name to push their own agendas, ones usually against anything Jesus would've preached about (and violently, if necessary). In one instance, Fellowship members aim to preserve human rights by threatening to ignite a vampire alive by setting it directly in the sun; in another, one of its members becomes a suicide bomber and detonates himself in a vampire's home, killing some and wounding more, all in the name of Jesus. Sound familiar?

So imagine my surprise when one of the most Christ-like characters on TV in recent history happened to not only show up on True Blood, he also happened to be a vampire. A 2,000+ year old vampire named Godric, to be more specific, who evolved from his start as a bloodthirsty, savage warrior into a docile, merciful pacifist who mournfully laments the inability of vampires and humans to peacefully coexist. Godric is old enough to have remembered Jesus; and although he admits he never met Him, he exhibits the same Christ-like traits of mercy, understanding, compassion, and self-sacrifice. It is through this character that the real message of Christianity—love—is exhibited; and made me the happiest viewer this side of the Mason-Dixon.

"Yes," I thought, "Finally. This is how I would describe Jesus to someone who'd never met Him: someone who had seen destruction and was bone-tired of the pain it caused; someone who was merciful, someone who pardoned in the name of love and forgiveness. Someone who saw both sides of an issue, but ultimately—and with compassion—stood up for what was right, even if he wasn't understood." His character stayed with me long after his story arc did (no spoilers here!), perhaps because it was such an affirmation of what I have believed about Jesus my whole life.

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And by and large, True Blood viewers liked him. Internet message boards lit up with Godric sympathizers, viewers who agreed with his points of view and how he handled himself around vicious characters (both vampire and human) who couldn't see past their own bloodthirsty desires to destroy everything—and everyone—around him. It reminded me of those people who respect Jesus and what He preached, but can't stand His church because of what they've witnessed through His followers.

So is Hollywood finally getting it? The message that Christianity can exist in those gray areas of life where black-and-white simply can't cut it? Maybe. Maybe not. I can say, with full confidence, that True Blood is not a Christian show. But Christians—real Christians, like you and I—know that Jesus shows His face where we sometimes least expect: in line at the supermarket, in the homeless man outside of church and even on HBO.

Top Comments


Janie commented…

"Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She replied, "No one, sir." Then Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more." [Gospel according to John.]

I've never seen the show, but I'm glad to hear of any TV program that comes along and provokes good thinking born from coupling intelligence with insight from among its viewers. Many fundamental Christians, and I speak very generally, seem to have this fear that any other Christian who watches a program not up to their own standards won't survive the hour before being sent directly to Hell from their couches (with remote in hand). These people tend to forget that all Christians know how to think and interpret on their own, just like any other human creature - religious, or non - the Lord they believe in gave all human beings this capability. Christians know how to change a channel, too, if they want to, and because I am a Christian and a believer in The One Triune God, I have faith and trust in the All-Merciful and Almighty God that I won't go to Hell for watching a TV show with some (pick your adjective) content. It's everywhere! There ain't no hiding from questionable content. It's how one responds to the content that's important.

The ones responding are the most verbal. "Hollywood" hears them and can pretty much say (or goof on) anything they want to and, yes, media ends up stereo-typing all Christians. It's up to people like the writer of this particular article to begin to set things straight. It's up to all Christians (or people of any religion being stereotyped in a hurtful manner) to speak up. I would go so far as to say that Christians, in particular, must speak up, because doing so invokes activism on the issue, and the Christian is called to be an activist, for they are called to be like Christ.

Jesus didn't place Himself in any type of protective environment, so why should we? This is where "Hollywood" gets its fuel on which it capitalizes. What, if an adult Christian watches a TV program that has some curses, raunchy sex, vampires - and, apparantly, a lot of blood! - he or she will crumble into a fragile non-rational, unable-to-think-or-interpret bag of hapless nerves and is bound for hell? That's all we hear about Christianity in the mass media today, because that's what certain Christians believe and say via the same medium! Here's an alternative viewpoint in agreement with the text of this article:

The Person Who is the faith of any true Christian arose, quite literally, right out from under Death itself after losing a whole lot of blood. Let's get real. Like He was. I'm left to thinking, ... did Jesus' own mother protect Him from anything? So since when did Christianity become so prissy? And so easy to stereotype?

Jesus didn't become a human being to place blinders on our eyes or to avoid any unsightly words, sights and sounds. He didn't become a human being to monitor what we'd watch on something called a TV 2000 years hence. He is the ultimate Activist. He became a human being to change the world, to enlighten us, and to show us the way - He, Who IS the Way. He calls us to do what He did, and to serve others, and if we pick up an insight or two from ANY MEDIUM in a free society, that could help us do that, then, hey, that's great.

It used to be that all of the stuff viewed in a show like "True Blood" was strictly and absolutely forbidden (any expletive stronger than 'darn!')so as not to offend the senses. It blows my mind! Now, anything goes in the media, except respectful portrayal of religion.

"Hollywood" will shell out more of the same if rationally-minded yet strong Christians remain either verbally, or by written word, inactive. Perhaps inactivity is getting boring, maybe being an activist is more challenging and fulfilling. When that happens, maybe Hollywood will hear it. Maybe it will even, one day, get it.

Josh J.: "...but can I be a Christ-like husband with respect for my wife AND watch content like that? Seriously, I'd like an answer."

Is your wife an adult? Of course she is. She can handle content. Your question may be answered by the posit of another: Have you and your wife ever sat down to watch the nightly News together, either world and local? Does doing so make you less a Christ-like husband with less respect for his wife than the day he married her? Of course not! What's portrayed is a lot worse than fiction(no matter how x-rated)!

Great article!



Cindyhelmoski commented…

I loved this artical. I am to a christian and love True Blood. It has opened so many doors for me. I have witnessed to unbelievers because of it, I have sold my art and donated to causes, i have made life long friends, and it crosses the gender and age lines. I have friends that 18 up to 60. I crosses the generation gap. I hope AB reads this and see how much he has touched people and enriched our lives. God Bless you for this artical. A fellow christian said I was bringing demons in my house and made me question my relationship with god because of her hurtful comments. She was a christian. I avoid her now cause her reply to me. I hope people will see the good in it and see that vampires are not minions of the devil.
Love the bible verse one of my faves.


Savage commented…

If it wasn't for the sex, cursing, and constant pagan referenc. I'm sure more Christians would watch. Theyre one of the most blood thirst lots to walk the earth.


So_laugh commented…

You've made a good point, however, my problem with the show is how is glorifies the dark side of spirituality. They can throw in a Godric character to appease Christians, but in reality it makes the dark side seem fun and exciting. When the witches are casting spells, bringing animals to life, and a woman is possessed, it's as if it's no big deal. Possession is real, spiritual powers are real. As humans (Christians especially) we are in a spiritual war, more so than a physical one, so I don't like that the show for those reasons.

I just personally can't watch it anymore


Kate commented…

I guess you stopped at season 5. :D


fallenstar commented…

It's bad enough that all of us compromise including myself. It becomes sad when we try and justify it. I, and many of us are becoming blind to our sin and following our flesh and what makes it feel good. I pray we all wake up soon. I know I need to. I knew a person who was not following God at the time and said he could not watch the show because it felt too much like a porno. And this person watched a lot of garbage and loved vampires. We need to find what it means to fear the lord again.

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