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Can we declare holy war on the commercials? doesn’t elevate dating to holy heights by bringing God into the picture. It belittles God because it uses him to try to baptize what amounts to an online version of The Bachelor.

The whole concept of God taking time out from his busy schedule to match you with the that one perfect person for you is no different from athletes actually expecting God to intervene so they can win.

And isn’t it a bit–I don’t know–childishly self-centered, infuriatingly stupid, utterly non-sensical, to expecting God to steer you to that one special someone, your perfect match, when there are men and women across the world praying that God will:

  • relieve them from starvation,
  • keep the rapists out of the village,
  • take the disease away,
  • give them children,
  • stop their depressed, suicidal, or anxious thoughts
  • give them a job, any job,
  • afford medicine,
  • etc., etc., etc.,

but the suffering continues anyway?

Yes, those looking for companionship should trust God to give them wisdom and discernment. I’m not cutting God out of the picture. I’m just saying he doesn’t act on cue because a match-making website implies that he does, provided you fill out the right forms and have a valid credit card.

Embarrassing western self-absorbtion. God molded to our image.

O.K. Now I feel better.

Anyway, as for the second episode….generally speaking, it was bad.

One a 1-10 scale–with 1 being “I hate it so much I want to pry my own eyes out of my sockets” and 10 being “Jesus himself couldn’t have done this good a job,” I’m coming in at about a 2. I’m willing to adjust upward .5 to allow for the fact that I am not their target audience. But still, today was tedious and…what’s a good synonym for tedious?

Some things I noticed when I wasn’t dozing off.

  • Joshua is short
  • They placed the Philistines 100 years after Joshua. Since the Philistine landed in Canaan around 1200 BC, the means the producers hold to the late date of the Exodus (If you need to ask, trust me, you wouldn’t care).
  • They spent way too much time on Samson, but it became clear why: they are making him into a Christ figure. Samson gave himself up for his people in accordance with God’s will; he is chained to cross of wood; Delilah betrays Samson to the authorities for money and then feels guilty about it;¬†his mother grieves for him at his death.
  • I think the choice of focusing on Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jacob, and now portraying Samson as a Christ figure–and leaving out Jacob and Joseph–suggests that they are emphasizing OT figures commonly thought to prefigure Christ.
  • Samson’s first wife was met with disapproval by his mother, but he claimed that his love for the Philistine woman was God’s doing–which looked too much like a commercial to me. (I can’t let this go, can I?)
  • I have no more idea why they made Samson black than I do why they made Noah Scottish
  • David looks like Clive Owen

Apart from all the many things you could pick on in this TV series, there is a bigger issue that comes to mind.

As I imagine people watching this show–maybe people unfamiliar with the Bible–I wonder if they are asking themselves, “What kind of God is this, and do I really want anything to do with him?”

And the hard part to explain is that the biblical episodes that the show more often than not gets right than wrong are those parts that depict the Israelites as tribal zealots whose God kills their enemies.

I’m sure this is unintentional, but did you catch the scene depicting the Philistine general praying to his god that he would deliver the Israelites into his hand so he could wipe them out? The Philistines and the Israelites are both portrayed as warring tribes who want to rule by violent means with the ¬†approval an support of their god.

Anyway, I’ve pretty much checked out at this point. I will likely watch the rest to see how they handle Jesus, but my bar is set about as low as it can be.

Pete Enns, Ph.D.

Peter Enns (Ph.D., Harvard University) is Abram S. Clemens professor of biblical studies at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. He has written numerous books, including The Bible Tells Me So, The Sin of Certainty, and How the Bible Actually Works. Tweets at @peteenns.