Why America Loves “Scandal” (and why that’s a problem)

Americans have a new obsession on Thursday nights—it’s ABC’s hit drama, “Scandal.” The show stars Kerry Washington as “Olivia,” a former White House Communications Director who quit at the end of season one to diffuse mounting public perception issues around the scandalous affair she was having with the President of the United States. The President, “Fitz” or Fitzgerald Grant, is keeping up the public face with his wife whom he has gotten pregnant to hide the affair with Olivia while secretly longing to be with Olivia. The Chief of Staff, “Cyrus” is a gay man whose husband works as a member of the press and covers the Oval Office. Cyrus is a self-described “political monster” who has murdered a man in the line of duty and is part of a voter-fraud scheme that stole the Presidential election, and only a handful of people know about.

“Scandal” is praised for its daring and cleverly disguised plot lines. The shows cast is interestingly quirky and openly flawed and over 4 million people are tuning in each week. To get an appreciation for the reach of the show, consider this Facebook post that a publicist buddy recently posted on Facebook:

Met a young girl last night who was so excited to meet me because her friend wants to pursue PR. She said “my friend wants to be like…what’s that show…the woman on Scandal!”  

Which brings me to the point of this post…

Is “Scandal” right or wrong?

“Scandal” sends the message that everyone is bad—everyone has secrets, everyone is flawed and almost anything can be “fixed”. Certainly, all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). To see that portrayed on television makes each of us feel a little better about our selves. After all, we reason, I’m not having an affair with the President or trying to cover-up the murder of innocent people. Seeing outrageously wicked lives from the heroes of the show makes life at home seem a little less crazy and affirms our own personal moralities.

But, that kind of thinking is so wrong. The Bible says that when we judge our lives by looking at others, we are foolish. To make Olivia Pope or our own consciences the standard by which we judge, is to fall into the first sin all over again—pride. Pride says, “I will be like God.”  And we all know, God gets to set the rules. When we take it upon ourselves to choose the standards that we will live by, then we are our own God. It’s kind of heavy, but true.

If you’re looking for a better story, a better fixer and a more noble leader, check out 1 Corinthians 1:23 where it reads:

but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,

That word translated “stumbling block” is “skandalon” in Greek. Sound familiar? The most scandalous story ever told is that an all-powerful, Creator God would actually become a lowly man, live among his sinful and rebellious creations then DIE in their place, for their sins and be raised again from the dead by His own power. Ludicrous right!?! But, unlike Shonda Rhimes’ skillfully written script, God’s story is a real one with a real hero and a real fixer—Jesus.

Should you stop watching “Scandal?” I’m not God so I can’t say but I do know that you should guard your heart by carefully inspecting everything you let in your ear gates and eye gates. Just like you carefully inspect the food you put in your mouth, carefully inspect the ideas you allow to shape and mold your spirit. After all, you are not to be conformed (made to fit) to the mindsets, patterns and moral expectations our world sets for us.

Give your scandalous life to Jesus and he will give you a remarkably true tale of grace—of scandalously epic proportions.

About the Author

 Roland Hairston loves God and loves people. He wrestles with ideas about life, faith, leadership and church and wields strategy, technology and communications to move people to action. As Publisher of Gospel Today, Roland has the joy of bringing information, inspiration, education and empowerment to thousands with each issue.