CBS's 'The Good Wife' Takes on Jesus from Both Sides

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  • The Good Wife
    (Photo: CBS)
    Still of Julianna Margulies, Titus Welliver and Michael Ealy in "The Good Wife."
By Sheryl Young, Christian Post Contributor
March 16, 2011|10:33 pm

Julianna Margulies is nearing the end of her second season as Alicia Florrick on CBS’s “The Good Wife.” In its 2009 premier, Margulies channeled the real-life stoic composure of political wives like Elizabeth Edwards and Silda Spitzer.

We’ve all seen it – the dutiful wife standing alongside her famous husband at the podium as he addresses charges of criminal activity or voices regret over a revealed affair.

“The Good Wife” garners continuous accolades as a political/courtroom drama and is a shoo-in for a third season. Margulies captures viewers’ hearts as a lawyer who works full time while raising teenagers and dealing with the press – first during her husband’s imprisonment on criminal charges during his term as assistant district attorney, and then with the repercussions of his sexual infidelity.

But there’s one storyline not getting much publicity coverage. That’s the series’ handling of Jesus. It’s done from various angles, not always slamming Christianity in traditional Hollywood fashion.

In Season One, upon his release to house arrest, Peter Florrick (actor Chris Noth) begins seeing a pastor for spiritual advice. Peter is not a Christian, but Pastor Isaiah, an African American pastor, counsels him in how he could have a better life through Christ.

Whether or not CBS intended it, there is biblical content in the script that could be considered Christian “witnessing” in a good way. We see Peter and Pastor Isaiah praying together, with the pastor using biblically correct words.

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On the contrary, a struggle is shown between Peter, his wife Alicia and his domineering mother. Both women object to Peter drawing closer to the church. Without offering a reason, they become agitated at the mere mention of Christian faith.

In Season Two, Peter is found innocent of criminal activity. He decides to run for district attorney against his back-stabbing D.A. boss who put him in jail and “outed” his affair.

Pastor Isaiah endorses Peter, but is facing his own struggle. The African American clerical community is pressuring him to stop supporting Peter for two reasons: because of Peter’s recent past and because they want Isaiah to support one of their own race, a woman running against Peter as a third candidate.

This puts the group of clergy in a bad light except for Isaiah, who reminds them about forgiveness and reconciliation. He sticks to his guns supporting Peter, who has not yet turned his life over to Christ.

More spiritual problems surface for Alicia. While she struggles between succumbing to her desires for a man in her office or allowing Peter to share her bed again, she finds that their daughter, Grace, has become best friends with a young supposedly Christian girl. This girl influences Grace to seek a path portrayed as stereotypical “fanatic” Christianity.

Grace views an internet video with a young man saying Jesus called for anarchy and told people to hate their families.

While Luke 14:26 records Jesus saying “whoever does not hate his father, mother, wife and children and his own life for my sake cannot be my disciple,” this “hate” is generally interpreted as meaning a Christ follower must love Jesus more than their own families, not actually hate them.

Jesus didn’t advise anarchy. When questioned whether a person should pay taxes, he advised the people to “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and God what is God’s” (Matthew 22:21). The apostle Paul advised new believers to obey government officials because they were placed in power by God (Romans 13:1).

When daughter Grace asks Alicia why she wouldn’t want her to become a Christian, Alicia says, “because Christianity is becoming a minority.” It appears the writers left this to be taken either way – as a mother’s protective instinct or as a direct hit on the faith.

Season Two is nearing its end. It remains to be seen whether introducing the young “Christian anarchist” means CBS will continue “The Good Wife’s” two-sided treatment of Christianity or go for a stauncher anti-Christian stance.

 

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