In just a few short weeks, ABC will launch a new mid-season series under the moniker GCB. Originally titled Good Christians Bitches, the series tells the story of Amanda Vaughn, a now-single, mother-of-two, who is forced to return home to Dallas, Texas after her marriage ends in a spectacularly public scandal. As a former high school bully, Vaughn hopes to rebuild her life through the assistance of her mother and the help of the local church. But as the title of the series not so subtly suggests, she is quickly given an education in the “true nature” of Christian women. In the words of Leslie Bibb, the lead actress:
“This show shines a light on people who say, “I go to church every Sunday, I’m a God-fearing person. [This show] is like, ‘Hey, y’all, let’s just look at what’s really going on.’”
Not surprisingly, last March, when the series was still in its formative stages, the Parents Television Council came out swinging. According to Tim Winter, the President of the PTC:
“The ‘B-word’ is toxic and is used to degrade, abuse, harass, bully and humiliate women. The ‘Christian’ element only adds insult to injury. Regardless of whether the title ultimately makes it to broadcast, ABC has publicly proclaimed its values and it has tarnished the Disney brand … Would ABC even consider another faith to denigrate? Would they even consider a program title or a plot line based on ‘Bitches’ who were Muslim, Hindu, Jewish or Buddhist? I suspect not, and I certainly hope not. So why the double standard?”
Now on the one hand, Winter makes an excellent point. For in American society, you do not see the widespread, open denigration of other faith groups in the same way that you see the media declare open season on Christianity. In fact, having a character profess belief in Jesus the Christ has almost become a lazy, shorthand way of setting that character up as the antagonist of a screenplay. But I’m not interested in talking about the unfair nature of negative stereotyping in the media. Instead, I am interested in talking about our reactions to such messaging. Consider, if you will, the words of the Christ as captured by the Apostle John in his Gospel:
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.”
Culture tells stories. Indeed, culture itself is a story. So should we be surprised that a secular company that is charged with the task of telling stories that make money denigrates Christianity? Absolutely not. Jesus told us to expect this sort of behavior. But here’s the thing. He didn’t simply say, “This is coming.” He also entrusted His apostles to tell us a little about how we should respond. And it is on this point that I want to turn your attention to the first letter penned by the Apostle Peter.
“Dear friends, do not be astonished that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in the degree that you have shared in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice and be glad.If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory,who is the Spirit of God, rests on you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or thief or criminal or as a troublemaker. But if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but glorify God that you bear such a name. For it is time for judgment to begin, starting with the house of God.
Now I want you to look very closely at the latter portion of that passage. It starts by reminding us that not all suffering is the result of unjust persecution. Some suffering is nothing more than the product of our own actions – our own hypocrisy. Some suffering is brought on by the fact that we claim the name of Christ, but act as if He has not given us a “spirit of power” that enables us to live lives that bring honor to His name.
So today, on the eve of the launch of Good Christian Bitches, I want to ask a question. Is society mocking us because of the exemplary way in which we bear witness to the love and sacrifice of Jesus the Christ? Or are we being mocked because of the hypocrisy the world sees in a church that wants to claim the name of Jesus while still holding on to some of the very behaviors that we are called to release?
While I can’t say that I will likely be a regular connoisseur of this program, part of me is grateful that it’s going to air. Part of me is grateful that society is holding a mirror up to the church, and is asking pointed, satirical – dare I say, prophetic – questions. For through questions comes self-examination, and through self-examination comes refinement and renewed commitment to Kingdom values.
So here’s to hoping that so long as Good Christian Bitches airs, we have the courage look at this portrait of our community. And here’s to hoping that through this ugly mirror, we, as Christians, might become more invested in telling better stories through our lives that are marked by humility, forgiveness, courage and a renewed commitment to justice.
 The title of the original source material was “Good Christian Bitches.” After the Parents Television Council submitted a petition with over 120,000 signatures to ABC, the title was changed to “Good Christians Belles” before eventually being changed again to “GCB.” New Zealand is the only market in which the show will be aired under its original title.