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Shouldn’t We Keep The Pulpit Off Reality TV?

Submitted by on May 24, 2013 – 4:32 pmOne Comment

Mary MaryThe Sheards, and the ill-fated First Ladies of Atlanta all attempt to show the “real” lives of those whose life work is to share Christianity through music or through leading fully functional, multi-faceted ministries. However, none of them have gone as far as Oxygen’s next offering in Gospel based reality TV programming.

Pastors of LA focuses directly on the men - Deitrick HaddonWayne ChaneyJay HaizlipNoel JonesClarence McClendon, and Ron Gibson - who take the podium on Sundays, in an attempt to paint a more human portrait of the clergymen to its audience.

As someone raised in the Deep South with a strong Christian upbringing and countless days in churches all over these United States, I certainly understand that pastors are human. Furthermore, I understand how important it is for parishioners, Christians, and others to realize that as well. However, I do not think this message should be sent via reality television.

When people watch reality TV, they want something to gawk, gasp, and laugh at. Something that makes for great gossip and is absolutely unworthy of legitimacy and/or respect in most cases. Because there is a difference between humanizing a person and shaming him, I’m quite uncomfortable with the idea of the show. How long will it take before that line between humanization and humiliation is crossed?

I’m sure any of these guys would mention this as an opportunity to share Christianity with the world and to present an example to the masses. However, that doesn’t make for good reality TV. What might make for good TV is to misrepresent the messages and the audiences – making the men and the Gospel they preach into a spectacle.

For the sake of dignity, there should be a bit of separation and mystery to maintain a level of respect. Furthermore, these pastors have the perfect platform to present their human selves – the same pulpits they preach from. However, church isn’t necessarily designed to humble the pastors anymore. In fact, it does quite the opposite in many cases, exalting the pastor as a godlike figure while humbling everyone else. Reality television will bring more glory, fans, and controversy to those who should be bringing glory to God.

Finally, Christians, and certainly pastors are called to be holy – that is, set apart, distinguished from secular expectations/norms. These guys seem just as willing to expose their lives and walk into confrontational situations (which are bound to come) on TV as anyone else. Is Pastors of LA really anything more than a commodification of faith?

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