The Gospel in Dexter

Dexter Season 1

I’ve been watching the first season of a television series called Dexter. It’s a pretty interesting show, basic premise is that the main character, Dexter, is a blood spatter analyst for the Miami Police Dept. who moonlights as a serial killer of other serial killers (those who have slipped by the normal judiciary system). It’s an interesting story with some very likable and deep characters and relationships – but the point I want to draw out isn’t discussing the ethics of vigilantism, the downfalls of the US justice system, etc.

What I’ve found very interesting is that facets of the Gospel keep poking their head up in the storyline. Dexter has these base compulsions to kill, he can’t help it he’s drawn to these vile acts, and he spends much of his time contemplating his next victim’s end. He’s this monstrous creature (total depraved) who lives under the guise of a likable lab rat who gets along splendidly with most everyone and goes at extreme lengths to hide who he really is underneath from all of those closest to him (sound familiar?). Now his murderous desires are not quite utterly expressed, he has much restraint as his father raised up in him the values to only kill those who really deserve to die (a sort of law given him to try to hold back the whelming flood of evil inside him).

So this total depraved sinner is walking around the world pretending that nothing is wrong. He’s almost gotten caught a couple of times, and his growing intimacy with his girlfriend is starting to chip away at self-imposed masked attempts at a “normal life.” It’s actually through this intimacy with his girlfriend that I think a very obvious analogy to the Gospel shines through, albeit an imperfect one. He’s scared that after a very close and “face to face” encounter with his girlfriend where he is literally “naked and unashamed” (while Dexter isn’t very different than other shows in giving free reign to open sexual relationships – I really appreciate that the show does put a lot of emphasis on the true “nakedness” of sex, and not in bodily nakedness only, but that of complete openness and removal of all “masks”- but I digress), that she would have seen him for who he really is, get freaked out and instantly want nothing more to do with him. It’s in this moment that she says, “Dexter, there is nothing you could do that would scare me off.”

The girlfriend (and the flashbacks to Dexter’s foster father), show this Gospel relationship that says, “I’ll love you no matter what, no matter who you are.” Even in the midst of a totally base and depraved life, Dexter has those around him who are trying to remove the masks, to show him that he is not beyond their love. I have yet to finish the season, and maybe these similarities with the Gospel will fall apart, and even so far it’s been a very imperfect connection, however, it’s still very interesting to see this appeal and need to want to be truly known and truly loved even while we feel we are beyond the limits of love. Romans 5:8 “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” 5:10 “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.”

~ by veniatregnum on July 16, 2008.

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