Preaching Criminal Minds

After watching 5 seasons of Criminal Minds this summer (yeah really… I had been off TV for the previous 2 years, and I’m not sure how this happened… maybe it was my back injury… maybe it was sloth… regardless, I’ve gone cold turkey again), I’m now planning on preaching the show on Sunday.

As usual, the first exegetical question I’m asking is, ‘What is it about this show that so intrigues viewers/me/made-in-the-image-of- God human beings?’  Like all crime shows, our innate yearning for justice, is a big motivator.  We live in a messed up world where bad things happen and we long for someone to take control, make sense of it, solve the mystery, to stop the bad guy, and to restore peace and safety again.  “Fairy tales do not tell children that dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be killed.” G.K. Chesterton, Season 3, 7 Seconds.  God is a dragon slaying God.

But what in particular does this show teach us about ourselves?  Criminal Minds is unique in terms of it’s deep exploration of the human psyche.  What does it’s unique formula say about who we are?  About who God is?   One answer that comes to mind, for me, is that we’re all a mix of good and evil – even heinous evil…  that caught in the right circumstance , any one of us could do terrible things.  To me Criminal Minds allows us to explore our deep dark side, to better understand how alive sin is within us, and how powerful it can be.  By looking evil straight in the face, we see things we’d rather not know, and yet need to know.  “Nothing is easier than to denounce the evil doer; Nothing more difficult than understanding him.”Fyodor Dostoevsky, Season 3, 7 seconds

I think this will be one of the angles I take on Sunday.  But what do you think?  And as you consider the  show/genre, what Bible stories/ scriptural truths come to mind?  How does the truth in  Criminal Minds connect to the Bible’s truth?  And lastly, what does the truth that Criminal Minds exposes about who we are, teach us about who God is?   Big questions on the nature of evil for this weekend –  the 10th Anniversary of 9/11.

5 thoughts on “Preaching Criminal Minds

  1. Lesa L. Tatum

    Why do I watch the show? I’m addicted because it relates to my profession. I ‘m a qualified professional in mental health. I have extensive experience working with individuals with mental illness and mental retardation. Many of the Unsubs on the show are individuals with mental illness or at least a medical condition related to their mental illness. It’s just not a show that details evil people who do evil things but people who have more extensive issues and problems. The show has highlighted Unsubs who committed crimes while off their medication or because they have not been treated for their mental illness, some Unsubs commit crimes based on their lack of adjustment to society or a trauma that has been experienced some time in their lives especially during their childhood. What I like about the show is that the team just doesn’t say “ Oh they’re crazy “, they explain to the viewer what made the Unsub do this or act this way or commit this murder. The show makes you think and that is something I have found that most people either can’t do or won’t do. The writers don’t talk over your head but they don’t dumb down the dialogue either. I also watch Investigation Discovery channel but they tell the specifics of the crimes not what the Unsub is thinking or why they committed the crimes. CM does a better job of this and many of the true stories from ID and other channels are used in many of the crime dramas.
    What does the show teach us about ourselves. It shows us that individuals are not copies of each other and what makes us different is not how we look as much as it is how we think. I think that CM does show a nature vs nurture issue when it come to how individuals behave towards each other. It should make people more aware of how they raise their children and how they relate to other individuals.
    What does it say about God? I may be different from the other posts you get but I don’t think it says anything about God. The show is very respectful of the feelings of people of all faiths. If it shows us anything it shows us how incredible diverse He made the species we call man. St Thomas More said that” man was meant to love God not only in his heart and soul but in the tangle of his mind”. Think about it, God created us with the most developed brain of all of His creations. By using that brain and knowing the behavior of man these profilers are catching criminals who thought they would never be caught. It shows us how man has used his mind to create technology to solve these crimes. What does the show tell us about the nature of evil? I think it shows us that we are all capable of committing evil acts but I think what each of us considers to be evil is different. We are taught “ thou shall not kill” but it is really “ thou shall not murdrer”. You may think it is wrong to kill but my perspective may be different based on many things. I would never plan a murder and carry it out, but I would kill someone who attacked me to protect my life or to protect the life of someone else.
    What bible scriptures or bible truths come to mind when I watch the show? (luke 8:17)For nothing is secret that shall not be made manifest; neither anything hid, that shall not be known and come abroad. Or how about what Shakespeare wrote: “Truth will out”. Many of the Unsubs think that they are too smart to be caught or that they can fool the police. Technology is being used everyday in forensic science to bring the truth to the light.

  2. Sharon

    You were off t.v. for two years? WOW. (i already posted my comments on criminal minds….it”s proof positive that satan exists.

    WOW no t.v………

  3. JVS Post author

    I like this Natasha. Great insight. Thanks. Our image-bearing minds are made to work in a certain way (even as they’re broken). And if our minds reflect something of the mind of God, then wouldn’t they be one of the best places through which to find truth? CM’s deep exploration of brokeness leads us to a deeper understanding of what a human mind/being is meant to be, thereby giving us a clearer creational lens to look through in our attempt to see God.

  4. Natasha

    Criminal Minds (I’ve watched probably 50% of the episodes) has taught me that with training and experience, the protagonists are able to correctly interpret and predict the behavior of criminals and each other.

    To me, this is a reminder that our thoughts and actions are not “random” and that everyone’s mind works in a way that is organized and structured, directed by circumstances around us and our own humanity. In a world where events are often uncontrollable and peoples’ choices seem absurd, there is some kind of comfort for me in knowing that God has made our minds to work in a way that can be understood. In a practical sense, this makes me want to take more time to understand the circumstances surrounding choices I see people make (and make myself). If I can try to understand what went on in someone’s mind, my response may be much more gracious.

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