Peacemaking and The Good Wife

Peacemaking and The Good Wife

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Goodwife OrigNine million people will soon be introduced to biblical peacemaking through an hour-long television show called The Good Wife.

The Good Wife is a prime time CBS legal and political drama. Its central character is a woman named Alicia Florrick (played by Julianna Margulies), whose husband, a former state attorney general, was jailed following a moral scandal. After thirteen years as a stay-at-home mother, Alicia is forced to go back to work as a litigator to provide for her children.

The show has been highly acclaimed by critics and has picked up several major awards, earning it a sixth season, which premieres September 21. One of the show’s most popular and exciting features is when Alicia is faced with something completely new … like biblical arbitration.

How does she get into this unfamiliar forum? I can’t tell you the plot line for this particular show, but I can tell you how the idea for the script originated.

An Interesting Phone Call

Last February, I was interviewed by the New York Times for an article on conciliating a lawsuit between Christian leaders. Someone on The Good Wife production team saw the article and floated the idea of developing an episode involving Christian conciliation.

A few days later I received a call from one of the executive producers, who spent over an hour asking insightful questions about biblical peacemaking. Shortly afterwards, their team decided to build an episode around this concept.

This led to several more conversations, including a conference call with their entire writing team. They asked dozens of questions about the biblical basis of Christian conciliation, how it compares to other faith-based processes, what types of issues it can address, and its legal enforceability. They also dug deeply into the details of a typical conciliation process, such as where the parties sit, what they wear, and what role their attorneys play.

An Opportunity to Pray About

Although they’ve offered me no guarantees as to how they will portray this process or the parties involved in it, I have been impressed with their evident desire to be as realistic as possible. I’ve explained how the gospel informs a conciliation process and described several actual cases where God turned bitter lawsuits into dramatic reconciliations. This, of course, is what I hope will come through in the program, but that is in God’s hands (Prov. 21:1).

The screenplay is being finalized and filming should begin in a few days. So please join me in praying that the Lord will move the screenwriters, producers, and actors to portray Christian conciliation in a positive light and introduce millions of people to the benefits of resolving conflict—including civil lawsuits (1Cor. 6:1-8)—in a biblically faithful manner.

This episode is presently scheduled to air on October 5, but it could be bumped back a week or two by competing sports events. So if you want to see it, keep your eye on your Sunday evening television schedule in October, or visit The Good Wife web site to see the rerun.

Warning

Although the series is highly acclaimed by secular critics, many Christians would find the frequent sexual content to be offensive, which is why I do not recommend this series in general.

Some reviews indicate, however, that the program has presented Christian characters in a relatively positive light. One of them is Alicia’s daughter, whose conversion and growth as a Christian is portrayed through four seasons without the typical Hollywood clichés. Another positive portrayal involves a pastor who counsels and supports Alicia’s husband as he seeks to overcome his past.

Worldly themes certainly outnumber Christian themes, but as ReligiMedia writes, “The Good Wife has proven itself to be one of the most religiously nuanced and innovative shows in network broadcast.”

Let’s pray that the upcoming episode on biblical arbitration continues this pattern.

Learn More about Biblical Peacemaking

If you’d like to learn more about the basic principles of biblical conflict resolution, please visit the Relational Peacemaking section of our website. For more detail, read The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict (Appendices B and D focus specifically on the mediation and arbitration of lawsuits between Christians).

If you’d like to be trained as a biblical mediator or arbitrator, please visit the Training and Certification section of Peacemaker Ministries’ website.

Better yet, attend Peacemaker Ministries’ Living a Legacy of Peace Conference in Colorado Springs (Sept. 25-27), which will feature keynote addresses, workshops, and training courses by some of the most experienced Christian conciliators in the world, whom I’m privileged to count as dear friends and respected colleagues.

May God use all of these channels (whether a prime time television show, our RW360 website, or a peacemaking conference) to draw people closer to a gospel-centered way of resolving conflict and preserving relationships.

– Ken Sande

Post Script (10/6/14): Here is a link to the page where you can watch the episode, Season 6, Episode 3, “Dear God” (beware of two brief sexual flashbacks in first two minutes). And here are some subsequent reviews of the episode, most of which were surprisingly positive: Alyssa RosenbergBreia Brissy, Mike Hale, Sonja Saraija, Nora Grenfel, Michael Slezak,

Reflection Questions

  • What are the benefits and pitfalls of watching secular television shows and Hollywood movies?
  • How could Christians be tempted or misled by secular media?
  • How can we use these forms of entertainment to develop our powers of discernment, improve our relational abilities, and engage our culture in constructive ways? (See RW in the Movies and the movie books listed at the bottom of our Recommended Reading page )

Permission to distribute: Please feel free to download, print, or electronically share this message in its entirety for non-commercial purposes with as many people as you like.

© 2014 Ken Sande

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13 Responses to "Peacemaking and The Good Wife"
  1. Ken, that is very exciting and encouraging! I will plan to tune in to see what the writers do on the program with what you shared with them. And I will pray that the process of biblical conflict resolution is presented in a light that brings glory to God! A very neat opportunity, indeed!!!
    And who knows, just having the opportunity to reflect to the writing team seeing how God has worked in the past is very cool! We are not able to know how often the telling affects individual hearts. I am always amazed and reminded of god and his ways of working through these things — often not the way we expect, but very much in awesome ways that bring Glory to Himself!

    • So true, Allison. God uses countless channels to convey his presence, holiness, and goodness to us. I’m increasingly fascinated with how he uses general revelation and common grace to bless those who do not even acknowledge his existence (see http://www.rw360.org/2013/10/16/common-grace-rw/). Please give me a call and let me know how your ministry is going.

    • Thank you, Kim. It should be interesting. As I noted in the post, however, some Christians would not find the whole series to be edifying. You’ll have to decide that for yourself. Regardless, let’s pray that the October episode provides a positive view of biblical conciliation.

  2. Thanks for sharing this news Ken. This and the possibilities of how the Lord will use it and you is all very exciting. I will be in prayer.

  3. In light of our conversation about recent changes at PM, it is good to know that good things continue to happen and I believe God will continue to bless the work.

  4. Wow Ken – this is amazing!! What an INCREDIBLE vehicle for raising the concept and awareness of biblical conciliation in the ‘common mind’ (and even for Christians as well!). This show is a much more nuanced handler of difficult ethical issues than most, and the characters and not at all black and white (including Alicia herself), but I do agree that the portrayal of Grace her Christian daughter has been increasingly positive as the show has gone on – which is highly unusual in a show of this kind. I will pray for a positive presentation of the process and of Christ through the episode. Blessings!

    • Thank you, Bruce. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds. I’ve not seen any of the episodes myself, but the reviews about how Grace is portrayed have been encouraging. Interestingly, a realistic mediation could easily include a difficult Christian party … I’ve seen plenty of them in my 32 years as a conciliator!

  5. Wow, what an opportunity! I can’t imagine that at least one (or more) of the writers on the team wasn’t touched by listening to your gospel-centered answers to all of their questions! You present the truths of scripture so beautifully and explicitly, I know God will do more than we could ever ask or imagine in the hearts of all those who put this scene together! Praise God for the hundreds of opportunities He allows you to be His mouthpiece!

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About Ken Sande

Ken Sande is the founder of Peacemaker Ministries and Relational Wisdom 360. Trained as an engineer, lawyer and mediator, Ken has conciliated hundreds of family, business, church and legal conflicts. He teaches globally and has written numerous resources on building relationships and resolving conflict, including The Peacemaker, which has sold over 500,000 copies in seventeen languages.