Summer Bay Christianity
There aren’t a lot of prominent Christian characters in Australian (fictional) TV. We don’t exactly have a lot of Seventh Heaven‘s or Touched By An Angel‘s. We don’t even have a Vicar of Dibley. But we do have Home and Away‘s Geoff Campbell. Played by Lincoln Lewis, he’s the sheltered Christian kid who’s been introduced to a world that he doesn’t quite understand. He struggles to maintain his faith as he is tempted by the two greatest lures for the Australian male – girls and footy. What does Geoff tell us about being a Christian in 21st century Australia?
Yeah, I do watch Home and Away. Not every night, but enough to keep up with what’s happening. I love working out where the plot is going, days in advance. It’s a guilty pleasure. DON’T JUDGE ME! It’s one of the most prominent TV shows in Australia, so if you want to know what teenagers are into these days, watch Home and Away.
Geoff, and his sister Annie, are orphans. Raised by their very religious and conservative grandfather, they spent most of their lives living in isolation on farm. When their grandfather got sick, and eventually died, they came into the town of Summer Bay and integrated into lives of the townsfolk. At first, Geoff’s faith, very black and white, clashed with those around him. He was naive when it came to the ways of this world. He didn’t know how to respond to people who didn’t share his values.
At times I’ve wanted to grab Geoff and slap him around some. If he was a member of my Church, I’d be pulling him up on how judgemental he comes across. He knows what the Bible says (or at least what the writers of the show tell him the Bible says) but he quite often comes across as unloving. There has to be a balance between preaching the hard words of the Bible and loving those who haven’t accepted it as true. These are lessons that Geoff needs to learn.
In recent weeks, Geoff has scored himself a new girlfriend. After being stranded in the middle of no where, they got involved sexually. It will be interesting to see where the writers of the show take this development. So far, Geoff has regretted his actions. He has recognised that they were not in line with God’s Word. However, he’s still keen on going out with this girl, who is not only a non Christian, but very much keen on continuing the sexual relationship she’s begun. The focus here has been on his sexual ethics, not on his dating practices. I do not advocate “missionary dating” between Christians and non Christians. A non Christian boyfriend or girlfriend will lead you away from God. I think we will see this happen very soon for Geoff in Home and Away.
I think the biggest thing we can learn from Geoff is the need for Christian fellowship. Geoff goes to Church. But he lives with non Christians, his friends are non Christians, his girlfriend is a non Christian. Even his sister is dating a non Christian. Geoff needs a community around him to keep him on track. To shoulder his burdens. To help him out when times are tough. To encourage him to stay focused on God. He needs to be an active member of God’s family. We don’t see this aspect of his Christian life. Church for Geoff is a place he goes to for an hour on Sunday. It’s a place to go, not a family to meet with. We don’t even see him opening his Bible. Maybe Geoff wouldn’t be facing the problems he does if he was regularly meeting with the saints.
I’m keeping an eye on Geoff. As I’m sure are quite a lot of teenage Christians in Australia.
Are there any other Christian characters of Australian TV? I can’t think of any, but would love for someone to point them out to me so I can check them out.