Breaking Bad is a show that ended in 2013 and that depicts a man’s decline from grace. The word “decline” suggests a hillside, which, in turn, leads us to consider “the slippery slope.” The Church teaches that we should avoid the near occasion of sin. Humans are built to tow the line. Each time we choose the easier road that takes us further from Christ, it is easier to make a similar decision at the next crossroad. Stopping becomes more and more difficult until our immersion in evil is as complete as that of Walter White.
Walter White, the protagonist (not the “hero”) of the series slides down the slippery slope and, along with the way, commits most, if not all, of the six sins against the Holy Ghost. Those sins are of a presumption, despair, resisting the known truth, envy of another’s spiritual good, obstinacy in sin, and final impenitence.
Walter is dying from lung cancer and decides to start a meth-cooking business. He tells himself that he is doing it in order to make money to provide for his family after his death. He becomes more violent and more prideful. He commits these sins as he becomes further and further entrenched in his criminal enterprise.
The sin of presumption is the assumption that one will make it into heaven regardless of one’s actions. Despair is the feeling that nothing will ever get better. Resisting the known truth is basically resisting Christ. Envy of another’s spiritual good is envying someone’s virtues or something that they have that we do not. Obstinacy in sin is an unwillingness to change for the better. And final impenitence is turning down the final opportunity for repenting and coming back to Jesus.
Walter White, a.k.a. Heisenberg, if he were a Christian, would be committing the sin of presumption, if he continued with his life of sin. But since he is not, we can see this sin in him in a slightly different way. His presumption is based upon his feelings of superiority. His pride and ego lead him to strive to control everything and inappropriately seek opportunities to take over temporally. Though regularly faced with his own mortality, he continues to think only of his temporal self, never contemplating what is on the other side of his inevitable, quickly approaching death.
He engages in despair. There is a scene where he sits at the dinner table with his partner, Jesse, and talks about how terrible things are. In some way, his decisions after his cancer diagnosis are all based upon despair. He can only see where he has failed, not where his life has been worthwhile. His wife and son love him, and his teenage son is a “good kid.” While not raised in any faith tradition, by temporal standards Walter Junior is a good person, and on a good path with his life. Many parents I know would be thrilled to have such a respectful and thoughtful teenager as their child. Rather than taking this opportunity to deepen his relationships with those who love him, Walt despairs and deepens his relationship with sin.
He resists the known truth. There is nothing within the show that indicates that he knows that the idea of God is real, that people actually believe it. But, given the time and where it takes place, it is hard to believe that he has never seen anyone who is a practicing Catholic or Christian. But, if one were to expand upon what this sin is, he blatantly committed this sin by resisting every good idea that someone gave him to get out of his life of sin, which would have invariably improved the lives of everyone around him. Every time Jesse or Skyler or Mike or anybody else suggested he had “enough” he arrogantly refused to change paths.
He envied another’s spiritual good. It was fairly clear that, in the aforementioned scene at the dinner table, that he was discontented with his life. Meanwhile, his partner, Jesse, had a girlfriend, who had a son, and they seemed spiritually good for each other. It would be difficult to imagine that, comparing that to what Walter had, that Walter would not be envious. Since Walter had previously had a loving wife and son, it is difficult to understand how he could not infer from Jesse’s situation that he should try to reconcile those bad feelings and try to turn back to a better life.
He was obstinate in his sin. He would say things like “I am the danger.” Initially, he would say that he was in the meth-cooking business to make money for his family, but towards the end, he started telling the truth. He said that really he was doing it for himself. He was doing it because he liked being the best at something. And he showed no remorse.
And, finally, he was impenitent when he arrived on death’s door. Even when Jesse was considering shooting him, he did not apologize for any of the terrible acts he had committed against him, though it was his intention to die.
Some fans of the show were upset at the way the series ended. They said it was terrible that Walter never stood trial for his actions. However, as Christians, we know that is not the full story.
Featured Image: Flickr | scubavixen