Oprah’s ‘Greenleaf’ dares expose no-go areas in modern day Christianity

In these climes, it is sacrilegious to discuss the weaknesses of pastors. Many Christians quote Psalm 105: 15 which says, “Do not touch My anointed ones,  and do My prophets no harm,” in defense of pastors and bishops. But Oprah Winfrey’s ‘Greenleaf’ and Netflix original series exposes the vices of the modern day Christian.

Oprah acts in and executive produces ‘Greenleaf.’ The series follows the lives of the Greenleaf family. James Greenleaf (Keith David) is bishop of a Memphis megachurch, Calvary Fellowship, and Lynn Whitfield plays Lady Mae, matriarch of the Greenleaf family. Grace Greenleaf (Merle Dandridge) returns home after 20 years following the passing of her sister, Faith.

With Grace’s (Gigi) return comes the opening of pandora’s box. Grace blames Mae’s brother, Mac McCready (Gregory Alan Williams) for Faith’s death. Gigi claims that her uncle Mac had sexually abused Faith for years and she wants to reveal who he truly is. Gigi is almost consumed by her obsession but it is Mac who eventually loses the battle.

Meanwhile, other members of the Greenleaf family deal with different issues – adultery, incest, homosexuality, all of which threaten their Christian faith. Amid it all, Bishop Greenleaf is fair and Lady Mae  tries to keep it all together.

Oprah’s ‘Greenleaf’ is a brilliantly scripted television series. It is one series Christians ought to watch because beyond its entertainment value, there are many lessons to take away.

Church is business

Rivalry exists between churches. Triumph is in competition with Calvary Fellowship. And while this might not be news to some, that pastors use unconventional means such as gambling to grow church money, is news. Basie Skanks (Jason Dirden), pastor of Triumph gambles with church money. He justifies it by ploughing back the winnings as offerings.

You might be accountable for your spouse’s soul

Homosexuality is one of the themes explored in Oprah’s ‘Greenleaf’ and Deborah Joy Winans’s character (Charity Greenleaf) reminds us that we might be accountable for our spouse’s soul.

Charity, the youngest Greenleaf daughter learns that her husband, Kevin Satterlee (Tye White) is having feelings for men. At the time of his confession, Kevin hadn’t slept with a man and was fighting his urges. He joined a support group – Fortitude for Families, and needed Charity’s support in attending meetings but she declined. She also refused him sex and although she wouldn’t admit, it’s because she had eyes for Jabari, her music producer. Kevin eventually falls for Aaron Jeffries, Calvary lawyer and son of Bishop Lionel Jeffries – James’s longtime friend.

Sin is sin

Bishop Jeffries is livid when he learns that his son Aaron is gay. He reminds his son of what the Bible says in Romans 1 and Aaron says in return that God asks us not judge. Bishop Greenleaf who’s been called to mediate agrees that both arguments are valid.  He reminds Bishop Jeffries that Aaron is all he’s got.  Basie Skanks also encourages the church to embrace homosexuals when he tells his congregants that some of them had committed adultery right before ‘coming to church. ‘At the end of the day, sin is sin just that group commits it in secret. So neither the adulterer nor the homosexual has a right to impose.

Pastors are fallible

Bishop, Lady Mae, Gigi and Jacob, the Greenleaf son played by Lemman Rucker, are all guilty of adultery at one point or the other. Gigi had sex with her old flame, Noah, while Jacob had an affair with Alexa, Bishop’s secretary.

The Greenleafs have risen above all their challenges until the end of season 2. Bishop Greenleaf learns that Lady Mae and his longtime friend, Bishop Jeffries had and affair while Lady Mae discovers that Bishop Greenleaf had slept with her sister Mavis McCready (Oprah Winfrey) several times, contrary to her belief that it happened just once. Bishop Greenleaf moves out of the house and we see him being escorted into a hotel by Rochelle Cross. Will he fall again?

Greenleaf season 1 and 2 are available on Netflix. Season 3 was released in the US in August 2018 and we can’t wait for its release on Netflix.

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About the author

A lover of the arts who sees film and television through the eyes of the Nigerian viewer.