In early 2018, a TV series titled Living Biblically premiered. It is based on the book The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible by A.J. Jacobs. In the series, a man named Chip Curry, a self-described lapsed Catholic, attempts to live his life strictly following the teachings of the Bible. His journey begins as a way for him to escape depression after the death of a close friend.
Other main characters in the series include Chip’s wife, Leslie Curry, who is a skeptical non-believer, along with Father Gene and Rabbi Gil, who serve as Chip’s consultants on how to fulfill his goal of living biblically.
This article will be updated as additional episodes are released. What follows is our evaluation of the episodes that have aired to-date.
The primary flaw of Living Biblically is the idea that everything in the Bible is how God would want us to live in this present day and age. Many of the difficulties Chip encounters are when he attempts to follow the Old Testament Law. Chip has to get new clothing because he can’t wear mixed fabrics (Leviticus 19:19; Deuteronomy 22:9–11). Chip wonders if he needs to stone a coworker who is committing adultery (Leviticus 20:10), and ends up pelting him with a rock.
There are many other examples of this misapplication of the Old Testament Law. The New Testament is clear that God does not expect, or desire, people to live by the Old Testament Law (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:23–25; Ephesians 2:15). The Old Testament Law was a part of God’s covenant with the nation of Israel. In the Bible, God nowhere requires anyone outside of His covenant people to obey those laws. So, a primary aspect of Living Biblically is invalid. It is portraying someone attempting to live by rules that God does not require of us.
A second issue is how Chip continues to, at least somewhat, practice Catholicism. If his goal is to live biblically, why would he go to a priest for confession and light candles for his deceased friend when the Bible nowhere teaches those practices? A third problem is regarding how much of time Chip, his priest, and his rabbi spend in bars. While the Bible does not forbid the drinking of alcohol, it definitely commands against intoxication and addiction. A person truly trying to live biblically would not be frequenting a bar, nor do Catholic priests and Jewish rabbis typically have "counseling" sessions in bars.
On a positive note, Living Biblically accurately portrays the difficulty of following some of what the Bible says. For example, Chip struggles with loving his neighbors and honoring his difficult father. One episode is devoted almost entirely to Chip’s struggles with lying. When Chip dedicates himself to always tell the truth, it puts him into some challenging situations and strains some of his relationships. In the end, everything works out, but it served as a good reminder of how often we are tempted to lie as the "easy way out."
While Living Biblically does not necessarily denigrate the Bible or faith, it does focus on practices that make for humorous television, while ignoring far more important things the Bible teaches we should or should not do. Hopefully it will remain a humorous and not degrading look at an attempt at living biblically.