They call him Heisenberg. A man full of notoriety and intrigue. A man so wanted by the law yet feared and respected by seedy underground criminals. A man who, behind the sunglasses and hat, really isn’t intimidating at all. A man masquerading as a drug kingpin, but really lives as a family man diagnosed with cancer.
If you’ve seen the show Breaking Bad, you know exactly who I’m talking about. The character’s name is actually Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher who gets diagnosed with cancer. He’s a married man with a teenage son and a daughter on the way.
As numerous people throughout the years have dealt with cancer, the reality of expenses can be difficult. As it turns out, in his desperation, Walter decides to deal with the influx of bills in the most profitable way he knows how: by cooking meth and dealing it for money.
In dramatic fiction, we’re then thrust through an intriguing journey of Walter’s life, one filled with tense situations, often facing life and death decisions. This storyline forces us to ask a basic question: if we were in the situation, what would we do?
You know the scenario: your family is starving and broke, so do you go against your morals and the law and go steal bread? Its complex in its nature and in relationship to what we as disciples of Christ understand: sin is sin.
Walter White’s lifestyle defines in all too real terms what we read in the Bible that the wages of sin is death. The decision Walter makes to take a route so immoral to deal with his monetary concerns is similar to what we do every day. We’re determined to live our lives to our own capacity, as if they were our lives to run, and to never feel the need to depend on God to provide for us.
And like we see with David and Bathsheba, when sin goes unconfessed, it can spiral out of control. Walter’s decision to rely on immoral and illegal means to pay the bills did damage to his family and his marriage. Aside from the obvious damage done to desperate individuals looking to just get “a fix”, Walter also betrayed his wife and kids. He gets backed into a corner at times, facing the need to even murder those in his path rather than come clean.
The wages of sin…death.
A speaker I heard once described sin as “chocolate covered dog food.” At first the lure of the big money Walter would make seemed too good to pass up. But as he wallowed deeper, it turned out his decisions were becoming more and more destructive, and didn’t taste nearly as sweet as it did the first time.
In a far less dramatic way, we’re all like Walter White. We’ve all entered times of desperation, seeking any way out other than God’s will. We want to do it our way, because that’s what makes sense to us. That leads us tip-toeing into the deep forest of sin. Sometimes we wake up and listen to the wisdom of Godly counsel and the Bible and turn around. Other times we keep wandering, drudging deeper into the forest until we’re lost. Then too stubborn to ask for directions, we keep wandering until nightfall when we finally realize we’re in too deep, and can’t get out alone.
Breaking Bad is a fictional drama. Walter White is a fictional meth cook. We have no reason to believe he has any relationship with Christ. But what we can do is put ourselves in the shoes of Walter. What would we do? Would our tendencies to sin lead us to a life spiraling out of control, or would our first moment of desperation cause us to immediately cry out to our Savior for help?