The Walking Dead and the Nature of Man

In the Walking Dead series we see humanity at both its best and worst. There are times where people are absolutely brutal and selfish and then other times where people exhibit a sense of self-sacrifice for others. It is interesting to watch the series to see how people react to each other in an environment with no civil government to enforce order; it is like being transported into the “state of nature” postulated by Thomas Hobbes where everyone is at war. In fact, in the series, even the people who are “good” people struggle with their actions and are morally conflicted.

The series touches on the truth that humanity is fallen. As Christians we call this original sin; that is, the sin of Adam and Eve tainted our human nature with evil as well as bringing decay and death into God’s good creation. In the Walking Dead series, the civil government has fallen and therefore there is no outside control over the behavior of people; in addition, the Church seems to be absent, so there is no inward control or restraint over behavior. Thus, people are left to struggle against their fallen natures themselves, with neither outward or inward restraint upon their actions.

What we see in the show, then, is the natural outcome of sin let loose. People are cruel, un-merciful, and brutal towards others. Yet, even they seem conflicted at their behavior. At one level they feel it is wrong; this is the natural law of God tugging at their consciences. Yet, they also seem unable to restrain their behavior. They stuggle at finding a sense of humanity in the midst of a darkened world. Just as they need civil government to make and enforce order, so too do they need the Church to proclaim the forgiveness of Christ, reconciliation, and mercy. Yet, as long as the Church remains inactive in the world, however, people will continue to be in darkness.

What the series brings out, then, is a sense of what the world would be like with neither civil government nor the Church. It is chaos. This shows to emphasize why God created both civil government and the Church following the fall of Adam and Eve. There was no need for either realm (i.e. civil government and the Church) prior to their fall into sin, because everything was in order and there was no need for salvation. Yet, their fall into sin brought with it decay/death and separation from God and each other. This necessitated civil government to regulate life on earth as well as the Church to reconcile fallen sinners back to God and each other through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Thus, God rules over all things and has assigned both realms their proper sphere: civil government to make and enforce order, the Church to proclaim salvation and forgiveness. Without these two realms of God’s rule functioning in a healthy way, the world descends back into the Hobbesian “state of nature” where everyone is at war with each other. The series does a good job of showing what this world would look like, and it is frightening.


(Image is the cover art for Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan @, Public Domain, )