In season one of The Mandalorian, Mando is dedicated to following his religious creed, yet he willingly breaks the bounty hunter code due to the compassion he feels for a little alien child, Grogu. In the season two finale, however, Djarin breaks his Mandaloria clan’s creed as well by removing his helmet to look upon his beloved Grogu with his own eyes. Season three begins with Mando seeking redemption for breaking his clan’s code, which he achieves by bathing in the living waters on planet Mandalore. This brings Djarin his redemption and restores him as a fully-fledged member of his clan.
Redemption and Restoration in Christianity
Redemption and restoration are also key aspects of Christianity. In Genesis three, we learn how Adam and Eve break God’s commandment and subsequently damage their relationship with their Creator. Adam and Eve could not redeem themselves from their sin, nor can we. Yet, from that moment, God enacts his plan to redeem his people from their sins and create a holy nation that reflects the character of God. This plan culminated in the sacrifice and Resurrection of King Jesus at the Cross, as he triumphed over sin, death, and all evil forces (Colossians 1:13-14). Like The Mandalorian, we see other examples of redemption in the Bible, such as the story of Ruth and Boaz, that foreshadow God’s ultimate redemption of humanity. Redemption is only the beginning, however, as it may not immediately reverse all of the damage caused by our sins. In the case of Mando, his redemption brought him instant restoration into his Mandalorian community. But in our world, restoration may take time and effort.
The apostle Paul tells the church in Galatia that “if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently” (Galatians 6:1). Here, Paul develops a doctrine of restoration for the Church to live out. Like Mando breaking his clan’s creed, this verse implies that a Christian may be cut off from their community when they persist in sin, but he or she also has the chance for restoration. This is further supported by an example from 1 Corinthians 5, in which Paul reprimands the Corinthian church for tolerating a man’s egregious sin. They should have cast him out from their fellowship. This seems harsh, but Paul explains that “a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough” (v. 6), meaning that one person’s sin may corrupt the broader Christian community. This does not mean that the man is hopelessly lost, however, as Paul hopes this man’s expulsion will eventually lead to his salvation (v. 5). Christians are repeatedly commanded to forgive each others’ sins (Colossians 3:13); however, as we have just mentioned, the Bible also warns against the corruption that unchecked sin may cause within the Church. Thus, we cannot tolerate sin and may need to separate unrepentant sinners from our community. However, we must also be willing to forgive and restore repentant sinners into our midst.
Christianity vs. “Cancel Culture”
In the first episode of season three, we learn that Cara Dune, a regular character from seasons one and two, is no longer around, since she was recruited by the New Republic Special Forces. But, fans know this is the creators’ way of explaining the character’s absence from the show. Dune’s actress, Gina Carano, made some controversial social media posts in February 2021 that led to her firing from The Mandalorian. Fans saw this as an act of “canceling,” in which a person is publicly shamed and punished for their beliefs or actions. Whether her firing was appropriate is up for debate, but it does bring the topic of “canceling” to the forefront of the Star Wars universe.
How does “cancel culture” relate to Christianity? As noted above, Paul commanded the Corinthian church to expel an unrepentant sinner from their community. Is this analogous to “canceling?” No, it is not. Many forms of cancel culture are completely incompatible with Christianity. Often when someone is canceled he or she is publicly shamed and ostracized by the culture. Depending on the reasons for the canceling, there is usually no way to gain forgiveness, and the person’s reputation is irreparably destroyed.
Contrast this with Jesus, who “came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). He constantly showed grace and mercy to others, and we are called to do the same. Jesus sought out the people who were ostracized by their society. The only “canceling” Jesus did was to cancel the debt that we owed God for our sin (Colossians 2:13-14). While Paul commanded the Corinthian church to part ways with an unrepentant sinner in his first letter to them, in his second letter, he charged the church to forgive a person who had caused some type of offense (2 Corinthians 2:5-11). The same is true in our relationships outside of our Christian communities. We may have friends who have hurt us (or who are engaging in destructive behavior) from whom we might need to temporarily distance ourselves. But, if such a person repents, we are called to practice forgiveness. Depending on the kind of harm done, the relationship may never be fully restored—or restored at all—but we are to offer forgiveness and seek healing if possible.
Restored to Glory
Mando’s redemption is initially deemed impossible, since his home of Mandalore has been destroyed by the Empire and the living waters into which he needs to bathe are believed to be no more. However, Mando travels to the planet and learns that the waters still exist, which allows him to bathe in them and gain his redemption. This gives him and his fellow Mandalorians hope that one day all Mandalore can be made habitable once again. In the season finale, the Mandalorians discover growing vegetation, retake their planet from Moff Gideon, and relight the Great Forge. It may be difficult and take many years, but perhaps Mandalore can be restored to its previous glory. However, there is no guarantee that Mandalore won’t be destroyed again. There is always a new threat to the galaxy and peace may be fleeting.
What about our world? It has been heavily damaged by the Fall, resulting in disease, decay, and all kinds of harm to God’s creation. Can the Earth ever be restored to its original glory? The Bible teaches in Revelation 21 that the world will be made new and more beautiful than we could ever imagine, going beyond its original state. There will be no more suffering (Revelation 21:4), only joy. God’s wonderful creation will be permanently restored with no fear of future corruption, and we will reign with him forever (Revelation 22:5). Evil will be defeated once and for all and we will enjoy everlasting peace (Isaiah 65:17-19, 25). While shows like The Mandalorian are fiction, Christianity offers us in reality those things that our favorite stories make us desire: redemption for our wrongs and restoration of things broken or lost.
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