Where are my Smurfs fans? I grew up watching the Smurfs – those little blue creatures who live in blissful community together. And I always remember being struck by one weird question: why was there only one girl?
That’s right: Smurfette. The lone female smurf.
Little did I know that there’s a totally reasonable explanation: in an episode called “The Smurfette” that originally aired in 1981 (!), we learn that Smurfette was originally created by the Smurfs’ archnemesis, Gargamel. You know the bald guy, always wore a black dress, had a cat named Azrael? Wanted to catch the smurfs and turn them into gold?
Gargamel created Smurfette and sent her into the Smurf village to betray them. (You can tell Smurfette was originally evil because she had black hair.) But the Smurfs’ overwhelming goodness, the purity of the Smurf way of life, overwhelmed Smurfette and she became good (and blonde!).
I think this episode of the Smurfs stuck with me – it’s the only one I remember anything about – because it illustrates a truth we know deep down: just because someone claims to be something doesn’t mean they actually are.
In the beginning, Smurfette claimed to be a Smurf, one of the community, even though her values and goals were totally at odds with the Smurf way of life.
We see that in religious life today as well. Massive numbers of people in our country claim to be Christian, and yet they don’t follow they way of Jesus. They don’t embody Jesus’ teachings in any meaningful way. In fact, they openly support candidates and policies that harm those Jesus calls our neighbors.