Mr. Dahmer and I

In the month of September of 2022, the Netflix series Dahmer came out. According to many critics, this series was the closest production of the actual story that had ever been created. Many people talked about how uncomfortable the series made them feel and that it was very dark and frankly just plain gross. I really battled with watching it because as a child of the 90’s, I had an inkling of an idea of what the series was going to portray. I wasn’t sure how graphic the necrophilia, cannibalism and sex would be.

This next part contains spoilers.

After much thought, I went ahead and watched the series. I really don’t have that much time to binge, but I was able to finish it probably in a week. The series starts off slow and intense. There is a lot of awkward silences and scenes, and the lighting feels dirty and grimy. The movie did live up to what people had said. It was vile. It was depraved and there were plenty of scenes that I did skip or close my eyes to. I don’t remember there actually being gay or corpse sex or much nudity, but there was a lot of male/male dancing and kissing. The series also does show Dahmer eating human flesh and there are gory scenes.

I write all this just to point out that Dahmer was an immoral man. He was totally depraved and acted out things that many of us have probably never even though of. He was a predator, a murderer and an awful human being. But in prison, Dahmer sought out Jesus, repented and was saved. He was also baptized and according to his pastor, spent his last days reading and learning about his Bible. The last episode of the series, to me, almost brought tears to my eyes.

I wasn’t going to write anything about this series until I saw several Facebook posts warning Christians not to watch the series, not because of its vulgarity, but because it was demonic. According to the post, there was a demon entity in the movie that brought about fear. The woman said that she felt it’s evil presence and warned people not to watch it. But that was the opposite of what I felt at the end of the series.

The series left me uncomfortable because but for the grace of God, there go I. Dahmer’s utter and total depravity, was also my own. His past, was my past. I may have never eaten human flesh, but I have eviscerated the soul’s of image bearers with my judgmental words. I may have never had homosexual sex, but I have lusted and committed adultery in my heart. I may have never murdered, but oh boy is my anger murderous sometimes. Jesus raised the moral standard, and all have fallen short of it. Both Mr. Dahmer and I needed a Savior, and both Mr. Dahmer and I called out to Him for salvation. (Romans 10:13) But these truths left me uneasy, because comparatively speaking, he’s worse than me right? Maybe, but the Gospel is the great equalizer. Here is what Romans 3:10-18 says about all of us:

There is no one righteous, not even one;
 there is no one who understands;
    there is no one who seeks God.
All have turned away,
    they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
    not even one.”

and it continues

Their throats are open graves;
    their tongues practice deceit.”
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
     “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
ruin and misery mark their ways,
and the way of peace they do not know.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

All of us are like Dahmer, and if you turn your nose up to that thought, you may not have a true grasp of just how awful your sin is. May I gently warn you not to be that Pharisee. (Luke 18:9-14)

The series is a harsh physical manifestation of what all of us were spiritually (1 Corinthians 6:11). I would argue with the Facebook lady that it’s not a demon in the movie, but us. The series holds a mirror showing our natural state – our default condition. And that in the end, the movie isn’t demonic, but redemptive.

I never felt fear watching the movie, but I did feel grossed out. Grossed out at Dahmer’s sins, then of my own sins, knowing full well that Jesus drank the wrath that was meant for us so we may now rest in our salvation – rest in the finished work of Jesus. Somehow it doesn’t seem fair, that maybe the men Dahmer killed are in hell, and that he is in Heaven. What a mind blowing thing grace is. (Matthew 20:1-16). It goes against our sense of justice. But then I am reminded that if justice had its way, I would be guilty too.

The series isn’t for all Christians. It is very violent and offensive, but demonic it isn’t. Sometimes we think it is the devil, when in reality it is just us.

I encourage you to watch this YouTube interview of Dahmer’s prison pastor. After listening to this, I do believe Dahmer was legitimately saved.

Blessings

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