The Second Sunday after Pentecost

The topic of blasphemy and public sensibilities – or is it sensitivities? – what is the difference? – ebbs and flows like a long tide, it seems to me. Currently in Australia there are some debates happening about a particularly gross comment about Jesus on national TV earlier this year. There is also criticism on many levels of the Dark Mofo Festival in Tasmania which culminates in a nude swim on the winter solstice particularly about its parodying and offending Christianity. None of this is new. Christianity, the Church, Christians have been mocked since we appeared on the world stage. I remember complaining in the 1990s about comedy shows mocking Christians on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation – not that we were being mocked but that the comics were not mocking other religions. I wanted the public broadcaster to be an ‘all religions blasphemer’. So I was rather chuffed – and in agreement – when I heard social commentaries in the recent ‘storms’ say that today’s media is not inclusive – it only jokes about Jesus and Christianity and has a different standard for the other religions.


No one likes to be mocked, pilloried, ridiculed, abused. It is especially hurtful when what is precious to us – a person, a relationship, a point of view – is targeted – because often the person hearing the hurtful words is the real target. We also have to acknowledge that mocking and ridicule might be the only response to the abuse of power – and the court jester in the past and the sardonic comic today do have a role in society. So, I am not a big fan of blasphemy laws while I am a big fan of speaking the truth in love – but the question still arises, what does one do about words that attack what we hold precious or sacred?


Christians are called to remember that words are powerful – use them carefully – truthfully and in love – always. In our relationship with God we use words to teach, pray, praise, and give thanks – not in any empty way – again truthfully (which means centred on Jesus and what he reveals throughout the Bible) – and in love. Christians can’t expect non Christians to use words truthfully in relation to God and we have laws in our society that govern all of us how we use words between us. God hears all our words and all those about the other religions, other deities, about all our idols and things we worship and they are wrong – they are incorrect – they miss the mark even if people believe them to be true – and yet God still sends the sun and the rain on us all.


Often Christians have taken the view that God is not mocked (Galatians 6:7) and sought to protect or shield him when it is patently obvious that Jesus was and is mocked, that God is mocked, and that God doesn’t need defending because he can look after himself. Yes, in the heavenly realm there will only be praise and thanksgiving and God is not mocked. In the meantime Christians can follow Jesus who prayed for those who persecuted him, ‘Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing’ – or saying – and pray – and reply (when possible or appropriate) that in knowing Jesus as he truly is, one’s words do change about him – especially as they become words to him who has given his life for us so that we might live the best life we can live.


And if we get into a conversation about why the media isn’t an inclusive blasphemer, perhaps pointing out that a relationship with a God who sacrifices himself and forgives is one worth hearing more about.