Be Careful What You Cheer

This article is one of this week’s most emailed stories from the pages of the NY Times. It tells of a woman who stormed a Loveland, Colorado art gallery and destroyed a painting reportedly portraying Jesus having sex with a male.

The artist says that it was a commentary on abuses in the Roman Catholic church. The iconoclast says that it desecrated her Lord.

So, do we cheer her? Or distance ourselves from her?

When we have read reports of Muslims getting all moody over cartoons depicting Mohammed, we wonder what the big deal is. “Chill,” we say. In a similar vein, in this case, I believe Christians need to chill.

Yes, from what I read of the image, it is offensive. But are we to destroy every offensive representation of Jesus? I find it particularly offensive that Jesus is seen as the champion of the Republican party. I find it offensive that He is preached as the one wanting to provide all my wealth and prosperity. These are desecrations of Jesus.

If we are to take on every offensive portrayal of Jesus, then we should be sending Christian SWAT teams into many churches where He is presented as a mere man whose body rotted in a Palestinian tomb. [Sadly, I’m afraid some might think this is a good idea.]

We should be saddened by such things, but not surprised or overwhelmed.

Paul did not take a hammer to the provocative and idolatrous images in Athens. Rather, the provocation they caused in his spirit led him to do what he could to bring the kingdom of Christ to bear upon the city. He preached.

We must ignore the taunts of the enemy. He wants a fight. What he does not want are faithful Christians living out a Christian life of love before and with their neighbors. And what he does not want is Gospel truth being faithfully proclaimed. But that is the very response we should bring.

So, please, step away from the crowbar.