From Gerschwin Langeveldt
I caught wind of some controversial Red Bull ad that was flighted and subsequently pulled off the air. After seeing the video for myself (me and 288,000 other youtube viewers) I started reading local newspaper articles and their comments.
On the one hand I’ve seen a few suggestions that Christians should ‘lighten up’, that we are too ‘uptight’ about this and contrasting this view are the Christians calling it ‘hate speech’ or saying things like ‘Christianity and Jesus in particular
are singled out for mockery by secular humanists and other anti-Christian bigots’.
Should we lighten up?
The argument goes: We should lighten up because God has a sense of humour. Yes, He does but I’d like to point out that the object of the joke is the deity of Jesus. The advert gives an alternative version of Jesus’ walking on the water. For Christians Christ’s deity is a big deal. It’s actually a crucial point. Walking on water was a miracle. Only God does miracles. Jesus
was showing his disciples that He is God. If He isn’t God, He cannot save us.
I’m not sure that Jesus would be OK with this ad. Who likes being the subject of ridicule? Seriously. Think about it. No subject of ridicule has ever enjoyed his/her position. If you’ve ever been one, you’d know what I mean. It would be presumptuous for me to speak on behalf of Jesus so I’ll only speak on behalf of my fellow subjects of ridicule and say we don’t like it. Not one bit.
I’d also like to point out that there is no such thing as ‘just a joke’. When it comes to the things that make us laugh, is it not because we think them true? Why are there so many mother-in-law jokes and no father-in-law jokes at all? Blonde jokes,
black people jokes, gay people jokes. I could go on and on. If we didn’t think these stereotypes true, would we be laughing?
Should we burn the place down?
I think the Christians on the other extreme of this see-saw are not helpful either. The problem with calling people bigots, citing hate speech and (my personal favourite) taking offence is that these are actually the very same non-arguments levelled against Christian views time and time again.
Let’s take another hot topic as a for instance: homosexuality. The Christian stance is that it is wrong for men to engage in unnatural sexual acts with one another because they harm each other and themselves both physically and emotionally. Is this
just an opinion or the truth? What does the medical evidence say?
Now, instead of addressing these issues and maybe showing some evidence to the contrary, Christians are said to be offending certain groups, propagating hatred and then being called bigots. This is unproductive. All we’ve done is to take a true or false issue and make it a like or don’t like issue.
Christian claims that Jesus is God and Jesus’ walking on water should remain a true or false issue, along with: Is the Earth flat or round? How many arteries pump blood from the heart? and What is the sum of seven and four? Christians say that
the world is a certain way, that God created it, that man rebelled against God, that Jesus is God made man, and that through Him man has a way back to God. Either this is the way the world is or it isn’t. It should never be a like or dislike issue.
How, then, should we react?
Though it’ll sound outrageous I think that calling it blasphemy is good. It’s a start. A pretty good start, really. Since we live in a world where people don’t believe in God it’s not always easy to steer a conversation in a God-ward direction. This ad just made it easier. It could be an opportunity for sharing the Gospel with your friends, colleagues and relatives: “Hey, have you seen that Red-Bull Ad? Do you think that Jesus actually walked on water?”
Then we should also warn that it’s not a good idea to pull faces and mock the lion veiled behind the curtain.
We should tell them it is dangerous. Even if they don’t believe that there is a lion. There either is or isn’t. It’s not an opinion.