2/15/23 Written by Steve Papale
In 2019 Netflix made a movie called the First Temptation of Christ in which Jesus is portrayed as gay and Mary as a weed smoker. There was Christian pushback but many others pushed back on the push back. Some defenders of the movie pointed out that it was satirical and the outcry surrounding the film was ridiculous. They also said many of the tweets complaining about the film were homophobic. One person tweeted: “why is jesus being depicted as gay disrespectful to Christianity? let’s unpack that. i know why, but i want to hear you say it” (sic).
This past January a professor at Hamline University in Minnesota showed images of Muhammad as well as other religious figures in a class. He told students ahead of time that these were going to be shown as part of a discussion on world religions. He even gave students the opportunity to leave the class before that lesson was starting. A single Muslim student complained on the grounds that some believe showing the picture violates Islam law. Later she rallied others to join her who were not even in the class. She said, “I don’t feel like I belong, and I don’t think I’ll ever belong in a community where they don’t value me as a member, and they don’t show the same respect that I show them.” The University president wrote a letter to students apologizing for the incident and any offense it caused. The professor was fired.
So we have two separate and contrasting instances. In the first, Jesus, the focus of Christianity, can be represented in a movie as gay, which is clearly a mockery, and the world applauds and taunts. In the second, a single offended follower of Islam got a professor fired and the university president to issue an apology for any offense that was caused.
Responses don’t get much different than that. But not surprisingly, scripture sees this coming. John 15:18-19(a) says, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.”
The world loves its own. We see that big time. The attack on Christianity and especially Jesus is everywhere and increasing. But this only highlights that Christianity and the person of Jesus Christ is the only truth. Darkness isn’t hostile against darkness; darkness is hostile against light. Culture loves inclusivity except when it comes to Christianity. The gospel offends because it points out our sinfulness. Not a message the world wants to hear. Don’t expect to ever see the world coming against Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism or any other religions or cults. All false religions have the same origin, that is the tower of Babel where humanity gathered to make itself a symbol of power and pride.
The Christian is in a battle. But our fight is spiritual, against the forces of darkness. The Holy Spirit empowers us. Our weapons include the Word of God, prayer and praise. Finally, we are encouraged in the fight that the war has already been decided by Christ at the cross. We fight from victory already won.