I don't know much about Ricky Gervais beyond whatever I've seen of him on Graham Norton. There, he's funny, but not excessively provocative, and so I'd shrug and laugh along. But then some friends ("friends") on Facebook posted some FB posts of his, and they were funny too, so I popped over to his page to have a look.
I was scrolling happily along and chuckling to myself, when I came upon a post showing a picture of some men in front of a huge painting of Christ on the cross. I won't go into too much detail (lest I be guilty of sharing the joke!), but suffice to say that the caption at the bottom read, "Blasphemy -- A ticket to hell has never been funnier".
And you want to know the truth? I giggled. In fact, I think I did one of those snorting sort of laughs. I mean, it really was quite funny. And looking at it again now, I'm laughing again. But the thing is, I'm really bothered by the fact that I'm finding it funny. Well, I think I know why I find it funny -- I'm tickled by the fact that those men could actually think of such a thing, and actually pose like that, and then put it all together like a motivational poster.
But whether I should find it funny -- there's the rub. I mean, it's clearly sacrilegious -- that was Jesus, the son of God, dying on the cross. But the three fellows were being so shamelessly inane! I felt so troubled by my amusement that I actually prayed about it, and I did feel God reassuring me that I was not doomed for being unable to help my sense of humour. The Christian life is meant to be joyful, not dull and humourless.
At the same time, however, I did feel Him cautioning me against indulging too much in that sort of thing -- there is a fine line between good humour, and irreverence and mockery. Something that gets laughed at often enough gradually loses its value, its importance, its dignity -- one easily becomes flippant and disrespectful.
It's like the blonde jokes, you know? I don't like them. Some of them aren't too bad, but some really are, perpetuating terrible, belittling stereotypes which do great injustice to blondes everywhere, including millions of little blonde girls who will have to grow up under such an insulting stigma. So I try not to encourage such jokes, by listening to them, sharing them, or laughing with others.
I decided to see what other, wiser heads than mine had to say on the subject. I didn't know how to look such a thing up, and in the end Googled, "Is sacrilegious humour a sin?" Oddly enough, there wasn't much on the topic. I did find this (which, yes, made me chuckle), but it didn't strike me as being really downright SACRILEGIOUS. I did find a couple of the comments below it relevant though, such as this one by Fatima: "I don't think there is anything wrong with this. It is okay to laugh. God is not being mocked. It's people that are being mocked. and It's FUNNY!!! Lighten up guys lol".
That's the key I guess -- how mocking is the joke? Whether about blondes or almighty God, how scornful or contemptuous is it making me when I laugh? As Paul writes to the Galatians: "Do not be deceived and deluded and misled; God will not allow Himself to be sneered at (scorned, disdained, or mocked by mere pretensions or professions, or by His precepts being set aside.) [He inevitably deludes himself who attempts to delude God]".
While on the topic, I decided to find out exactly what Ricky Gervais' stand on religion is. And this was the first thing I came upon. Now, this isn't a post about atheism, or bigotry, or fundamentalist anything, but I do object strongly to anyone mocking Christ publicly, on the cover of a magazine, knowing perfectly well that their celebrity would make it widely circulated. People don't need to see this sort of jeering and insult, our young people especially, who are trying to grow and find their way in an increasingly profane, immoral world.
Don't get me wrong -- I don't object to a person's atheism, but I do question the wisdom of treating godly or moral values with scorn; however idiotically the human followers of a particular religion behave, the principles to which they theoretically hold should be universally upheld -- principles such as love, peace, patience, kindness, self-control and so forth.
For Christians, the cross in part represents the theoretical upholding of such values, values which surely are in dire shortage in this fallen world of ours. Why mock or denigrate it? Make fun of some of its followers, maybe; sneer at them even if you must, but steer clear of what is inherently good, pure and holy. I believe this applies to all religions. Certainly, human failings might be deprecated and disaparaged, but not the ethics or credo which makes those humans strive to reach higher and overcome those failings.
So, I think giggling at my mom's comic on the fridge is okaaay (Moses is leading the Israelites through the Red Sea and rolling his eyes because they're saying things like, "Are we there yet?" and "I should have used the bathroom before we left"), but laughing at three immature fellows having fun with the crucifixion -- not so ok. (Also not ok -- What do you call an intelligent blonde? ...).
Trust you're all having a happy, lighthearted week!