First, let me say: I do not post this to condemn anyone who supports publishing the “Charlie Hebdo” cartoons or any other illustrations showing and/or mocking Islam’s Prophet Mohammed. This country has the right of freedom of speech/expression, and I do not support restrictions on it, nor do I criticize those who choose to exercise it.
That said… My initial inclination after the murders of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, etc. was that those cartoons should be published in every venue possible. We should show those terrorists that we cannot be intimidated. But then I saw one piece that caused me to think hard about this position. In it, Andrew T. Walker makes a very simple, straightforward case for restraint.
I decided against retweeting the image of Muhammed. Luke 6:31 came to mind: “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” As a Christian, I’m not so much offended as I am tired and exasperated at the disrespect and contempt for religion Writ Large when the representative iconoclasm of such things as the “Piss Christ” rear their ugly head. I’m not a Mormon, but I don’t like seeing Mormonism mocked. Neither am I Catholic, but I don’t like anti-Catholic bigotry. I’m not Jewish, but I don’t like seeing Jews caricatured. I’m a Christian, but I believe in the valuable contribution that all religions bring to a free civil society. As I would not want Christ mocked, so I decided to not mock Islam’s prophet. This is not a moment of Holier-Than-Thou Christian Do-Goodism. It’s to suggest that the commodity of all religions is undervalued in Western society; and that refraining from offending religious sects isn’t to bow the knee to political correctness or to become Sharia-compliant.
It is tempting for those who are rightfully angry about the murders to accuse Walker (and as you’ll see, me) of “Holier-Than-Thou Christian Do-Goodism”. This is why I prefixed this piece as I did. I’m not telling people they shouldn’t post satirical cartoons. But there is a valid, Biblical case for applying the Golden Rule to this situation. Did the murdering terrorists do this? No. And they deserved to be punished for it (and I suspect they ARE being punished for it now and will be for eternity).
As Christians, we become angry when we see things like “Piss Christ” or convoluted anti-Christian diatribes in Newsweek magazine or TV shows that make Christians look foolish. But none of us would claim that those responsible should not have been permitted to do it. But should Christians DO those kinds of things in return? Luke 6:31 clearly teaches the answer to that is “no”. And in this situation, I believe that Mr. Walker is correct – that is not the right thing to do.
I suggest that Christians/conservatives adhere more to the apostle James: “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19-20) I understand the concept of “righteous anger”, and I’m sure many of us believe that that is what we engage in when we express our outrage about what goes on in the world of politics. However, I believe we often slide from righteous anger quickly into retaliatory anger where we just want to get back at the bad guys. And that is not what Jesus taught, is not what the Scripture focuses upon, and not what we should strive for. Anger is one of my biggest weaknesses and something that I will be working on in 2015 and beyond.
Just remember: the fact that we have the right to do something does not mean it’s right to do it.