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29 February 2008

Reactions

Kathy Griffin (potentially offensive speech when clicking on that link). At the 2007 Emmy Awards, she made a statement upon receiving her award that, if said to a colleague, would be extremely insulting, and she completed that statement with, "This award is now my god." This is old news to many, as it happened last year and was talked about a good deal, as far as I know, in religious circles.

Surely, if she'd said this to someone in the Screen Actors Guild (or whatever organization), she'd have been forced to offer an apology, and in the e-mails I've received (typically entitled, "Yes, I am offended"), it's been suggested that she'd have never gotten away with this statement if it'd been directed toward Muhammed. Her words have been called "hate speech."

As people who know and serve the God she maligned, how are we to react? Should we have a particular reaction? If we say, "I'm going to boycott everything she's a part of," is that really of value? My guess is that most of us didn't watch her shows, anyhow. A while back I started to watch something she starred in and had to turn it off pretty much immediately (can't recall if it was foul language or innuendo or what). But if that is our response -- not watching anything she's involved in -- what's our motivation behind it? Anger? Personal injury?

Are we justified in becoming indignant, or isn't that kind of talk something we should expect of a comedienne who doesn't believe that Jesus is, indeed, God, and has built a career upon sarcasm and irreverence? Should we have expected her to conform to some higher standard? If so, why?

This leads to the important question: is it correct for the Christ-follower to expect people around him to meet his moral standards of living as prescribed by the Word of God? When we get upset about something like this and are vocal about it, does it damage our visual, active statement of faith and adherence to Jesus' teaching to turn the other cheek, offer our proverbial tunic, and love those who don't love us (Matthew 5:38-48)? Or does it show that we will take a stand for what we believe in?

The first area of Scripture that comes to my mind as a literal example of how to react to insult or injury is this:

"When they came to a place called The Skull, they nailed him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified—one on his right and one on his left. Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.' And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice." (Luke 23:33-34, NLT)

Oddly, though Jesus was God, one never gets the impression that He was being condescending when He spoke to anyone (except the religious leaders, and that was more anger than condescension). When Jesus saw the crowds during His ministry, He had compassion on them (Matthew 9:36, Mark 6:34), and He displayed the same compassion while He was on the cross.

Before reacting to situations, and definitely before forwarding an e-mail expressing personal disgust or offense, it is our responsibility as Christ-followers to make certain that our reaction is the same one that Jesus Christ would have, were He in our situation.

10 comments:

Christy said...

For me my first reaction to her probably would be something like, "Who does she think she is?" or along those lines. But if I had enough time to reflect on what she said, the motive behind it and where she is heading ultimately if she continues in that belief, I might say something like, "If you only knew Jesus the way I know Him, you wouldn't feel that way. Can I tell you what He's done for me?". I don't know if that would really make a difference or not, but it might.

Preston N said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tony M said...

Well, back in the "old" days God said that foreigners living among the Israelites had to follow the rules & so forth that God had handed to the Hebrews. I guess I'm not sure how much this applies to America, though.

And this passage talks about how to handle those who blaspheme... that was the son of an Israelite woman and an Egyptian man.

As far as my own perception/reaction, yes, of course, there's that initial reaction of shock & disgust, but again, like Christy said, it becomes obvious that she's in need of really understanding and knowing Jesus, and I'm pretty sure shock & disgust won't sway her that way. In fact, that may be the reason for her comments - to bring some infamy or notoriety her way - and too much shock & disgust might simply fuel even more of that attitude from her. And it certainly doesn't speak of the "love" of Christians if we simply spend our time & words condemning her; but we also shouldn't simply overlook this kind of behavior.

But I guess I go back to the first part of this comment: in God's nation in the old testament, outsiders were expected to behave pretty much according to the standards of the Israelites. I suppose that, as "one nation under God" we should expect the same; I don't know that we're acting much as a "nation under God" anymore. (I was recently reminded in a comment on this post that, when praying for our nation, we need to pray believing that God will do something and we'll change our ways.)

Not sure if any of this comment is really well organized - seems like it may be jumping around a bit. Oh well... sorry if it's "unfollowable."

Preston N said...

I have struggled with how to respond to this, so I'll try my best to say what's on my mind.

What I have struggled with was Dean's comment "This leads to the important question: is it correct for the Christ-follower to expect people around him to meet his moral standards of living as prescribed by the Word of God?".

This comment to me gives the impression that we should somehow pity Kathy Griffin for her sinfulness rather than treat her as a rebel (Luke 19:27). So to answer Dean's question my answer would be a resounding yes! We should indeed expect all of mankind to live benevolently and keep God's moral standard. Even if we never had the "law" God would still expect man to live according to the law of love - Paul says that even the Gentiles are without excuse because they have "natural law" or a law of the conscience. So to say that Kathy was unaware of what she said or to say "Oh if she only knew God like we know God" is not a plausible excuse. Kathy Griffin is guilty because as Pauls says in Romans Chapt 1 & 2 that men are without excuse because God has made himself evident even through the very creation. Even from creation we see the loving kindness of God on open display for all the universe to see and behold. So when Ms. Griffin made those comments she knows in the deep recesses of her heart she is guilty and God would judge her rightly so because she knows God exists and is without excuse for her behavior.

God has created us with the full potential and capability to live according to his good and just purpose. To say otherwise is to say God is an unjust God and that His laws are unfair and can not be kept. A. W. Tozer taught this profound truth in a simple manner, “What man ought to do, he can do. Men are accountable only to their obligations. A man cannot be accountable for that which he was not obligated to do,and our obligations are respecting our abilities only, “with all thy”.

I realize this post was more about how we respond when people make comments like the one Kathy did, but if anything we should always expect ALL of mankind to live in a manner that is loving and kind towards his fellow man - this alone is what is known as the 1st truths of reason.

Dean Lusk said...

Okay, I suppose it's possible that I painted with a rather broad brush on this one -- something I thought I was pretty careful not to do.

But I wonder if I considered some of the wider ramifications of the question I asked ("is it correct for the Christ-follower to expect people around him to meet his moral standards of living as prescribed by the Word of God?")

Preston said, "This comment to me gives the impression that we should somehow pity Kathy Griffin for her sinfulness rather than treat her as a rebel." Pity? Absolutely not!! Treat her as a rebel? That depends greatly upon how one treats rebels.

My question was, indeed, intended to get myself and the reader to deeply consider our methods of responses to the various actions and statements of those outside of our faith. Preston, I think, has taken it a bit deeper, which actually is a good thing (he does that a lot, I've noticed!). :)

I really appreciated those comments. Particularly liked this one: "God has created us with the full potential and capability to live according to his good and just purpose."

I'd go so far as to say that not only has God created us with that potential, but that this is the underlying purpose for human life itself -- to walk in fellowship with our Creator, who is holy. It is a purpose which has been distorted, at the core, by sin, and it's a purpose that people in our culture can easily lose sight of with all the other things that are placed in higher standing than God.

Will probably post something that aims a little more specifically toward what I intended to get at, though, regarding reactions, because I still stand by the intent of my post.

Christy said...

I don't think that my initial comment was showing pity, but rather empathy. Before accepting Christ, each one of us did what Kathy did. We might not have made a comment on national TV, but every time we rejected the calling of the Holy Spirit, we were doing the exact same thing - making idols for ourselves. Millions of people may not have heard or seen us, but God certainly did! It was when I finally realized the gravity of my sin and the sacrifice of Jesus and accepted that on faith that it CHANGED me. Telling someone that "if you knew God like I know God" isn't showing pity, it's sharing grace. If I am to go around and treat those who don't KNOW Jesus as rebels, am I not judging them? That's not my place.

Preston N said...

To get back to Dean's original point - how then should we treat someone such as Kathy Griffin, who clearly has a hatred or disdain for God's loving kindness? Do we give them comfort? Do we chastise them or berate them? Do we humiliate them?

I would say that the only thing that will bring a sinner to salvation is for them to ulitmately become so brokenhearted over their sins that this will lead them to repentance (2 Cor 7:9-12). The difficulty that lies in doing this is the fine line that exist between compassion and sympathy. Compassion is the potential for holiness God sees in the lost, but yet recognizes their willful rebellion at the sametime. Sympathy on the other hand is to excuse a sinner because we feel as if they have not chosen their circumstance, but rather it's merely a result of their enviroment or natural condition. Jesus always took compassion on the lost, but never pitied them.

Therefore, when we deal with the lost (aka "rebel") we must be careful not to comfort them in the sense we provide releif from their misery and guilt, for it's there for a good reason - its a device by which will hopefully help bring them back unto God (i.e. Proidigal Son). But rather we love them as Christ loves us. Yes, sometimes that love can be difficult, but the best thing we can do is share with them the gospel and the purpose and intent of the Cross. If they refuse to listen then we have done all we can do and they are in God's hands at that point. As for Kathy Griffin, a chain letter email or a boycott of the A&E Channel will do little to awaken her from her sins, however how many of us would be willing to pray for her or send her a letter expressing our heart break rather than our outrage - maybe this is what Dean was trying to get to. :)

Preston N said...

Christy, First, it was never my intent to single out your comments specifically - so please accept my apologies if I came across that way.

Second, as you stated so well in your post we must all come to the realization that sin is not some simple violation of some rules or standards set forth by God. I would define sin is the "willful disobedience against God known kindness and laws" - this is the very definition of rebellion. Sin is not something that just "happens". Sin is when man willfully determines that his own happiness is the highest importance in this universe and he could care less what effect that has on a benevloent Creator or his fellow man. Sin is rebellion or crimes committed against God's loving kindness - to say otherwise is to diminish sins severity.

As for "judging" then I would ask this question - how does one recognize the difference between saint and sinner? Is this not judging? As Christians are we not called to recognize (or judge) the behaviors or actions of saint and sinners alike? How then do we determine who to witness to or share the gospel with? It is the motives of our judging that God scrutinizes - but not to judge or not to differeintiate between the lost and the saved would be unkind or unloving on our part. As one reads Galatians or Corinthians we clearly see Paul was judging the actions and behaviors of not only fellow beleivers, but also that of the lost in the world.

Christy said...

This may be putting things too simply, but I tend to do that. I interpret the Scriptures as telling us to spread the Gospel to ALL people (the Great Commission), not just those whom *we* see as sinners/rebels. I have no idea what the heart of a person is like, only God does. I think that we should assume that all people we meet are unsaved and therefore share Christ with them. I don't believe that assuming that of someone is judging them. To me, judging is when we look at someone's actions and then look down on that person as if we could never possibly be guilty of that! Again, I'm being too simplistic, I'm sure.
Thanks, Preston.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
What ticks me off about the whole incident is that she has not shown any remorse, any regret whatsoever with her remark. What's worse is that people applauded her comment! She was really offensive, her comedy was in bad taste. We should all boycott her and the people who think this kind of incident can just go unnoticed. Christians/Catholics are very tolerant of things, but this time, we have to say something. Freedom of speech goes hand in hand with responsibility. Kathy Griffin's statement is so callous and there is no way to defend it. That was a clear cut form of blasphemy!

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