Humor can be a funny thing (ba dum bum!).
For those who care to see it, here is the segment [warning: there’s some language and gory violence]:
I am a committed Christian (or, at least, I hope and pray that God thinks so!). But, for what it’s worth, I thought this segment was the funniest thing “Saturday Night Live” has done for a long time.
The joke wasn’t ridiculing Jesus’ identity as the Son of God, Christian beliefs, or Christians generally, but rather the predictable, over-the-top violence and revenge fantasies that characterize Tarantino movies. (And hey, the part where Jesus blows Judas Iscariot away, after telling him “If you get to Heaven, say ‘hi’ to my Dad” is laugh-out-loud funny.)
What makes it funny? The disconnect between our understanding of who Jesus actually is — selfless love, cheap grace, and eager forgiveness — and the vengeful, back-from-the-dead, take-no-prisoners Jesus portrayed in the skit. (The humor works in much the same way as in this famous SNL skit, about Ronald Reagan as Iran-Contra mastermind.)
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those conservatives who routinely dismiss anti-Christian bigotry with eye-rolling and an oh-so-hip plea for everyone to “lighten up!” There is plenty of anti-Christian bigotry around, as I noted some time ago, commenting on a previous NBC offering. And I do think it’s necessary for Christians to push back when truly objectionable stuff appears, because otherwise there’s no end to what the cultural elite will impose upon us.
But — with all the respect in the world for my conservative Christian friends who were genuinely offended — isn’t it important that we pick our battles? This skit isn’t going to change anyone’s view of who Jesus is (the Way, the Truth, and the Life) and what He came to do. The uglier, more dangerous stuff is the insidious entertainment that treats Christianity and Christian principles as hate-filled, bigoted, lacking in compassion and humor, or irrelevant. Things like holding a morals-free sex seminar in a Christian chapel during Lent, to my mind, are far more disrespectful of Christianity and do far more to undermine a right understanding of its principles than this sketch.
I simply don’ think Jesus would be outraged by this. He may take His work on Earth, His love for (and expectations of) us, and His identity as God’s Son with eternal seriousness — but He doesn’t take Himself seriously . . . because He is utterly lacking in unworthy personal pride. Don’t you think Jesus has a sense of humor — and that He might even laugh at the sheer silliness of it all?