The Manhattan Theatre Club has never turned down a play due to content and they aren’t about to do so now even with the threat of violence hanging over them like a curtain about to be lowered.
The ballyhoo is over the production of a drama depicting Jesus as a homosexual who has ongoing sexual relationships with His disciples. The Manhattan Theatre Club has now boldly gone on record that the “show must go on” and such a courageous act affirming artistic freedom is, predictably, being applauded by the intellectual elite.
Sadly, this is nothing new. We’ve been here and done this before. The twist to the story is the phone calls with threats to burn down the theater and kill everyone involved in this play, threats which the police are taking seriously.
Now, none of this shocks me. However. it probably should, and yet this kind of thing has become all too commonplace. But if one is familiar with the New Testament book of Romans, then neither the content of this play nor the resolute determination of this New York theater to produce it should come as any surprise.
The Apostle Paul wrote that people knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat Him like God, refusing to worship Him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives….So God said in effect, “If that’s what you want. that’s what you get.” It wasn’t long before they were living in a pigpen. smeared with filth, filthy inside and out. And all this because they traded the true God for a fake god, and worshiped the god they made instead of the God who made them….They know perfectly well they’re spitting in God’s face. And they don’t care—worse, they hand out prizes to those who do the worst things best!” (Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase).
I think they call those prizes, like Oscars, Tony Awards and Emmys. All too often our culture applauds the worst of the worst, and we even label it art. And if you should dare speak out against such “artistic expressions” you are labeled a bigot and a radical right-wing extremist of the fundamentalist stripe who is a grave threat to an enlightened society.
But here’s what really gets me it seems that Jesus Christ is fair game for anyone who wants to paint, write or film anything about the Savior that is sordid, crass, vile, lude and disgusting to the sensibilities of those who claim to be His followers. All of it, of course, is protected by the Constitution as “free speech.”
However, Jesus is the only religious personage so vilified. For instance, when was the last time you heard about a play depicting Mohammed as a transvestite?
When did you last watch a movie about Buddha that portrayed him to be a bastard son who was confused about his own mission in life (remember “Jesus Christ Superstar”?).
When did you last read a book about Confucius that claimed he was gay?
Did you ever wonder why that is? Could it have something to do, as Paul so clearly points out, with man’s innate hatred for the true and living God? Might it have something to do with the fact that Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life” and that He said “no man comes to the Father but through me” and thus there are not many ways into the Kingdom of God (pluralism)—there is only one?
And to top it off, most Christians really do expect to hear the Father say to them, “Well done my good and faithful servant. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” I’m afraid that the “well done” may likely refer to the way we like our steak versus the way we defended the faith.
May God forgive and help our complacency!
Rev. Gary Cox is minister of Meadowview Reformed Presbyterian Church (PCA).