Christians respond to The Joke

Justine Toh on Chris Rock's response to The Slap, Christians' response to The Joke on The Project, and how to respond when insulted.

We talk about the stars aligning but what about news stories?

This week, Chris Rock responded to The Slap, the moment when Will Smith hit him during the 2022 Oscars broadcast in response to a dumb, insensitive joke about Jada Pinkett-Smith.

Over the past week, Christians have responded to The Joke, an ill-timed and insensitive Jesus sex joke Reuben Kaye cracked on The Project.

Common to both stories: comedian, bad joke, live TV. The incendiary combination presents a test case: if I’m insulted, how might I respond?

Chris Rock kept silent for a year, only to unleash in a 10-minute tirade in his latest Netflix special Selective Outrage. (A title that only gets more ironic). Clearly upset, Rock tore further into Will and Jada. The moral? If you’ve been attacked, retaliate. No fists needed if your words can eviscerate.

As for the other joke, the Facebook group “Christian Lives Matter” – what the actual heck – rallied 30 men last Friday night to chant the Lord’s Prayer in the inner-city suburb of Newtown. Someone hired a skywriter to declare “Jesus is Lord” across Sydney’s sunny skies this past Sunday – just as a reported 50,000 people marched across the Harbour Bridge for WorldPride.

The Christian vibe here isn’t violent, but neither does it feel like Jesus.

Clearly, the stories aren’t the same. I also *want* people to freely defend their insulted dignity. But I’m left marvelling at Jesus, who was a master at short-circuiting the instinct to lash out. His call to ‘turn the other cheek’ when someone offends you can sound like an invitation to further abuse. Maybe it’s a call to do something – anything – better than what you’ve been dealt, to send more grace into a world sorely in need of it.

Image credit to @chrisrock