BBC Radio Leicester Thought for the Day
© John Denney 10 January 2005
They say 1.7 million viewers watched “Jerry Springer – the Opera” on BBC2 on Saturday night. Doubtless, the controversy about the programme led to more people than usual tuning in. Perhaps they wanted to count for themselves the huge number of extreme swear words in the production. A BBC spokesman said that in fact only 300 or so instances of extreme swearing occurred, not the thousands claimed. So that’s all right, then. Mind you, if you turned over to watch Billy Connolly on BBC1, you would have heard more than a few swear words from him. Between the two programmes, I’d think that the Beeb’s cuss quota for the next few years has been used up. How standards have fallen.
But the real hullabaloo was about the insulting treatment of God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary. This is not just a matter of free speech versus vested interests. Many Christians have been deeply offended by the insolence shown to the object of their faith. And a record 45000 people made their disapproval known before the broadcast. Some even spoke of this as blasphemy – and indeed, it seems to fit the definitions.
The law of blasphemy is under examination right now. Is it needed? Should it extend to non-Christian religions? Now, the law of blasphemy is not there to protect God. God needs no protection from us. It is not even there to protect the feelings of Christians. There’s no doubt but that the offence to Christians of the Jerry Springer musical being broadcast on a publicly-financed public-service television channel is very great. But Christians are supposed to be able to turn the other cheek to abuse of their faith. (Maybe that’s why people with an anti-religious agenda prefer to attack Christianity rather than other, more militant, religions.)
No, the fundamental reason for the law of blasphemy is to protect blasphemers themselves from God’s wrath. It is a core belief of Christians that there will be a Day of Judgement, when each and every one of us – that’s me, and you – will be called to account by God for our actions and our attitudes. Unrepentant sinners will be separated out and, though it’s not popular to say so these days, consigned to hell. That’s the very reason that God sent Jesus – to save people from hell. Those who have unashamedly insulted Him, and those who have assisted them in broadcasting their blasphemies are in great peril.
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
 Galatians 6:7 (NIV)