As theological debates on sexuality and marriage become more and more central, many Christian denominations are being asked to clarify their views.
The New Testament writers tell us that God’s honour is not something so fragile that it needs to be protected by legal restrictions.
Christians who get upset about others blaspheming their God are missing the entire point of the Christian Gospel.
The New Testament tells us that the very reason why Jesus came to earth was to be blasphemed. Let’s face it, you can’t really commit any greater blasphemy than spitting in the face of God and then nailing Him to a piece of wood!
By recording this blasphemous treatment of God the Son in all its gory details, the New Testament writers tell us that God’s honour is not something so fragile that it needs to be protected by legal restrictions. The Gospel message is that the love and grace of Jesus is robust enough to transform blasphemy into something worth celebrating. This was the paradox that turned Saul, a self-confessed blasphemer (1 Timothy 1:13), into the apostle Paul.
As a Christian, I obviously disagree with Stephen Fry’s comments about God. However, it is ludicrous that Gardaí (the Irish police) should waste their time and public money investigating whether he should be prosecuted. In a pluralist society, it is inevitable that one person’s firmly held religious (or non-religious) beliefs are blasphemous to somebody else.
For example, it is a core Christian belief that Jesus is God’s Son – yet this would be considered blasphemous by some Muslims. Equally, the core Muslim belief that God has no son is blasphemous to some Christians.
So, are we grown-up enough to discuss our differences? Or are we going to cry for the law to silence anything that might offend us?
Laws against blasphemy stifle genuine debate and, ultimately, that can only harm religious faith and religious freedom. It is not often I find myself agreeing with Senator Ivana Bacik, but she is undoubtedly correct when she states that Ireland’s blasphemy law encourages repressive regimes that use similar legislation to persecute minorities.
Those who truly believe in God should realise that He is big enough to look after Himself without needing any assistance from the Gardaí.
Nick Park, Executive Director, Evangelical Alliance Ireland.