A recent incident occurred on Halloween. A woman dressed up in a tasteless Halloween costume depicting a bloodied Boston Marathon runner.
This is a link to the article reviewing the incident, which I have seen posted all over facebook. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/03/boston-marathon-victim-costume_n_4208720.html
I had someone ask me my thoughts on this incident, so I’ll share. 3 main points come to mind.
(1) First of all, obviously it was incredibly stupid for her to do this. That is pretty much universally agreed upon. She even admits that. It was disgusting, and insensitive and downright cruel to the people who suffered… BUT…
(2) Did she have a right to do this? Yes. In America we have the right to make whatever statements we want, in as poor of taste as we want, without legal action being taken as long as that expression does not violate some other law (such as public nudity, murder, rape, etc…). To my mind this right was best solidified in the Supreme Court case Texas v. Johnson when the right to burn American flags as an expression of free speech was upheld. It’s appalling, and disgusting, and in incredibly poor taste to do so, but it is a right that we have as Americans.
The fundamental right to free speech, and freedom of expression, is foundational to the fabric of America. The KKK has a constitutional right to exist. NAMBLA has a constitutional right to promote their views. As long as they don’t act on their views in a way that would break other laws, the First Amendment of The Constitution protects them. America is bound by its very existence to protect their right to these views. Being clear, I despise these views as they are pretty much downright evil, but that doesn’t change the fact that these people are allowed to have these views and express them in a civil manner, like dressing up in a Halloween costume, for example.
(3) I am struck by the reaction of the people on the social media outlets. I am reminded of a few verses in the bible.
1 Peter 3:8-9, “To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.”
Also, Romans 12:17-21, “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. ‘But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
These verses speak for themselves, and fly in the faces of the reactions of many people to this abomination of a Halloween costume. We are called to repay evil with good. As stated in point one, we all agree that this costume was not good, and this free expression can be categorized as evil, but our response should not be more evil. Her insult to the Marathon runners should not be repaid with insults. Her evil cannot overcome us; we must overcome her evil with good.
I am appalled to see strong Christian soldiers writing some of the hate speech I have seen toward this woman. It is unchristian to do so. For all we know, she is lost. How can you expect someone who does not have the guiding conviction of the Holy Spirit to know and hate sin when she sees it? Why are you surprised by sin when it appears in the lives of those who live in it, not apart from it?
We are to speak the truth in love, and to turn the other cheek when this kind of evil is expressed. We are not to remain silent, we are not to support the evil, we are not supposed to agree with the evil, and we are by no means supposed to sink to the same level as the evil. Jesus taught that we should turn the other cheek, and I think we can all agree that this costume was a slap to the face for all of the sympathizers to the loss of life at the Boston Marathon.
The truth is that this costume was appalling and disrespectful. That’s the truth that we are supposed to speak, but we are supposed to do it in love brothers and sisters, not in hate. I dislike the fact that the cultural relativists have trademarked the “no h8” phrase, because it’s a Christian sentiment. Let’s reclaim it for what it really means. “No hate” does not mean complete tolerance and a refusal to uphold what is true and good. It means standing firm and defending the truth of God, in a compassionate, and respectful, and forgiving way, while refusing to allow evil to overcome us.