So Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.
- John 6.53 (NRSV)A sculpture which was to be exhibited in Manhatten over Easter has been cancelled due to protests from Christians (BBC story here). The artwork depicts a life-sized naked Jesus with arms extended as though crucified (though without a cross) made entirely from chocolate. Appropriately, it is entitled 'My sweet Lord'.*
*I would include an image, but I suspect that would infringe copyright. Just go to the BBC site.
A comment quoted from the lead protester called the piece "an assault on Christians" and went on to say, "They would never dare do something similar with a chocolate statue of the Prophet Mohammed naked with his genitals exposed during Ramadan."
Even if this were an assault on Christians, censorship is not the answer. We don't glorify God by forcefully silencing blasphemy. I have often received emails asking me to contribute to some protest (usually by adding my name to a worthless email petition) against some allegedly scandalous piece of art. I have always declined.
In fact, I think this attitude and approach demonstrates a shallow grasp of art, government and theology. Not only is a chocolate Jesus at Easter at least a mildly interesting comment on contemporary practices of Easter celebration, and not only are Christians not simply one more minority interest group amongst others (who need to stand up for our rights because no one else will), but the quote misses a crucial difference between Christianity and Islam.
Christians worship a Lord whose glory consists in his humble obedience. It was precisely because Jesus was obedient even to the point of a horrendous and shameful death that he received the name above every name, the divine name (Philippians 2.9-11). The pain and humiliation of the cross are therefore not to be hidden away, but consistute the crowning glory of Jesus' faithfulness. To display a naked and vulnerable Jesus, a frail, meltable, edible Jesus is to speak of Christ crucified - foolishness, yet God's wisdom.