Why I’m not Charlie

Charlie Hebdo WM

I am a cartoonist, and I am all for freedom of speech. I can even enjoy satire, as my stockpile of MAD magazines would testify. But first and foremost I am a follower of Jesus Christ, and this comes with a huge implication. My fascination with crazy cartoons and sharp humour is subject to a higher law: The law of love.

“Love” means different things to different people, so the Lord Jesus made it really easy for us not to get confused. He summed it up neatly by saying “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

It is pretty clear: Jesus’ definition of love excludes any form of nastiness or deliberate provocation. This, in my mind, would exclude the type of journalism that has led to this week’s tragic massacre, as well as the type of Hollywood movie that infuriated the North Koreans a few weeks ago.

“But what if I am provoked first?”, you may ask. “Do I not have a responsibility to respond in kind?”

Sorry, Jesus closed this door as well:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

As I am writing, cartoon responses to the Charlie Hebdo massacre are flooding cyberspace. Every single one that I have seen vigorously defends the murdered cartoonists and the rights of satirists to do what these men had been doing for years. I get it. I truly get it. But I get the words of Jesus Christ and Solomon (quoted in the cartoon above) in a much greater way, which is why I have decided to draw a different kind of cartoon depicting a different kind of solidarity.

If you are not a Christian, feel free to ignore this. But if you are one, ask yourself two simple questions:

1. Am I praying for the men who are at the moment the most hated people on the planet? (They may be dead by the time you read this, but there are enough of them to keep you praying for the rest of your life.)
2. Do I love them in the very way that God the Father loves me?

Enough said.


7 thoughts on “Why I’m not Charlie

  1. Chris Lovie-Tyler January 11, 2015 / 12:31 am

    Thanks for sharing this perspective, Tobie. I’ve shared it on Google+. I’m sure some people won’t like it, but it needs to be highlighted–at least for Christians. It reminds me of that post I wrote a few years ago on truth, censorship and love: http://chrislovietyler.com/wielding-truth/

    • Tobie January 11, 2015 / 6:00 am

      Thanks for sharing the post, Chris. And thanks for the link. I just read it and cannot agree more.

  2. Steve Simms January 12, 2015 / 12:28 pm

    Wow! That’s the truth. Love should rule over our “freedom of speech.” Most people agree that the freedom to move my fist stops at their nose, so why shouldn’t I limit my “freedom to cause pain with a pencil”? Because “Je suis en Christ,” love must monitor both my actions and my words. The conversion of violent Saul into loving Paul is an example of what can happen when Christians love their enemies! May I use your cartoon on my blog?. http://stevesimms.wordpress.com/

    • Tobie January 12, 2015 / 1:24 pm

      Hi Steve. Thanks for the insightful comment. I could not agree more. And please use the cartoon on your blog!

  3. errollmulder January 14, 2015 / 7:53 am

    Thanks for this sane and bold word, Tobie. The war of the gods: Allah, Free Speech (one could maybe add one more, ‘Christian’ Fundamentalism: those ‘Christians’ who hate to love and love to hate)…

    • Tobie January 14, 2015 / 9:19 am

      Thanks for the comment, Errol. That’s what we’re ultimately up against. Images of the Father that do not respond with the way in which Jesus revealed Him.

  4. Marinus May 19, 2018 / 6:11 pm

    In a spirit of loving brotherly debate: I think comparing ‘freedom of speech’ as a secular value as it outlined in the first amendment to the American constitution (the bill of rights) and the Christian responsibility of ‘self-censorship’ is a little bit like apples and pears. Even “loving Paul” was not afraid to cause pain with words to the church of Corinth. The ‘freedom’ to carry another persons good twice the distance comes at a great price. In order to be able to do so I need to ‘afford’ another person the right to ‘tell me’ to do so. It is a great evil on the day we tell others they do not have the right to insult the Lord Jesus on the cross. This is a freedom that Jesus himself did not take away from people. In order to even preach ‘the gospel of offence’ we need the freedom to do so. And because we do unto others what we want them to do unto us we do not allow for the oppression of any person’s ideas – no matter how foreign and/or offensive they may seem to us. There is a massive difference between hurting somebody’s body with your physical sword and using the sword of the spirit against them. But even the sword of the spirit has the ability to devastate. Nobody denies that the human tongue is a “restless evil full of deadly poison” that should be bridled but it is a very evil day when we insert a bridle into other people’s mouth’s against their will. I would argue that to allow the oppression of free speech is the greater evil here. I think Christians must and should protect free speech, not at all cost, but at least at great cost. The very preaching of the gospel depends on it.

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