In a rather unusual story this week from Perth, Australia, a man who is apparently a church-going Christian has deliberately thrown a pie in the face of the CEO of one of Australia’s largest and most popular companies.
Alan Joyce, the chief executive officer of Qantas, Australia’s unofficial national airline, was delivering a keynote speech at a Business Leadership event, when a man in his sixties wearing a business suit walked onto the stage and lauched a lemon meringue pie into his face.
Mr Joyce with more grace and composure than one would expect after having been the victim of such an assault, walked off the stage, cleaned himself up and then returned to continue with his speech. Admittedly he was without his jacket but still managed to joke with his audience by saying “Now, if there are any more pies can you get it over with now?”.
But now for the story behind the story.
The man who threw the pie, Mr Tony Overheu, is a former farmer, church goer, and believer of traditional marriage. Mr Joyce is an openly gay man and one of 20 chief executives of Australia’s largest companies who recently signed a joint letter in support of same sex marriage.
Apparently Mr Overheu threw the pie as some type of push back against business leaders who are overstepping the line in telling the community what is and is not acceptable.
Now we here at Christian Funny Pictures enjoy a good practical joke like the next person. In fact we have posted about many of them over the years. But as a political statement what Mr Overheu did is poorly thought out. In legal terms, it is criminal and Mr Overheu will most likely face court on allegations of assault.
But as a theological statement, as Christian behaviour and conduct, it is dangerously misguided. It’s a disgrace. It’s criminal. It’s sinful.
Why? As Christians we are taught to expect persecution. Not just when things go wrong for us, as that happens to everyone. But when we proclaim the name of Jesus, we should expect there is going to be some opposition. If we live in a country where we still have the freedom to proclaim the message of grace and forgiveness that only comes through Jesus, then praise God, be thankful and do everything within the realms of loving thy neighbour to protect it. But to think that we can proclaim the name of Jesus by picking up the sword, or a pie, and somehow advance the kingdom in that way, is folly, pure and simple.
Christians are the ones who when the going gets tough we rely more heavily on God, not on our own illegal actions. Christians are the ones who even when people turn against us, whether it be friends, family, colleagues or whole communities we still treat them with dignity. Christians should turn the other cheek (whether there is pie on our face or not) and should be models of grace, forgiveness, and tolerance, even for those with whom we disagree entirely. We need to love our enemies not throw pies in their faces.
Jesus says in the Bible “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw stones”, which is a long way from saying “Let him who is without self control throw a pie at someone you disagree with”. In fact for Christians it should be the very opposite. We should be examining the things in our own life that are worthy of having a pie thrown at us, our faults, our failures, and the way we have let others down. We should be asking Mr Overhue (and perhaps ourselves), “Why do you look at the crumb in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the entire pie on your own face?”
Is defending traditional marriage important? Of course it is, perhaps more so now than ever before. But we should defend it with love, truth, kindness and patience, not lemon meringue pies.