Monday, April 18, 2011
CHRISTIANS UNCLEAR ON THE CONCEPT
I read today that Andres Serrano's "Piss Christ" photograph was destroyed by Christian protesters as it hung in the Avignon museum in Paris.
Certainly, I do not believe that the artist himself created this work in order to communicate any deep spiritual truth. Perhaps he did, I'm not sure really. But, as a follower of Christ and a student of Scripture, I do not find his artwork disturbing or offensive - at least not in the way that most Christians are offended by it.
If you're not familiar with Serrano's work, it is a photograph of a crucifix immersed in what is purported to be a glass jar of the artist's own urine. Hence the name, "Piss Christ."
The title itself is probably what most Christians find offensive. The idea of "Christ" being associated with "Piss" is scandalous. Of course, if you understand the Gospel message, then you should already be used to such a scandalous idea.
Because when Jesus left His perfect, holy throne in Glory and let go of His majesty and power, and inserted Himself into the womb of a teenage girl, and allowed Himself to become a baby, born in a stable that smelled of dung and animal urine, it was indeed the most scandalous act in the History of the Universe.
For me, Serrano's "Piss Christ" is theologically accurate and artistically beautiful. It is probably one of the most profound and moving works of Christian art I've seen in my lifetime. What could be more amazing than the truth which this art communicates so powerfully and effectively?
Jesus, the Son of God, humbled himself and entered our world of filth and repugnant sinfulness in order to express his unending love for all mankind.
Some of us who call ourselves Christians want to keep Jesus above the common and the lowly. We don't want to see Jesus wallowing in our sin, touching prostitutes, hugging lepers, kissing tax collectors, and forgiving adultress women. But that is who Jesus is. This is what the Gospel is all about.
If Jesus is really to be "God with us" then we have to allow Him to actually be "with us" and we are more sinful and dirty than we care to admit.
Maybe that's what's really going on? Maybe what we're most offended by is the idea that WE are immersed in our own piss and feces of sin? Maybe Serrano's art reminds us of our absolute and utter filthiness and exposes our dark and sinful hearts?
I don't know for sure, but I will tell you this: If we cannot allow a Holy God to leave His throne and become one of us, and swim in our filth, and suffer and die in our place - even at our hands - then we cannot call ourselves "Christians", because this is at the very heart of the Gospel message.