We've seen stranger things during the Christmas season, but Netflix's latest stunt isn't turning out to be a blockbuster with Christians. It's supposed to be a comedy, but most Brazilians -- where the show originated -- aren't laughing. "The First Temptation of Christ" is about a Jesus who identifies as gay, "has relations," and refuses to preach the Bible -- a not-so-side-splitting plot to a predominately Catholic nation. In fact, the idea is so controversial that more than 1.8 million people have signed a Portuguese petition calling on Netflix to pull this "clear attack on Christianity" and issue an apology.
Frankly, the site's decision to air such an offensive show isn't surprising. This is what the world does. We can't expect a business that's not based in the truths of the Bible to give a fair representation of Jesus. But what Netflix has done has gone far beyond giving an alternate explanation. The choice to put this on their platform is a deliberate choice to make a mockery not only of Christians, but of the Christ they follow.
The wisdom of offering a show that would trample underfoot the object of worship of millions of people -- not just in America but worldwide -- shows that the decision to run the show isn't one based in business principles. There's no way that the monetary value of a show like this will outweigh what they'll lose in terms of their viewers' trust. It's been said before, you don't see Netflix offering a similar scenario featuring Muhammad, or Buddha, or any other religious figure. They'll attack Jesus because they think it won't cause them any problems with Christians.
Christians need to see this for what it really is: Netflix is pushing the boundaries hoping to normalize the notion that God is created in our own image, instead of the other way around. This is an age-old lie that's been around since the beginning of time. It's time Christians wake up to the fact that corporations like Netflix will keep moving in this direction (after all, it's their natural inclination.) Our voices will be trampled along with everything that's holy if we don't speak up and when necessary turnover a few tables.
No one is saying that Netflix doesn't have the right to feature this show. As far as offering the film in the United States is concerned, the First Amendment applies. Government censorship only transfers the burden of responsibility to someone else. They have the right, but that doesn't mean it is right. As consumers the world over, we have a stewardship responsibility to speak up and take a stand. It's good to see so many people in Brazil calling on Netflix to reconsider. I hope they'll listen to their viewers (or at least, former viewers).
Will American Christians continue to keep Netflix in their watchlist? I pray we don't have to wait until next season to find out.