Who decides what is sacred and what’s not?

Should it be illegal to disrespect God? Some may have noticed this week that actor and comedian Stephen Fry was investigated by the Irish police for blasphemy. Here is some of what he said:

“Bone cancer in children? What’s that about? How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that is not our fault? It’s not right. It’s utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?”

He continues by describing God as “quite clearly a maniac”, asking, “We have to spend our life on our knees thanking him? What kind of God would do that?” It is an interesting case. First of all because the police were involved. Why?

According to the online Oxford dictionary, “blasphemy” is defined as, “… speaking sacrilegiously about God or sacred things”. We then look up “sacrilege” to find this: “Violation or misuse of what is regarded as sacred”. So who decides what is sacred or not? Surely this is more within the domain of clergy than the police.

And what about Mr Fry’s claims? Well, to start off with, it is pretty old news. There are many people who ask God why the righteous suffer while the evil prosper. Quite a few of them are in the Bible (Psalm 73, Jeremiah 12:1). A wise man in the Bible even made this observation, “There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: the righteous who get what the wicked deserve, and the wicked who get what the righteous deserve. This too, I say, is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 8:14 NIV). So what is going on?

The Bible may not give us specific reasons why children we know get bone cancer. It does tell us though that God actually does understands how it feels when your child is suffering (Matthew 27:46) and he shares our pain (Hebrews 4:15). The Scriptures have never been shy to admit the world is broken but God will fix it all one day (Revelation 21:4-5).