The Problem with Parody

This article saying idolatry is OK is a parody. It isn’t hard to see the target. And while I think it makes a point, it highlights for me the limits of humor. First, it isn’t really an effective argument or persuasive. Even if you want to argue the analogy (relatively fair game), making it into the parody form probably means those who disagree won’t agree. And let’s be frank – the analogy has enough problems that I don’t think it’s a great argument. Humor just doesn’t normally work this way. Some types of mockery might work against some arguments, but not strongly held ones or ones with a good degree of popularity, I think. To be more specific…

Problem #1 – the relative frequency and clarity of teaching on idolatry in both testaments is far greater than for many other issues. And it is especially powerful in the clear contrast to the polytheism of other surrounding cultures for much of biblical history. Problem #2 – there isn’t the possibility of genetic or other arguments that might cause some (whether advisedly or not) to reconsider the idolatry question (e.g., no “gene” for idolatry; no way an ethic of expressing love as an integral part of humanness could require a response). Try to take the kind of arguments that the more sophisticated and careful arguments on homosexuality and plug them into idolatry and it just doesn’t work. Comparing with the case of slavery for example (which the Bible never explicitly condemns) shows there are some more complex issues here. I still uphold the traditional view, just not so sure this is helpful.

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