It was the slap heard around the world.
This past Sunday I was in Brooklyn New York where I did some preaching and teaching. Sunday night is when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock during the Oscars. Needless to say I was shocked at what happened. I’ve been thinking about it a lot the last few days. I’ve listened to others who have shared their opinions. I want to share a few thoughts from three view points.
The Worldly Perspective
From the world’s perspective there have been a lot of views like:
- “Will Smith was simply protecting his wife. Good for him for standing up to Chris Rock.”
- “If you disrespect me I’m going to disrespect you as well.”
- “If you start something then I’m going to finish it!”
- “An eye for an eye.”
While some have felt this way, there have also been others who view what Will did as sickening as well. What I have found interesting is how people who profess to be agnostic have come out and said what Will did was wrong. That raises the question of who and what is the standard when it comes to what’s right or wrong. It’s wrong in their eyes, but why? In Will’s eyes it was right! So who is exactly right? This is the problem agnostics and atheists have to deal with and can’t fully answer with their worldview.
I will admit to you that when I saw what Will did, there was something inside of me that connected with his action. And that’s not a good thing! Growing up I had a lot of anger issues. I would often threaten people and tell them how I was going to kill them when I got upset. I also got a LOOOOTTT of whoopings and discipline from my mom. I’m thankful she and my grandmother loved me enough to discipline me. More kids need that today. There was a moment in college when I lost my cool and hit one of my friends. He came home drunk from the bars. He said something about my mom. It was not good. I lost control and I should not have done it. I still had a choice to make and I failed in that moment.
The world advocates vengeance at all costs to protect family, the family name, or something else. It’s often the plot of most of the movies that are out there. But the worldly perspective is not the one we should follow. The apostle Paul spoke about the deeds of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21. Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Rather, we are to be led by the Spirit, Galatians 5:22-26. That includes self-control.
I often think about Genesis 4:6-7 where God told Cain:
'Why are you angry?' And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but must master it."
Sin was crouching at Will’s door. He failed to master it. I too have been guilty of that as well. Have you?
The Christian Perspective
As I think about the events that unfolded Sunday, my mind went to the scriptures. One in particular is Matthew 5:38-39 where Jesus said,
You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also."
These words are challenging. It can be easy to dismiss these verses or to soften them. I do believe one has the right to defend themselves. And yet there was no physical danger for Will or Jada. I think about Jesus on the cross where he did not retaliate with evil. I know the argument is that Jada has a physical condition. I don’t know the truth about what Chris knew about her situation.
Did Will overreact? Yes! His action ruined the evening for himself and everyone else. As many have noted, no one is talking about the other winners. We’re not even discussing the fact that Will Smith won an OSCAR! We’re only considering his actions. That’s the danger of anger in the heat of the moment.
What also stood out to me was how Chris responded. He responded in a way that a lot of people probably would not have responded. He didn’t curse. He didn’t retaliate. He tried to communicate with Will when he said it was just a joke. I don’t know what Chris believes with respect to Jesus and the Bible, but his response is noteworthy. This entire situation is a reminder of the danger of anger, Ephesians 4:26.
Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.
A man by the name of Nehemiah is a great example of how to handle anger when it arises.
Then I was very angry when I had heard their outcry and these words. I consulted with myself and contended with the nobles and the rulers and said to them, 'You are exacting usury, each from his brother!"
Anger is a powerful emotion! Standing up for our wives is a noble thing to do. And yet, we are to do it while being under control. What could have Will done? He could have communicated during the commercial break to Chris how he was offended. There was apparently plenty of time to do that. He could have mentioned something in his acceptance speech. There were a number of avenues he could have used to correct the issue.
I also think about Will and Jada and what they have shared with respect to their marriage. If I’m correct, they have an open marriage. That is not God’s plan. One can read Genesis 2:24-25; Ephesians 5:25-33. God created marriage for ONE Man and ONE Woman. The sexual relationship is for that man and woman in marriage. An open marriage will never work. People can deceive themselves thinking that it will, but it will not. God’s way is always the best way. I believe it was in 2021 when Jada on her television show shared with Will her affair. I could see the pain (at least I thought it was pain in Will’s eyes) as he sat there and listened to her. I’m wondering now (as many others are as well) how much that embarrassment led to this moment. It looked like he finally snapped! I don’t know. Maybe there is no connection. But maybe there is. Maybe Will reached a breaking point with him and his family being the brunt of jokes.
I will say that if Chris knew about Jada’s condition, he should not have said the joke. It appears that he didn’t. I’m glad Will did apologize to Chris the next day via Instagram. What would have been really amazing is if he would have done it during his acceptance speech. I wonder if the crowd of actors would have given him a standing ovation? It’s hard to admit our sins. But it’s something we are called to do.
The Black Perspective
Maybe I’ve been drawn to this situation because it’s WILL SMITH and CHRIS ROCK! Two black men who have risen to a certain level in Hollywood. I’m not saying I’m advocating what they believe or sometimes do. But it’s WILL SMITH and CHRIS ROCK. Will Smith is a guy I’ve been watching for a long time. His movie Independence Day was a classic! People still listen and sing to his music. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was one of the top shows when I grew up.
I was listening to Retired NFL Tight End Shannon Sharpe on one of his podcasts earlier today. He said some things that got me thinking about the black perspective regarding this event. Many in the black community are highly disappointed. These kinds of moments don’t often happened for blacks.
Few blacks have won an Oscar. Will Smith is the fifth black man to win an Oscar for a leading role. From a black perspective it’s sad his moment was lost (along with other black winners) that evening.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar spoke about how this event feeds the stereotypes many have towards blacks in how most are violent in nature. And now Will Smith has gone down that same path!
Many will understand this perspective while others will not. I wish the whole situation could have been handled in a different way.
What about us? It’s easy to talk about other people. But what about us?
- How will we respond to others when we’re offended?
- How will we respond in our homes?
- How will we respond when brethren hurt us?
I pray that WE will respond in a way that is pleasing to God.
Do you agree or disagree with what I’ve shared? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
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