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Actor Will Smith slapping comedian Chris Rock at the 2022 Academy Awards has ignited conversation over insults, protecting family, violence, and the devil, presenting a learning lesson for all. What would Jesus do?

The Oscars un-finest moment: Will Smith slaps Chris Rock

It’s a moment that will go down in Academy Awards history. Comedian Chris Rock made an unkind joke toward Jada Pinkett-Smith, wife of actor Will Smith, who responded with violence and later profanity.

video of the moment can be seen on YouTube, courtesy of the Guardian. (*Warning: Strong language)

Chris Rock’s joke poked fun at Jada’s hair loss from the condition alopecia areata.

On the surface, one might think it understandable that Will Smith would have a strong reaction to Rock belittling his wife over a medical condition she cannot help.

However, were any of Smith’s reactions to how a faithful follower of Jesus Christ should have handled the situation?

Rock literally “turned the other cheek,” not striking back and even stopping himself from making a verbal retort.

As Christians, we not only can learn from what Smith did – but also what he did not do afterward.

Lessons from the Oscars 2022

Let’s take a look at a few areas of consideration amid the events that happened in the Will Smith slap of Chris rock at the Oscars and what occurred in the aftermath.

Insult

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

– Proverbs 15:1

On the one hand, we know it is the job of comedians to poke fun at or “roast” the attendees in the room and even those who may not be in attendance.

On the other hand, when does a joke go too far? Is it appropriate to joke about someone’s disability or medical condition? While hair loss isn’t as debilitating as the ability to walk, making a joke about it is belittling someone for a situation beyond their control that they didn’t ask for or cause on their own.

After seeing Jada’s reaction on her face after making the joke, Rock said: “That was a nice one, okay.” He was trying to smooth the jab over, but perhaps a better approach would have been to admit, “Okay, I went too far on that one. Sorry.” Such a statement may have diffused the situation.

Violence

“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.'”

–Romans 12:19

This one should go without saying. Violence is never the solution to a situation, especially when the offense is verbal.

As Christians, we cannot condone violence, nor can we condone taking revenge. God commands us to be forgiving.

Jesus was reviled, persecuted, insulted, and beaten. Yet, he brought no violence in return.

“When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.”

–1 Peter 2:23

Foul-language threat

“But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.”

–Colossians 3:8

“Will Smith just smacked the [expletive] out of me,” Rock said from the podium after being struck.

Smith returned to his seat.

“Keep my wife’s name out your [expletive] mouth,” Smith yells from his seat at Rock, who is still talking on stage.

“Wow, dude,” Rock says.

“Yes,” Smith says.

“It was a G.I. Jane joke,” Rock says.

“Keep my wife’s name out your [expletive] mouth,” Smith repeats.

“I’m going to, okay?” Rock replies.

At this point, Smith is still in “fight” mode, now launching a verbal assault.

Note how the Bible equates obscene speech with other evils in the verse above.

Denzel Washington warns of devil

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

–1 Peter 5:8

At the commercial break, actor Denzel Washington consoled Smith, telling him: “Be careful at your highest moment – that’s when the devil comes for you.”

Washington makes a valid point all of us should remember. We are engaged in spiritual warfare, and the devil “prowls like a roaring lion” waiting to take advantage of us at a weak moment, tempt us, stir up our anger, and lead us to ruin.

Apologies and forgiveness

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

–Ephesians 4:31-32

Smith began his speech by comparing how his role as King Richard was about a “protector of his family,” the Express reported, apparently alluding that he was protecting his family by striking Rock.

Smith then apologized. “I want to apologize to the Academy. I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees.”

However, Smith did not apologize to Chris Rock. Perhaps he will in time.

As Christians, we know what Jesus would do. He would forgive. Jesus said:

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

–Matthew 6:14-15