“And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.” -Psalm 119:45
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” -First Amendment to the United States Constitution
What would the founding fathers think of the nation they have birthed? They asserted this freedom as an inalienable right endowed by God, the freedom of expression. Still, most of the founding fathers espoused at least the basic tenets of Christianity and could likely have had no idea just where that thought would take us in a mere two hundred years. The concept of free speech has been used especially in the last century to defend the right to publish increasingly obscene and violent materials. On the other hand, religious speech is often censored citing political correctness i.e. hate speech.
Freedom is a concept which comes from the very origin of life according to the Bible. Adam and Eve were granted freedom in the garden of Eden. However, this freedom was not limitless, there was one tree which they were not allowed to eat from. It was in this, Adam failed in his responsibility to protect his wife. He did not seek the precepts of God in deciding to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. In Christianity, freedom has always been coupled with responsibility.
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”-John 8:31-32
Notice Jesus said it is in learning of Him that brings freedom. It is not in the learning of some natural right or philosophical inheritance, that we are made free but in the following of Christ. Who the son sets free, is free indeed (v.36). This is, perhaps, often overlooked: this may be the reason we find ourselves as Christians fighting seemingly contrary battles or fighting alongside unlikely allies.
Should Christians defend others’ ‘right’ to do evil? God forbid.
This is the problem when using an argument strictly from the constitution rather than the Bible. When we use a free speech defense we must realize the same defenses are being made for sinful practices like pornography or violent video games. We are warned repeatedly in the New Testament to not allow our liberty to become a stumbling-block for others (Ga. 5:1,13; I Co. 6:12;8:9; II Co. 3:17; I Pt. 2:16). If we do not make a distinction in this argument we become guilty of doing just that.
“And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:” -Galatians 2:4
The defense of pornography and violent video games has become a battle ground where even the most liberal of our society find themselves at odds with each other. The problem they have found themselves in is this: in removing God from the argument, they have removed the standard of morality by which they may clearly judge. The court has had many rounds deciding what is in fact obscene and the envelope will inevitably be pushed towards depravity barring intervention from God or His people.
The Greek word which pornography stems from is a word for writing about prostitutes. The Bible view would confirm this clearly as any sexual activity outside of the boundaries of marriage is considered whoredom or fornication. While the liberal view rejects these definitions, they are stuck in a dilemma with no clear definition of terms. With the recent rise in awareness of the evils of sex trafficking; the connection between traffickers and pornography are increasingly apparent. In the ultra-liberal publication, The Huffington Post, a blog was published in March of 2015 bringing up the correlation of trafficking and pornography, “Want to Stop Sex Trafficking? Look to America’s Porn Addiction”. The article speaks of the fact that pornography will groom men to become willing to use prostitutes as well as the use of prostitutes in the making of pornographic material. They are stuck with no answer for to keep their free speech, they believe they must tolerate this nonsense. We as Christians should never want our pleas for free speech to imitate these who defend such grievous acts.
Another area where the free speech argument is being used wrongfully is in the defense of homosexuality. “Pride” parades have sprung up in every major city in America, these are a source of increasing debauchery. Beginning in 1970, these parades and the culture which surrounds them has (as was spoken above) pushed the envelope of sexual immorality. It is moving even now to normalize even the vilest forms of perversity such as; pedophilia and the enabling of transgender children. Again, because the standard of God has been removed there is no end to the discussion as to what is right and wrong.
How then should Christians argue and stand for their rights without aligning themselves with such contrary forces? Well by no other means then standing on the Word of God. It is time to force society to see the truth of God’s word.
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” -Romans 13:1-4
These verses are often abused to make Christians feel compelled to obey ungodly authority. However, a right reading and understanding shows this to be a notice to those in authority as well as its subjects. When preachers speak against pornography, violent video games, homosexuality it is not for an evil intent. Rather it is with the best good (for both society and individuals) in mind that we warn people of the evil of their ways. Therefore, when officers of the law declare some speech off limits or hate speech, they do so against the precept of the law-giver (there is no power but of God). This defense may not stand up in the court of men, but when we as Christians do this we are appealing to a higher court and we are serving notice of God’s ultimate authority.
Paul warned us that in the last days men would be lovers of evil rather than good and we can see this clearly taking place. In a nation which boasts of itself of freedom the rights of the just are being suppressed while the rights of the wicked are defended continually. This year on the Fourth of July two preachers were arrested while those around them called their preaching hate speech. This is a powerful visualization of the hypocrisy of our wicked nation. Edgar and Dianne Orea were arrested for doing good, preaching against those who love evil. The officers involved in this arrest will stand before a holy judge one day and will give account for their misuse of the authority granted them.
It may be that we, like the Oreas and many others have shown by example, must suffer arrest. We may, as preachers, face allegations even jail time, let us do so with dignity. Let our defense not be so much rooted in natural rights of free speech, as it is in our right to express our religious convictions. This is an important distinction to make: to keep us from being lumped in with the other causes already mentioned.
We preach the Gospel out of love for those who hear us. We warn sinners of the coming judgment out of an earnest belief in what God’s word clearly says. This right didn’t come from the U.S. Constitution, but from God Himself. If we use the free speech argument, as is our right, let it be a secondary argument. Let it first be known that we are above all appealing to men for the sake of the common good. God has given us this charge and we should be sure to point all the credit to Him. To God be the glory, come what may, let us keep on preaching the Gospel in season and out of season, with power and all authority. When we are accused let the world look upon our good works as a testimony against them, reminding them of their own duty, “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil”.
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