No Freedom of Speech

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths,
but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs,
that it may benefit those who listen.
Ephesians 4:29

As we exited the Metro station in Washington, D.C., my daughter and I stumbled upon a crowd of 300 to 500 people huddled under umbrellas around a stage bigger than their gathering. In an article I saw later, Huffington Post reporter Kimberly Winston estimated 8,000 to 10,000 people attended the “Reason Rally” Largest Gathering of Nonbelievers. One of us miscounted.

As we made our way to the Tidal Basin that ringed the city, the voice of the rally’s speaker carried clearly across the largely empty grassy area. I only had to listen for a moment to realize two things. First, he was angry. He was railing at people of faith—so angry in fact he was cursing them. I wondered, ironically, what power he felt he had in damning people in the name of a God he didn’t believe in. Second, as I observed the uniformed police officers with fierce looking canines encircling the staging area, I realized they were there not to censor his speech but to protect it. His right to speak—even hateful, damning speech—is guaranteed by the First Amendment to our Constitution.

This unsaved person was exercising a freedom I as a Christian do not have. I can’t curse those who don’t believe as I do. I can’t express hate or disdain for those who criticize what I hold dear. I can’t outshout, bully, or taunt them. I can’t exercise the liberty of free speech because I answer to a higher law. I answer to the Word of God.

Jesus told me, Bless those who curse you (Matthew 5:44, NKJV), speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). I can choose to say angry, bitter, destructive words to those who disagree with me, but should I?

The love of God compels me to do otherwise. James 3:17-18 reads, But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

That day, walking away from the “largest gathering of nonbelievers,” I chose to exercise my God-given freedom of speech. I chose to pray for those who were despitefully using my fellow believers and me (Luke 6:28, NKJV). And I did it out loud.

Ask God for wisdom to know how to respond to those whose right to free speech infringes upon your faith.

***
Your Turn

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How do you respond to those who ridicule your faith?


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LoriHatcherLORI HATCHER

Lori is an author, blogger, and women’s ministry speaker. She shares an empty nest in Columbia, South Carolina, with her ministry and marriage partner, David, and best dog ever, Winston. She’s the editor of Reach Out, Columbia magazine, and has authored two devotional books. You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God. . . Starving for Time . Connect with her on Facebook (Hungry for God), Twitter (@lorihatcher2) or by email (LoriAHatcher@gmail.com).

About Be the Light Editor

Martin Wiles is a minister, author, and freelance editor currently living in Greenwood, SC, and is the founder of Love Lines from God. He is the author of Grits & Grace and God and Grits, Gumbo and Going to Church. He serves as Managing Editor for Christian Devotions (www.christiandevotions.us) and Assistant Editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. He and his wife are parents of two and grandparents of three.

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