What does God say about free speech?
God asks us to reason before we use the freedom of speech He has given us, Eccl 5:2, “Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.” He wants us tochoose our words carefully, so His light is shared with as many as possible, Eph 6:20, “For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” When we spew out our first thoughts before we reason with them, we are more likely to spread the evil we have heard, than the truth of God’s Word, Prov 29:20, “Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him.” A reasoned response, seasoned with the common sense of God’s Word is always the best, Col 4:6, “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”
When we truly hear all sides of an issue and reason with them, the truth stands out, 1 Thes 5:21, “Test all things; hold fast what is good.” There are only two ways we are kept from the truth, someone prevents us from hearing it or we refuse to reason with it. The first way is why we should always defend everyone’s right to free speech, as Evelyn Beatrice Hall did when she wrote in The Friends of Voltaire, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Once we hear the truth we are left with the choice God intended, either we reason with it until we accept it or we decide to go our own way, Prov 14:12, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Of course, God would prefer we follow His way, rather than choosing to go our own way to its final conclusion, Eze 18:32, “For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.”
God does not want us to use the freedoms He has provided evilly, 1 Pet 2:15-16, “For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.” As servants of God we are to live by the fruit of the Spirit, Gal 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” God wants us to use the freedom of speech He has given us to spread His light, Matt 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Free speech is not a license for foolishness any more than are any of the freedoms He has allowed us, Prov 15:2, “The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.” He allows us these freedoms so that we might have both sides of all issues before we make our final decisions.
God asks us to allow our neighbors unbridled free speech so that everyone can make their own decisions about eternity, Jam 3:2-3,“For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.” When we attempt to bridle the free speech of others, we are only trying to bend them and others who might hear what they have to say, to our beliefs, against their will. God knows our free speech will define us to be either sheep or goats. When we finally accept the truth, it sets us free, Jn 8:32, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Free to hear the opinions of others without the fear they might control us and free to speak the truth without shame, for we are all part of His eternal family, if we choose to be, Eph 4:25, “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.”
God asks us to spread His truth by living it, Zech 8:16, “These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates:” But, only after we have reasoned with God to verify it is the truth, Is 1:18, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” After reasoning comes discernment, which decides our eternal future, Matt 12:37, “For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” The hypocrite is not interested in the truth, nor in his neighbor’s well being, Prov 11:9, “An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered.”
Freedom of speech does not guarantee everything said will be pleasant, or truthful. However, it does mean Christians will be allowed to spread God’s truth and thus many will hear who would not otherwise have had that opportunity, Eph 4:15, “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:” Isn’t everyone entitled to hear all sides of an issue before they are required to decide what they will believe? Only free speech provides this opportunity. Does God not give us all the freedom to hear and see what evil promotes, so that we may have all sides of the issue before we decide our eternal future? Can we do less?
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