Free Speech and Hate

I quickly typed up the following lines yesterday after reading a report about how the Supreme Court overturned the Lower Courts’ decisions that had favored the Snyder family:

The Supreme Court’s decision yesterday gives me pause for a couple of reasons.

1) More and more, any word spoken against the act of homosexuality on the basis of Biblical prohibition of the act will cause the speaker to be lumped into the same category as Fred and the Phelpsigans (combination of “Phelps” and “hooligans” – my own word creation).

2) At some point, someone is going to react violently to one of these funeral protests.

I stopped typing at that point, thinking that last statement might have been too strong, not wanting to be perceived as an instigator if my “observation” was taken as a “suggestion” (which it certainly is not!).   Interestingly, it is almost exactly what Albert Snyder said to reporters later in the day.  Snyder is the father of the fallen Marine whose 2006 funeral was protested by WBC members.

The first point actually is my greater personal concern, since it speaks to what I am (a Christian) and what I do (teach and preach the Bible).  Of course, Christians have been hated and misunderstood by non-Christians since the events recorded in Acts 2.  It’s nothing new, and the problem won’t disappear before Jesus comes again.  Jesus himself told his followers they would have “trouble” in this world (John 16:33), and that they would be “hated” because of him (Mark 13:13).  But it’s still disconcerting to be misunderstood and hated.

That we are actually, presently, hated was not all that clear to me (aside from the obvious evidence of hatred from extremist Muslims) until I ventured, almost accidentally, into CNN’s “Belief Blog.”  For example, yesterday’s post is written by a New Testament scholar and responds to another post asserting that the Bible provides no clear message on the subject of homosexuality.  The NT scholar, Robert A. J. Gagnon of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, wrote a very good article and briefly pointed out some flaws with the previous writer’s arguments.  (http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/03/03/my-take-the-bible-really-does-condemn-homosexuality/)

The disturbing, and revealing, element in all this comes in the “SoundOff” section following the blog post.  At last glance, there were over 3500 comments in just over 2 days.  Granted, a lot of these are replies to other comments.  What is striking, though, is the vitriolic nature of many of these comments.  These people hate Christians, and they don’t mind saying so.  They see anyone with a Biblical point of view as intellectually and morally stunted, and they freely splash their notes with nearly-personal attacks that sound a lot like something the Phelpsigans would write.  It’s more than a little disturbing.

Still, “freedom of speech” is the thing that allows us to preach and teach the Bible in this country just as freely as they argue against it. 

 Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.  Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven.  For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.” (Luke 6:22-23, New International Version).

Lord, please help me to teach the truth of your Word, in the face of hatred, without becoming hateful of those who don’t understand.


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2 Responses to Free Speech and Hate

  1. cthoward says:

    Amen.

    I think the trick, and the Christian’s responsibility, is to convince those we disagree with that we still love them. That is difficult since the hate and protests from (so-called?) Christians get most of the publicity.

    But, I also think you are right on target with your post. It does no good for us to fight back against those who hate us. We must teach the truth, but we must teach it in and out of love.

  2. Bobby says:

    Yes! I’m still trying to learn how to disagree without being disagreeable.

    I guess that, while the other (so-called) Christians are turning people away with hateful words, our best “weapon” will be deeds that open ears to our words.

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