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27 October, 2008 By Rev. Ted Pike

Throughout our nation’s history, Americans have generally accepted their right to freedom of speech. Even in the turbulent sixties and seventies, liberals championed unrestrained freedom of expression.

Yet, after about 1980, our right to free speech was increasingly questioned. Today, the very liberals who once exalted free speech want to restrict speech about certain taboo topics, such as the numbers and methods of the Holocaust, behavior of Jews and Israel, or homosexuality.

Should there be limits on freedom of speech? Do the ethical foundations of America, the Bible and the Constitution allow us to say virtually anything we want?

To begin to answer these and other questions about this now controversial subject, we must first define “free speech.”

What is Free Speech?

Our right to free speech comes from the fact that we are free will beings made in the image of God, who also has free will. Our freedom to make moral choices is imparted to every person at conception and is part of the eternal soul or spirit of man. Although the existence of free moral choice is a problem for most philosophers, the same God who has existed un-created from past eternity, who created the universe from nothing, is very capable of empowering it. He has free moral choice Himself and has condescended to impart it to every human being. Our free will most perfectly describes what it means to be made in God’s image.

The first instinct of our free will is to speak our desires and opinions. Speech naturally proceeds, uninterrupted, from the innermost thoughts of our minds and souls. From birth, we begin to vocalize our discomforts and desires. From that point on, our Creator entitles us to free speech forever. We are eternal beings and will make use of our free speech wherever we are, in heaven or in hell.

Jesus related that even in hell, a formerly rich, heartless and selfish Jew enjoyed freedom to speak. He was there because of his rejection of the mercies of God and because he had been unmerciful to others. Yet now, concerned for his brethrens’ earthly welfare, he called across the abyss of eternity to Father Abraham and vocalized his desire that they be warned not to come into the same torment. Far from being forever silenced in hell, the rich man revealed active concern and passionate vocal expression. But it was too late. Abandoned by his Creator, he had lost all opportunity to be redeemed by trust in Jesus.

The authority of natural law also argues for free speech. If animals can bark, sing, chirp at their pleasure and without restraint, shouldn’t human beings, made in God’s image, have at least as much right to speak?

Our free speech, like our free will, is our most precious birthright from our Creator. Both free will and speech must never be abused or squandered.

Does the Bible Support Freedom of Speech?

Yet some will object: “Didn’t God cut off freedom of speech in the Old Testament, demanding death to blasphemers, advocates of idolatry or, like the rebels of Korah, those who incited others to rebel against Moses’ authority?”

Actually, such persons had complete freedom of speech until the very instant God authorized their deaths. God has authority to end verbal discord to Himself and His law and will whenever He pleases. He would not be God if He didn’t have that privilege.

The eternal law of a holy God is that any discord to Him must be instantly annihilated. Why doesn’t God then incinerate all sinners, including demons? Because such forbearance is part of His loving plan to give mankind time to repent and become His friends.

Thus, God suspends His right to destroy the wicked for any length of time He wishes. Since the creation of mankind, He has given us freedom of speech.

Others may object, “If God forbids and can punish rebellious speech any time He wants, how is that different from speech laws which also tell us what we cannot say on penalty, even of imprisonment? God’s speech laws,” this point of view contends, "thus amount to the same thing as the Anti-Defamation League’s anti-hate laws today. God’s laws may originate in His benevolence, while speech laws come from evil and twisted minds. Yet, both, because they employ coercion and threat, actually deny real free choices to us!"

There may seem a similarity between these two legal systems. Actually, there is tremendous difference. God’s laws are supremely good; ADL’s are supremely evil. God is not only good but sovereign, having the right to make laws and ultimately pronounce what is good and evil. Just earthly laws only reflect God's laws. ADL's hate laws do not. Instead, they are sinister attempts to end free speech, entrap Christians, and establish their own anti-Christ dominion.

Secondly, while God forbids, He forbears judgment out of love. God has actually done much more than just forbear judging us. Infinite God came down and became finite Man, dying on a cross to bear our just punishment. When we trust in Christ, our Sinbearer, He becomes our bridge of justification and reconciliation to a holy God.

Hate laws don’t forbear. They say that all proscribed speech must stop now! Penalty is certain: harsh fines or imprisonment. This makes them tyrannical.
Also, unlike God, they will not be reasoned with. In hate law countries like Canada, truth and reason are not admitted as evidence by hate law tribunals. Again, tyranny.

When Speech Should Not Be Free

Just as there are exceptions to unrestrained free speech in the Bible, so in America, we don’t allow people to shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater or incite riot or libel and slander. Yet, in both systems, the overwhelming emphasis has been one of permission to speak. Such enlightened systems, whether theocratic or democratic, are a product of divine example and empowerment.

We should not tolerate speech that threatens public safety and morality and corrupts youth. Scripture provides such precedent, especially in the Old Testament. Young people should be protected by law from speech and expression that is pornographic, solicits to pedophilia, is sexually traumatizing to young people, or is sadistically violent. We prohibit drugs that destroy youthful minds -- why not speech that has been repeatedly proven to do the same?

But we should not prohibit speech, especially to young people, that is merely socially disapproved. This includes hearing or reading online what ADL decries as "anti-Semitic conspiracy theories." ADL counsels libraries and schools to block such "hate speech" from computers used by young people. In reality, such politically incorrect ideas are often true. They bear no resemblance to speech that actually traumatizes, degrades and corrupts youth.

Despite potential abuses, free speech is actually a much more redeeming influence than a threat. Its greatest blessing is that, through allowance of new and truthful ideas, it morally strengthens and orients those, such as the young, who are confused or misled. Society needs much, much more truth-telling. The problem today is not too much unbridled, unauthorized speech. Instead, freedom is threatened by efforts, primarily led by the Anti-Defamation League, to restrict the healing cleansing work of free speech through their hate, thought and speech crimes laws.

In Canada last year, a prominent hate law bureaucrat, contrasting Canada's views on free speech with America's, said Canada tolerates free speech but is not in love with it.

May Americans ever be in love with God and, as a result, with free speech!

Abundance of free speech, along with truth and righteousness, means abundance of the ability to do good.

current Ted Pike photo
Ted, today - photo: John Pike, October 2019
Mail: P.O. Box 828, Clackamas, OR 97015
Email: Rev. Ted Pike

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