Freedom is such a precious privilege and craved for by many. However, freedom can be so easily abused. There is something perverse in the psyche of Humanity which often uses Freedom’s arena to justify vindictive actions.
We cry out for Freedom of speech yet have we asked what type of speech? Do we have the right to tell deliberate lies aimed at vilifying, harming or destroying someone? Do we have then the Freedom to take unilateral action in revenge even to the extent of murder? Does Freedom have boundaries and if so who decides what they are?
The Christian Faith has its teachings on Freedom and it covers numerous facets of life. On the matter of speech it places some boundaries. Christians are instructed to speak the truth and to do it in a special manner. That is in an attitude of love. That isn’t a sentimental sugary type of language. Rather, love is words spoken softly or strongly with a desire that the recipient of the words be helped rather than crushed.
Speech ultimately will flow from lips whose minds are dominated by one of two forces. Will it be Truth or will it be Lies? This then creates a problem for those who believe there is no such thing as absolute Truth. For them there can be no such thing as a lie. What wins out in a contest between people or ideologies? More than likely it will be some type of muscle power. Are we not witnessing this at the moment from supporters of terror? We may call them ignorant, cruel, depraved, and other terms but they justify the lie of their words with actions of brutal force. Their reaction to what they don’t like, or agree with, whether expressed by satire or statement, is to destroy. That applies to the source as well as the content.
Freedom of speech and expression is important within any society. This is extremely true to those who seek justice over injustices, revealing corruption and criminal activities, and exposing error as well as terror. We should esteem those who have risked their lives, reputation and careers to reveal the deeds of men done in the darkness of deceit or depravity. Such Freedom must be safeguarded. At the same time it must be held within the bounds of Truth.
What can we expect from a debate on Freedom of speech and expression? A clash between the Truth of the matter and Lies masquerading behind clichés and self–righteousness. It is ultimately a contest between light and darkness, between exposing and deceiving, between community welfare and vested interests. Sometimes it appears that the darkness has won the field of battle. It is an illusionary victory. Truth has resurrection qualities and will not remain captive to its consigned grave. Time and again this is demonstrated within any arena of human endeavour. The unfortunate aspect of a Lie’s temporary victory is much sorrow, pain and ultimate shame to the Lie’s promoters.
In Matthew 12:33-37 is a statement by Jesus on an aspect most don’t take into account. Each of us must give an account to Him on how we have used our words. Not so much what was said, though that is under review, but the condition of the heart that was verbalised.
Freedom of speech and expression as well as people’s reaction to it actually uncovers the inner morality and spirituality of a person. May Proverbs 8:6–7 be our heartbeat: ‘ will speak noble things, and from my lips will come what is right; for my mouth will utter truth; wickedness is an abomination to my lips’.
©Ray Hawkins Jan 2015