Is freedom of speech a Christian value?


Brain things / Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

So I’ve been thinking about the tragic Charlie Hebdo shooting and wondering.

I’ve lived within western democracy for so long that it’s hard to think in any other terms, but is freedom of speech a Christian value?

That is, was it important to Christ, and should it be to His followers?

You can hardly claim it for yourself but refuse it to others. Is it valuable to Him that we each may speak freely what we feel and believe, and grant to others the same privilege?

Why? Why not?

5 Replies to “Is freedom of speech a Christian value?”

  1. It is not!

    In the great commission we are commanded to spread the Gospel. We are not free to do as we would.

    In the Book of James chapter three we are told that the tongue is full of deadly poison and needs to be controlled by the Spirit of God.

    I know this is a little different than Charlie Hebdo, but as a Christian I don’t believe I have freedom of speech. My words are to be controlled and commanded by God and not how I would choose.

  2. Good questions.

    From what are the words free? Judgment? Implications?. The most tragic thing is if no one is accountable for what they say, words no longer have meaning. Words are weighty, God creates and destroys by His, and even our own tongues have death and life in them (Proverbs 18:21).

    Speech identifies the speaker and maybe simplifies our response. (Consider use of the word ‘conversation’ Strong’s NT #391). Generally free speech addresses the public forum, which is all about being heard rather than hearing. I prefer a conversation with someone over listening to them bubble off their soapbox.

    Above all I rejoice that “the Word of God is not bound” and pray that it will “have free course” (2 Timothy 2:9; 2 Thess.3:1).

  3. The ability to speak to another human being is given by the Creator. This ability can be used in the US, or in North Korea, or in Greenland, etc. Governments do not grant or revoke the ability to speak. “Freedom of speech” is merely the US governments promise that they won’t interfere or punish you for using that created ability.

    It seems to me that God is far more concerned with what we say and how we use our speech. Do we speak life or death? Do we build up or tear down?

    Further, I think God expects us to be willing to speak life to people, even in the face of a government who may to punish us for it. I am not really sure how relevant civic freedom of speech is, to the kingdom of God. It may impact the tactics, but it shouldn’t change the strategy.

  4. I’ve been thinking of this too – especially after hearing a sermon about our words. I guess I’ve always known this but this verse really hit me, especially when the speaker applied it to the words we write (blogging, social media) as well as speak.

    Mt 12:36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

    We are free to say whatever we want, God gives us that choice – but we will one day be judged by those words. That should make me pause before speaking/writing.

    There is so much more that the Word says about our words such as “speak the truth in love.” As Christians, our words must be different because our heart is different. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” Scary to think that my words show what is in my heart.

    Looking forward to see what others have to say.
    Gina

  5. I’m not going anywhere in particular with this question, and don’t have an answer, and can actually imagine myself presenting a case for both “yes” and “no,” although I’d lean toward “no” as well. Thanks to those of you who expressed opinions.

    I think there’s a basic God-given ability to express thought and feeling which is healthy and necessary and worth encouraging. Bad things happen to a family/ a church/ a society when the average person shuts up about what they believe and care about.

    But I don’t take it to mean “I’m answerable to no one.” Words can hurt and break and destroy, and sometimes my “freedom” in bashing what is sacred to another person has disastrous results. As in the news story I referenced.

    The morning after posting the question, I came to Psalm 12 in my Bible reading.
    “The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things: who have said, With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is lord over us? For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the Lord: I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him. The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.”

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