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Wednesday, January 21, 2015 Freedom (of speech) is not Free!

(Posted January 21, 2015)

“For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13, NASB)

“Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bond-slaves of God. (I Peter 2:16, NASB)

You have certainly heard the expression “Freedom is Not Free” ...

...used in context of sacrificial service by our nation’s military, particularly when referring to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice (their very lives) for each of us. Yes, freedom carries certain responsibilities with it, in war and in peace. The verses above certainly highlight that the responsibility of freedom in Christ is to be a servant, a bondslave, for others and for God.

The responsibility of freedom in Christ is to be a servant, a bondslave, for others and for God. In Resilient Nations, one of the sub elements of Spiritual Infrastructure is “Unity, Diversity, and Civility” which stands in contrast to “racial divisiveness, lack of appreciation and respect for different backgrounds, and a coarseness in discourse and manners which lacks consideration of fellow citizens, fomenting even greater polarization and divisiveness” (Resilient Nations, 45). To enter one more stream of thought, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.”

Connecting these three streams from the Bible, Resilient Nations, and the U.S. Constitution, I must now ask “Do Christians have Freedom of Speech?” If so, are there any limits to this speech? Is there a “higher calling” for which Christians relinquish some of their rights as Americans? What does this look like on the highways and byways of American life? How do Christians “lead by example” in this critical area?

This question is more than theoretical in a day which emphasizes rights over responsibilities. How does this apply to the streets of Ferguson, Missouri? Does the “right” to free speech trump the “responsibility” to speak to others respectfully (with civility)? What about the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in France which suffered a tragic massacre by radical Islamic terrorists? Does their right to say or print anything totally override a responsibility to avoid inflaming certain individuals or collective segments of the populace? There are many other examples you can think of, many illustrations in the daily news.

Let your speech always be with grace as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person (Galatians 4:6, NASB.)You get the point: clearly there is a tension, a balance, between rights and responsibilities. While there are laws which try to bound free speech (such as libel, slander, hate speech (although some use this “red herring” to impose their worldview), and classified information), are Christians even more constrained? While these laws establish a civil norm (which is becoming less civil), what is the real norm for Christians?

“Do Christians have Freedom of Speech?” The answer is YES. Christians do have the “right” to exercise their freedom of speech, BUT Christians also have the “responsibility” to use this freedom of speech to serve God and others. Analogous to finding the right balance between grace and truth in interpersonal discussions, this balance regarding “free speech” requires great WISDOM. Such wisdom not only leads to harmony in personal interactions, but also in the affairs of the nation. From the Book of Galatians, “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person” (Galatians 4:6, NASB.)

May this be the standard we model for our fellow citizens -- America desperately needs it!

Put on your thinking cap.
Tell us what you think about this latest Resilience Blog!

Respectfully in Christ, 

Bob Dees
LU Institute for Military Resilience


PS: The next Institute for Military Resilience (IMR) Webinar entitled

"Advocating For Your Military Veteran:
What You Should Know and How to Get Services"

will be presented by Dr. Linda Mintle from the Liberty University College of Medicine at 8 PM on Thursday, February 12, 2015. Dr. Linda Mintle is a widely published author, popular speaker, experienced military counselor and social worker, and academic chair at Liberty University. She is also a military child, an advocate for her WWII father, and one with a true heart for our nation's military and their families, one who understands "the system."

See you there for a powerful time of equipping to take care of the important veteran in your life!
Visit www.liberty.edu/IMRWebinars for more information or register here.


Posted at 11:49 AM | Comments (0)
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