We live in a changing world. Some change is good and even necessary. Civil and criminal laws are passed to affect change. Sadly, some laws must be passed to protect us from ourselves. Others are to protect us from persons or groups differing to us. Each of us should applaud and submit to any and every good ordinance, realizing that the powers who wrote them are ordained of God. (Roman 13:1). Resisting the laws that are in harmony with God’s law is resisting God. (Verse 2). True rulers are not a terror of good works, but are God’s ministers to us for good. (Verses 3, 4). “Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.” (Verse 5). The implication to all of this is that authorities are enacting laws that are in harmony with God’s will. Otherwise, we should do as the apostles; tell them, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29).
The concern of this brief treatise is that some rules may be legislated without proper consideration. The current mindset of some is to lump many things under the heading of “hate speech.” The general idea of hate speech today seems to be any speech that is hateful, encouraging violence, and even inciting violence against persons and/or groups, including, but not limited to, race, ethnic background, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation.
If we are not careful, we will scare and/or intimidate people into believing that no one should say a word about the words and/or actions of others. It seems that some in our society believe that they should be able to make negative comments about anyone who makes a negative statement, and that their speech should not be called hate speech, and they should not be punished. Is it hate speech to accuse someone who has just stated a belief of using hate speech, calling them bigots, and inciting someone to fine and/or imprison them for using hate speech?
What are we to do? Those who profess to be Christians are to “preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (2 Timothy 4:2). The Holy Spirit moved Peter (2 Peter 1:20, 21) to write, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God.” (1 Peter 4:11). Following these God breathed words will find every believer “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15), and with a heart filled with love, “speak every man truth with his neighbor.” (Ephesians 4:25). One who does not do so hates the one in sin. Cf. Proverbs 13:25. God even tells us when we sin and when we do right. (The whole Bible). He also chastens those whom He loves. (Hebrews 12:6). “Blessed is the man whom the Lord chasteneth, O Lord, and teachest him out of thy law.” (Psalm 94:12). We should be thankful for correction, not offended.
Believing God’s word, loving His word, and loving the people He created, we must teach those who are wrong, that they “have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and that “the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23). Aware and confident of our duties, loving every person on earth, and “knowing…the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Corinthians 5:11), to save them from “everlasting punishment” (Matthew 25:46) “in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8).
God hates “every false way” (Psalm 119:104, 128), “vain thoughts” (Psalm 119:113), “evil” (Amos 6:15), “a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren” (Proverbs 6:16-19), and so much more. However, God loves all (John 3:16), and “the Lord is…longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9), which is what each Christian seeks to do with speech and life. God wants His people to love everyone, even our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48), and those who persecute us for righteousness sake, revile us, and falsely speak evil of us. (Matthew 5:10-12). In the face of such, God wants us to “warn the unruly” (1 Thessalonians 5:14), as did Paul. (Acts 20:31).
We love people whose houses are threatened by fire, floods, tornadoes, and such like. We show that love by warning them, pleading with them to get out of harm’s way. We love those in shark, crocodile and/or alligator infested water to flee, seeking to save them. Officials put up road blocks to save people from rock slides, mud slides, roads washed out, bridges out, and much more, because they care about them. News stations, especially weather departments, issue severe weather warnings to save people. Other reporters warn us of faulty and dangerous products which may cause hurt, sickness, and even death. They are concerned. These are physical things, but we desire and expect them. The warnings God’s people give to those in sin to STOP! TURN AROUND! are of greater importance, because they have eternal consequences. They are acts of love to help those apart from God, people, like one of the boys of Matthew 21:28-32, to turn around and do the Father’s will.
We show our love to people when we tell them how God wants all to live, and how not to live. It is not hate speech to tell “him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” (Ephesians 4:28). The government daily calls people various criminal names, punishing them. It is not hate speech to tell “fornicators,…idolaters,…adulterers,…effeminate,…abusers of themselves with mankind,…thieves covetous,…drunkards,…revilers,…extortioners” that they shall not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11), unless they repent. These Corinthians were saved, because they had been “washed…sanctified…justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and the Spirit of our God.” (Verse 11; Cf. Acts 18:8). In other words, they had repented of these things, put off the old man, and put on the new man. (Ephesians 4:17-32, esp. verses 22-24).
We are to “be fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.” (Romans 12:11). It is imperative that we zealously teach everyone what God says about salvation, declaring “all the counsel of God.” (Acts 20:27). This includes all things that are Biblically wrong, yet acceptable to and approved by others. Cf. Ezekiel 3:18-22. We must teach the truth, when the authorities like it, and when they do not, when it is convenient and when it is not. (2 Timothy 4:2; Acts 5:29). We cannot fail to set forth God’s will, even if people gnash upon us with their teeth, try to over talk us, stop their ears, or even kill us. (Acts 7:54-60). Punishing us or putting us in jail does not alter our message and/or the proclamation of it. (Acts 16:19-34). If imprisoned, make yourself at home, and sing and pray and teach.
A PLEA! Love everyone, as per 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, even enemies and/or authorities. (Matthew 5:43-48). Teach every creature in every nation. (Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:19). “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21). DO NOT teach, encourage or practice hatred in the proclamation of God’s word. “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” (Romans 12:18). Remember, “avenge not yourselves, but rather give place to wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, thus saith the Lord.” (Verse 19). Aid all, even enemies, when you can. (Romans 12:20; Galatians 6:9, 10). Read Colossians 3:1-5, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God…Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” Simply put, verse 5, tells us to stop illicit sexual or deviate activity, moral uncleanness or sensual and dirty mindness, evil or unholy passions, unholy desires or greed, and no longer lusting after what another person has. Christians are not to put people to death, but kill (stop) our evil desires and actions, and help others do the same.
Hopefully, the powers that be, will think rationally, and allow us the freedom to obey and teach the word of God in its purity and simplicity (1 Peter 4:11; Revelation 22:18, 19), without taking away our tax exemption, without fining and/or imprisoning us. However, if they choose to do one or more, even adding persecution, let genuine New Testament Christians “stand fast in the faith” (1 Corinthians 16:13), “in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free.” (Galatians 5:1). We do no more than the government, which speaks negatively of pedophiles, child and spouse abusers, and so many more, and we do not punish anyone physically. Sometimes we must practice church discipline. (1 Corinthians 5; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15; Romans 16:17). If the government is not using hate speech in doing so, how can God’s people be accused of hate speech when we but warn people against sin?
Everywhere this author has preached in gospel meetings, revivals, campaigns, in local pulpits, for over fifty years, to the best of his memory, he has taught people to obey the law of the land, unless it contradicted the law of God. This included paying taxes, obeying speed limits, submitting to road markers, even seat belt laws, for which he has been ticketed and had to repent. This scribe has never preached violence by anyone toward anyone. He certainly has not incited people to hurt others. He has taught people to love, teach, and pray for any and all who need it, leaving it there!