“Hate Speech” in the Bible
Many may be surprised to learn that the use of so-called “hate speech” to prevent the preaching of the Gospel is nothing new. The Christian Church faced this threat in the first century already. It was not known as “hate speech” in those times, of course; the terminology is recent.
Let us see what the Scriptures say. And let us take heart, also. For what the Church of God in modern western societies has now lost or is rapidly losing, the early Church, as well as the Church for most of its history, never possessed in the first place! Thus as western believers see the erosion of freedom of speech and freedom of religion, which they had become used to having for so long, let them take comfort from this, and be encouraged by the examples of their brethren in the faith in earlier times.
Let us begin by going to the account of the destruction of Sodom for an example of the evil, demonic spirit behind “hate speech” legislation.
Genesis 19:4-9: “But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: and they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them. And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, and said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly…. And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door.”
In particular, western countries are making use of the so-called “gay rights movement” to push their agenda for eliminating free speech from the earth; so it is most instructive to read the language of the sodomites as they surrounded Lot’s house and tried to force him to give up his two guests so that they could gang-rape them. When Lot tried to reprove them, calling their demand wicked (Gen. 19:7), note their reply:
“This one fellow [Lot] came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them” (Gen. 19:9).
What were they in effect saying? That Lot was guilty of “hate speech”! Lot was a just man, a righteous man, vexed with the filthy behaviour of the men of Sodom (2 Pet. 2:6-8); and when he reproved them for their wickedness, they cried out, in essence, “He’s judging us!” The very cry of the sodomites today, and of all the other groups being supported by those in authority wanting to destroy free speech and the preaching of the Gospel! We hear it all the time: “Who are these Christians to judge us as sinners? They’re haters! They’re bigots! They’re homophobes! They mustn’t be allowed to say such things! It’s hate speech! It’s offensive, it’s hurtful, my human dignity has been impaired!”
These same cry-babies judge Christians as sinners and criminals. They are what they accuse Christians of being. They hate Christians, are bigoted towards them, and are “Christophobes” (having a fear of Christians). Furthermore, their language is offensive, often extremely vulgar, threatening, obscene – and yet they declare Christians to be the haters and bigots? In a better day in the West, the old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me,” applied. It was the government’s duty to punish those who used sticks and stones, not those who used words. But today? “Hate speech” is the preferred method of the devil to crack down on freedom of religion.
Matthew 15:12-14: “Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.”
Today, the Lord Jesus would be accused, and certainly found guilty, of “hate speech”! He offended the religious leaders by what He said! But do we see Him grovelling at their feet and apologising? Not at all. In fact, we see Him – by the insane standards of today’s western societies – adding offence to offence, by calling them blind leaders of the blind, and moreover people who would fall (into hell)! Today the cry would go up: “How unloving! How intolerant! How offensive! How hateful!” But none of this was true of the Lord.
Christians are to answer in precisely the same way when the people of the world say, “But what you’ve said is offensive.” They are to answer: “Let them alone. Those not planted by the heavenly Father will be rooted up. They are the spiritually blind, and until the Lord gives them eyes to see they will remain so.”
Acts 4:1,2 says, “And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.”
The circumstances may differ from place to place and from age to age, but the animosity is the same. In those times, what upset and angered the religious leaders was, firstly, that the apostles dared to teach anyone; and, secondly, that they preached through Jesus the resurrection rom the dead. Today, at least so far, western governments do not forbid Christians from preaching about the resurrection, specifically; but they most certainly do forbid them from preaching about various other aspects of their faith, especially pertaining to condemning false religions or sinful practices. And in addition, in some places they are demanding that Christian preachers must first submit to some kind of State-sanctioned regulatory authority, and that they must first be “qualified”, “accredited”, or “licenced”, before being permitted to preach the Gospel! This is nothing but a severe restriction on freedom of speech, precisely so as to severely restrict freedom of religion!
But are Christians to submit to this kind of authoritarian government interference in what they believe or practice? Absolutely not! God does not give any men in positions of power the legitimate authority to say who may preach and who may not, or to say what may be preached and what may not. And since it is not of God, it is of man – and of the devil. And Christians are not to submit to such sinful commandments of men!
What did they do to the apostles? Let us read on:
Acts 4:3: “And they laid hands on then, and put them in hold unto the next day”.
They arrested them! They arrested them for preaching the Gospel without licence, and because of what they were saying! Christian ministers in the first century were arrested for preaching what other men, men with power, claimed they were not authorised to preach. And when freedom of speech is either removed from the statute books in western countries today, or restricted by the enactment of “hate speech” legislation, Christians again face being arrested for preaching. Indeed, it has happened many times already.
Note what the leaders said to the apostles:
Acts 4:7: “And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?”