Life and Death in the Power of the Tongue: What the Bible Says about Freedom of Speech
by Betty Miller
The very concept of freedom finds its roots in the Bible in one of the most famous quotes of Jesus: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). According to this scripture, we can only be free by knowing the truth. In order to arrive at the true definition of “freedom of speech,” we need to define the terms “freedom” and “truth.” The basic definition of “freedom” according to Webster’s dictionary is as follows: (1) The quality or state of being free: as the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action.  Freedom involves a choice.
Man – A Free Moral Agent
The Bible tells us that in the beginning God created man as a free moral agent. When God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the Garden of Eden, He, in His wisdom and love, gave them all they needed for a happy and fulfilled life. He also gave them a free will; however, some instructions (commands) came along with it. God told them they could eat the fruit of all the trees in that garden except one. He warned them that if they ate of that tree they would die. They were allowed the freedom to choose to obey God and live forever with Him or rebel against His commands and die. All men are given the free will to choose to do good or evil. We know the fate of Adam and Eve; because they listened to the devil and disobeyed God’s instructions, they fell from their intended place of blessing and sin and death began operating in their lives. Therefore, we can see that freedom has responsibilities and consequences.
Perversions of True Freedom
The founding fathers of the United States of America established this nation by setting forth many Biblical principles in its Constitution and Bill of Rights. One of those tenets is “freedom of speech.” In the Bill of Rights, the first amendment essentially gives us the freedom of speech, religion, press, and petition and assembly. However, by declaring these freedoms, the founding fathers never meant to endorse the rights of those who would do wicked deeds, such as allowing pornographers to peddle their perversion and evil freely; nor did they intend these freedoms to allow those with a spirit of anarchy the right to burn our national flag, nor the rights of parents to kill innocent babies by abortion. The laws of society should be changed to impose penalties on evil perversions of true freedom.
Qualifications of Supreme Court Judges
True freedom must have boundaries set by standards that define what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. Those standards being established, penalties must be imposed upon those who violate them. National freedom is defined by government. When a government establishes its standards according to the Bible’s standards, the corporate national life will produce blessing for all. However, if a government allows all manner of evil to be spoken and done in the name of freedom, society will deteriorate and become evil. This is why the appointment of moral and highly qualified judges to the Supreme Court is so crucial, because they are responsible for interpreting the Constitution correctly. Their moral principles will affect the ruling on the many cases that come before them. Certainly a nominee should possess the necessary qualifications for the appointment, but character and philosophy are important factors in the selection of all judges, and especially at the Supreme Court level as life and death decisions will come before them. The traits of honesty, wisdom, fairness, compassion, firmness, and good judgment are vital in those holding this office. As Christians, we should pray that the Lord would grant us good judges at all judicial levels. The Bible admonishes those in authority to receive instruction from the Lord and to serve Him with fear and respect.
Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Psalm 2:10-11
Penalties Should Be Imposed for Criminal Acts
Do we have freedom to commit criminal acts? Yes, but if we do, then we also should face the penalties imposed for committing those evil deeds. We are free to choose to do evil, but not free from the consequences of our choices. The Bible outlines many principles for the good of society as a whole; keeping them, brings blessing and order to society. The practice of evil brings destruction. If any man’s freedom imposes harm on another, then it is not the freedom that our founding fathers intended to extend to the people. If any man’s use of his freedom of speech perverts the minds of our children, then we have the right to rise up and say that is not the kind of speech that we will tolerate.
Pornography – A Perversion of Free Speech
Pornography should never be protected under the first amendment as freedom of speech because it is an evil that is doing great harm to our society. Among the many evil fruits of this sin are broken marriages, the spread of sexual diseases and the extreme sexual perversions that incite sexual predators to rape and kill women and children. The devil is furnishing the pornographers with an escape for their evil deeds by using the first amendment as their legal way to get by with what they are doing. This is a perversion of freedom of speech. Certain religious deeds fall under this same thing. Freedom of religion gives us the right to worship as we are led by God, but if any religious deeds harm or destroy people, it should not be protected under the Constitution. Acts of terrorism, in the name of God, fall in this same category. Biblical principles and guidelines influenced the forming of our Constitution; those same guidelines should interpret our Constitution at the judicial level.
Should Christian Morals Influence Public Life?
Many Americans have believed the lie that we should not allow those who practice Christian religious morals to impose those good principles on the public. What is wrong with influencing the public with good? True Biblical standards will always create an environment for the good of all, while wicked standards will allow evil to overcome good. If Christian and Biblical moral practices are not incorporated into our national life, evil men will impose upon us their wicked interpretation of “freedom” i.e., the right to do evil in the name of freedom.
Biblical Definition of Freedom
If our definition of freedom is not based on the Biblical definition, then it is not true freedom. Jesus said that the truth would set us free. Since Jesus Himself is The Truth, His words to us will free us. Bondage is the alternative to freedom. The devil brings men into bondage by tempting them to sin, being careful not to tell them that the wages of sin is death. Bondage from sin comes in many forms–addictions, stress, fear, unforgiveness, torment, etc. The only way to escape from bondage is to come to Jesus and repent of our sins and find His love and forgiveness. He then will disciple us and teach us His Word and His ways so that we will be set free from every bondage that sin brings.
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. John 8:31-36
¹ “freedom.” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2005.
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