31 Oct What The Bible Says About Freedom Of Speech
Many Christians believe, and rightly so, that their freedom of speech is under attack in America today. But is this something that is promoted in the Bible? Is freedom of speech a religious right or simply a right that was put in place by politicians long ago? If the Bible doesn’t promote freedom of speech, should Christians still work to protect that right? These are important questions to consider for Christians in America today.
What does the Bible say about freedom of speech? The Bible does not have much to say in direct opposition or support for the freedom of speech. We are called to speak the truth in love, to refrain from obscene speech, and to glorify God with everything we do and say. While the Bible supports the idea of freedom of speech, it also makes it clear that we may face consequences for our words.
So, how should freedom of speech affect the life of a Christian in America? Isn’t freedom of speech one of the things that makes our country so unique? Without freedom of speech, wouldn’t our religious freedoms be compromised? In this post, we will share a Biblical perspective on freedom of speech. We will look at what the Bible has to say on this topic and how our freedom of speech may be compromised.
Understanding What the Bible Says About Freedom of Speech
Freedom of speech is a core value of our country. In fact, it is one of the qualities that sets our country apart. However, as Christians, we must look to the Bible to form our perspective on important topics such as this. In doing so, we will be able to gain Biblical insight on how, and when, to defend our freedom of speech as Americans, and as Christians.
What is Freedom of Speech?
Before we begin to discuss a Biblical view of freedom of speech, we must first take a look at what freedom of speech really means. Merriam-Webster defines freedom of speech as “the legal right to express one’s opinions freely”.
The Bill of Rights, a document ratified in 1789, outlines ten amendments made to our nation’s Constitution. Our founding fathers believed that the Constitution in its original form did not offer adequate protection for human liberties.
The First Amendment to the Constitution reads as follows, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Essentially, the First Amendment protects our freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press. It also protects the rights of people to assemble and our right to petition the government when needed. These are all key components of what makes our country different from many other countries today.
Unfortunately, a 2017 poll covered by the Washington Times discovered that 66 percent of Americans believe that their freedom of speech is compromised due to the growing concern of remaining politically correct. Much has changed since 2017 and we can only assume that this number continues to rise.
Countless cases over the past several years have illustrated that, as Christians, we face an ever-increasing infringement upon our freedoms of religion and speech. However, we must not face these facts with fear. By studying what the Bible says about freedom of speech, we can develop a Biblical perspective by which to view the world around us.
Freedom of Speech in The Bible
As mentioned previously, the Bible does not directly say anything in support or in opposition to freedom of speech. However, we do find several lessons regarding our speech throughout the pages of Scripture. If we apply these lessons to our lives today, we can begin to develop a Biblical perspective on this important issue.
Christians Must Refrain From Obscene Speech
God has given each of us free will and the freedom to make decisions for ourselves. However, we must realize that we may face consequences as a result of our words or actions.
Colossians 3:8-9 says, “But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices.”
The Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:7 prohibit certain types of speech. “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”
As Christians, we are called to refrain from obscene speech or any form of malice, slander, anger, or wrath. Unfortunately, many Christians abuse their freedom of speech as an excuse to speak in anger or wrath. This type of speech is strictly prohibited in Scripture.
Our Speech Must Not Aim to Destroy But to Encourage
Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
As Christians, we are called to speak words of encouragement. We are not to destroy or corrupt others with our words. Our speech must speak light, life, and love into everyone around us.
Christians Are to Always Speak the Truth
In many places throughout the Bible, we are encouraged to speak the truth. We must also speak the truth, even when it is hard. However, in times when we must speak truths that may be hard to hear, we must be careful to do so in love.
Ephesians 4:15-16 says, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
Many times, the truth we must speak will not be a popular opinion. In fact, we may face persecution or judgment for speaking the truth in some situations. We must not let this dissuade us from speaking the truth in love as our call to do so in Scripture is clear.
We Must Glorify God With Our Speech
Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” As Christians, we must seek to glorify God with everything we think, say, and do. While we have the freedom to speak as we please, it is imperative that our speech glorifies and honors God.
These passages, along with many others, encourage Christians to speak the truth at all times, refrain from lying and obscene speech, and to build others up with their words. We are also called to speak up for those around us, to use our voices boldly in defense of others and of Scripture.
Our voices and our freedom of speech in America are tremendous tools that can be used to bring glory to God and tell others of His love. We must diligently use the gifts and freedoms that we have been given, knowing that they are not guaranteed to last forever.
Key Bible Verses About Freedom of Speech
Are you looking for a quick reference to verses that cover the topic of free speech? Here are some key Bible verses that address our freedom of speech:
- Exodus 20:7
- Exodus 20:16
- Leviticus 19:11
- Ephesians 4:15
- Ephesians 4:25
- Proverbs 31:8-9
- Matthew 12:36
- Proverbs 18:21
- Colossians 4:6
- Proverbs 15:1
- Colossians 3:8-9
- Titus 3:2
- Ephesians 4:29
- 1 Chronicles 16:23-31
- Esther 4:14
While the Bible does not have anything to say specifically pointed to the freedom of speech we experience as Americans, we can apply the important commands and lessons regarding our words. In doing so, we can develop a Biblical perspective on how to approach freedom of speech in America. As leaders in our communities, we must work to pass this perspective on to other Christians and the generations that are to follow.
When to Exercise Your Freedom of Speech
As Americans, we have the privilege of exercising our freedom of speech on a daily basis. It is important that we do not take this freedom for granted as there may come a time when it is compromised. So, when should you exercise your freedom of speech?
As Christians, we must take into consideration the lessons shared throughout Scripture. Consider these things:
- Do my words encourage and build others up?
- Am I speaking the truth?
- Could my words be taken as slanderous or obscene by others?
- Will my words edify the people around me?
- Does what am I about to say bring glory to God?
- Am I standing up for my religious convictions with what I am saying?
This last question is perhaps the one we need to discuss in more depth.
Freedom of Speech in The Age of Political Correctness
With the growing concern for political correctness in our country today, our religious beliefs may not always align with what is considered “correct”. How are we to address these issues? Unfortunately, this has already begun to pose a problem for Christians in various parts of our country.
As Christians, our allegiance is always first to Christ. Above all else, we must remain steadfast in our religious beliefs and convictions. We must never compromise what we believe is taught in God’s Word in an attempt to appear relevant. We have already begun to see negative consequences for individuals who stood up for their religious or moral convictions. While their rights are certainly protected under our Constitutional freedom of speech, they have faced consequences that have affected their lives and careers.
When faced with these circumstances, we must remain steadfast in our religious convictions while diligently speaking the truth in love. We are called to boldly speak the truth, knowing that doing so may result in ostracization or negative consequences in other areas of our lives.
What Freedom of Speech is Not
It is important to fully understand what is protected under our Constitutional freedom of speech, and what is not. This will allow us to both protect ourselves and identify when others are abusing their freedom of speech.
The First Amendment does not provide protection or promote speech including the following:
- Obscene Language
- Fraudulent Speech
- Speech Regarding Illegal Topics
- Speech Leading to Lawlessness
- Violations of Intellectual Property
- Threats of Any Kind
- Commercial Advertising
- Speech Inciting Violent Actions in Others
Of course, these are topics that should never be uttered from the mouth of a Christian. However, far too often, Americans abuse their freedom of speech, believing that it allows them to speak whatever they wish regarding any situation. By educating ourselves on what institutes freedom of speech, we are able to promote and protect our rights as the founding fathers meant for them to be.
The Role of Government in Freedom of Speech
Freedom of speech, after all, was put into place by our nation’s government. So, what is the role of government today in protecting and promoting freedom of speech? All levels of government are put into place to promote the fair and equal treatment of all, to defend against evil, and promote what is good.
The government, specifically on a national level, should continue to promote the freedom of speech of all Americans, regardless of religious background. It is important that we elect officials who are dedicated to promoting a country that provides equality, liberty, and justice in every area, including that of speech.
Interested in learning more about the role of the government in the life of a Christian? You can read more about what the Bible actually says about government here.
So, how are we to view the freedom of speech in America as Christians? We must understand that we are given freedom of speech through our government, both through our government but more importantly, through God. However, we must be careful to follow the guidance provided throughout the Bible on this topic.
We are instructed to always speak the truth in love. Our words are to be words of encouragement, speaking life into the people around us. We are not to use profane or obscene language or words that aim to destroy. While we are granted free will by our Creator, we must acknowledge that our words may have consequences.
As our country continues to stray further away from our strong Christian foundation, the concern for political correctness is increasing rapidly. In many ways, this poses a threat to the freedom of speech of Christians in America. With beliefs and convictions that may be in opposition to what is considered politically correct, we must remain steadfast in our religious convictions.
While we may face consequences for doing so, it will ultimately bring glory and honor to God. As in every area of life, we must remember that our ultimate authority is Christ. It is our duty to honor Him in everything we think, say, and do.
We must work to encourage other Christians in the proper implementation and use of their Constitutional freedom of speech. In doing so, we can work to ensure that maintain this freedom for generations to come.
Are you interested in learning more about developing a Biblical view of government and politics? Be sure to check out our articles on this topic found on our website.
What does freedom of religion mean? Another aspect of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution is the freedom of religion. Freedom of religion includes the right of American citizens to choose and change their religion or religious beliefs at any time. It also protects the right of Americans to put their religious beliefs into action. This includes wearing religious clothing, talking about religious beliefs, and the freedom to worship as you see fit.
As Americans, it is important that we protect our religious freedoms by defending our First Amendment freedom of religion. As long as our nation promotes and protects our Constitutional freedom of religion, we are able to worship publicly, pray in public places, and express our religious beliefs in everyday life.
What is freedom of the press? Another aspect of the First Amendment found in The Bill of Rights is freedom of the press, sometimes referred to today as freedom of the media. Freedom of the press protects the rights of communication and personal expression through various forms of media including electronic media, printed media, and published media. Through freedom of the press, we are able to communicate our beliefs, news, and opinions openly without censorship by the government.
This is yet another privilege that we experience in America that we must fight to protect. With ever-growing sources of media and information, it is becoming much easier to promote and censor materials that we access each day. We must work to protect our freedom of the press to ensure that we are able to access reliable media outlets that share a variety of perspectives on important topics.