In my previous post, I noted how the liberty to speak freely against the sin of homosexuality is systematically eroding in the United States. But homosexuality is not the only issue for which the ability of Christians to speak their conscience is threatened. Another such issue is feminism. People who make statements supporting a traditional (biblical) view of the role of women as homemakers can expect to be punished for it. In fact, the modern homosexual movement was the natural product of the feminist movement, which has tried to erase distinctions between men and women and to destroy traditional/biblical principles of morality. This is a problem because the New Testament explicitly seeks to define different roles for men and women, both in the church (1 Cor 14:33b-35; 1 Tim 2:8-15) and in the home (Eph 5:22-33). The Old Testament is just as strong, for example giving as the sign of membership in the covenant community a mark that only males could bear (circumcision), only counting males in censuses, and only anointing males as priests and kings. The idea of redefining marriage started with the feminist movement, which sought to liberate women from the constraints of marriage, or at least from the constraints of a traditional marriage. The feminist movement has so much power in the culture that it has even rewritten the English language, banning the use of “man” as a generic reference to “humanity” (in contradiction of Gen 5:2), replacing “men working” signs on the highway with “workers ahead,” and so forth.
It almost goes without saying that the Bible speaks out in the strongest terms against false religions and false teachers. Yet today there is a huge push in the media, the government, and public education to treat all religions equally. Invariably, however, the religions that are highlighted in government educational campaigns are false religions such as Islam and Buddhism, rather than conservative Christianity. Also, while it used to be common for placards and signs with Bible verses on them to be posted in public buildings and public parks, and for Bible stories to be taught in public schools, today these are being removed; the first amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom has been reinterpreted in a way that makes secularism the state religion and actually prevents the free exercise of religion by Christians. In some countries, such as Canada, Christians who make strong statements against Islam or other religions can be punished for hate speech, although I have never heard of people who speak against biblical Christianity being punished in these countries.
Racism is a more complex issue, since the Bible does not condone racism (when properly defined). It is also true that many American Christians of an earlier generation were racially insensitive, or just plain racist. But lobbyists for homosexuality, feminism, and ecumenism have linked themselves with the civil rights agenda. As a result, racial issues are now less about not prejudging or hating individuals on the basis of their skin color than they are about promoting groups that are seen as historically disenfranchised (blacks, women, homosexuals, and non-Christians). The achievements of white male evangelical Christians—arguably the greatest historical positive influence in the United States—are now downplayed, and white men are the least desired group of people for jobs and promotions. Also, it is now possible for any criticism of a black person by a white person, or any arrest of a black person by a white police officer, to be viewed as a racist act, with potentially severe legal repercussions. Conversely, the African American community places a great deal of emphasis on the race issue, which blames other people for their problems, while they seem far less passionate about combating the endemic violence, immorality, drugs, anger, pride, stealing, disrespect, foul language, wicked music, and other sins that are truly wreaking havoc among them. The Bible makes statements about Jews (Acts 7:51-53; 1 Thess 2:14-15), Cretans (Titus 1:12-13), Canaanites (Gen 9:25-27), and women (1 Cor 14:33b-35; 1 Tim 2:11-15) that would be considered “prejudiced” by today’s standards, but that just shows that there is a problem with today’s standards—people do not want to be criticized or to be told that what they are doing is wrong. If someone could go to jail or be fired in America for saying about a modern racial or ethnic group what Paul said about Cretans in Titus 1:12-13, then there is a problem with our way of thinking about racial issues.
What about people who really do make racist statements? Surely it is unchristian, unforgiving, and oversensitive for someone to be ostracized without mercy, even after profuse apologies, simply for having said the “n” word sometime in the past. It is hypocritical for people in government and the media to act like people who have made racist remarks are “contaminated,” and since they themselves are righteous they cannot have anything to do with them anymore. Public figures use the name of God in vain openly every day, and they shamelessly promote and practice all sorts of immorality, yet there is no public outcry against such behavior which is so offensive in the sight of heaven. Racism is wrong, but there are far worse moral problems in America today.
Although the Bible teaches that all people are born with the same spiritual standing before God, that in the church everyone has the same spiritual privileges in Christ (Rom 10:12; Gal 3:28; Col 3:11), and that there should be no partiality in judgment (Lev 19:15; Deut 1:17), the Bible does not teach that everyone should be treated equally. Different people in this world must be treated differently on the basis of their character, their position, their age, and their gender, among other factors. The Bible teaches that greater honor should be given to authority figures (Rom 13:17; 1 Thess 5:12-13; 1 Tim 6:1; 1 Pet 2:17), Bible teachers (Gal 6:6; Phil 2:29; 1 Tim 5:17), and older people (Lev 19:32; 1 Tim 5:1-2), for example. We should have greater respect for the righteous than for the wicked (cf. 2 Kgs 3:14; Esth 3:2; Heb 11:38). In the Old Testament, God blessed kings who pleased Him with extraordinary wealth, and He did not command those kings to distribute their wealth evenly to everyone in the country in order to keep some people from rising above others. God Himself will judge all men after this life is over, and He will give greater reward to some believers than to others, and greater punishment to some unbelievers than to others. The idea in modern America that a public employee should not treat a Baptist pastor any better than a gangster or a drug addict is not biblical, and it is a recipe for societal disaster (cf. Prov 26:1, 8).
Freedom of speech is a right contained in the United States Constitution, although not in the Bible. The Bible teaches that we must be very careful what we say, because we will be judged by God on the basis of our words (Matt 12:37). The Bible does, however, make statements on issues such as homosexuality, the role of women, and other religions that could easily be considered hate speech under contemporary laws of the United States and other Western countries. A ban on such speech is direct opposition to God, to God’s Word, and to God’s people. As pressure on Christians in the United States increases, it appears that sooner or later Christians will have to move to another country where they may speak their conscience without fearing for their personal safety or suffering official harassment. If so, Christians would be leaving America for the same reason for which the first immigrants originally came to America: to find freedom to worship God according to their conscience.