In listening to a podcast recently, the host and guest addressed the important need for Christians to understand how we will soon need to readdress the issue of freedom of speech (and even the right to free assembly). They say this because many Christians point to the First Amendment as the authority for why Christians are allowed to speak, when it is the exact opposite. The First Amendment states that all sorts of speech are acceptable. Know this, the Bill of Rights does not give us the right to speech and other freedoms.
If this isn’t clear, let’s consider the opposite. If the First Amendment were somehow revoked, would that then mean that churches would not be allowed to gather together and pastors would not be allowed to preach from the pulpit? Would this mean that Christians would not be allowed share the gospel of Christ’s salvation? Would we not do it anyways, even if the “law” was against us? Of course we should gather and speak!
We must be very aware of what is going on in the world and in our country. Censorship continues to happen at an alarming rate by those who wish to control the messages that others hear, in ways that do break the law of the land. This is nothing new. The Biblical account records many instances in which followers of God were prevented from worshiping and speaking about God in the Old Testament and New Testament. For the
English Ministry, our Acts series highlights one such instance. Peter and John, in Acts 4, responds to the Sanhedrin when they attempted to silence him from speaking about Jesus (and had already arrested Peter and John the night before). In Acts 4:19-20 (ESV), it says, “But Peter and John answered them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.’” While I doubt the apostles were thinking about anything close to freedom of speech, this does address the point of how important it is to be allowed to speak. This is why we must pay close attention when the government attempts to control and prevent certain types of speech. Whether it is the US government, the Chinese government or any government, we must pay careful attention to motivations for why
speech is being curtailed. Thus, speak when it is important to do so, even more so when the Holy Spirit prompts you to speak. And above the laws of the land, love the laws of the LORD. “Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble” (Psalm 119:165).