One of Saul Alinsky’s rules was that the activist should always make his adversary live by his own purported rules. In the case of what Christians are currently up against, one of the secularist rules is their so-called commitment to free speech. They are quite pleased with themselves about that commitment, and preen themselves in the mirror. But at the same time, their inner tyrant wants to control public discourse in such a way as to quit losing all those debates. Thus they have devised an interesting workaround. They still defend free speech, ardently and sincerely, but free speech is now defined as that which contributes to the public good, makes them feel better down to their toes, and releases multi-colored butterflies into the public square. When I was dealing with a crowd of hostiles a couple years ago at Bloomington, one of their chants was “We believe in free speech! But this is hate speech!”
In other words, in order to feel good about shouting a speaker down, they had to reassure themselves that they were still sound on the fundamentals. They were still obeying their own rule, or so they said, even though they were manifestly not doing so. They have gotten themselves into the epistemic rat hole of shouting down a visiting speaker with the words “we believe in free speech.” Ooohhkay.
Now of course free speech is not an absolute. When we are standing before the throne of Christ, giving an account of all that we have ever said, we will not be able to defend our verbal cruelties, lies, slanders with a lame appeal to “free speech.” God is Lord of the tongue, and He evaluates the jar of our hearts by the droplets around the upper lip of it. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” (Matt. 12:34). And on the basis of that evaluation, He will judge our lives at the Last Day.
“But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matt. 12:36–37).
So setting the boundaries and limits of free speech is a prerogative of Deity. This is yet another testimony that the secular state is aspiring to that position, and wants to stand in the position of God to us. Christians, among all people, must be singularly uncooperative with this vain enterprise of theirs.
As I say things that are offensive to the ruling elites, as I declare things that are true to a generation suckled on government school lies, they don’t react well — they spiral into ever increasing cognitive paralysis. For example — oh, by the way, language alert — in response to a recent blog post of mine, a typical defender of the new civility rose to the occasion.
“@douglaswils fuck off hater. Saying slavery is better than 2 people expressing their love physically? Fucking trash.”
Now I should care very much whether my language is acceptable — but I should only care if it is acceptable to God. If it is acceptable to Him, then it will therefore be acceptable to everyone else who matters. And those who find it unacceptable will be the very people that I want to have difficulty with it.
And this brings us to the last point. Because Christians are, by and large, easy to get along with, their tendency is to want to prove themselves cooperative. In the new climate, with the biblical parameters of free speech receding by the minute, they want to continue to express themselves, but in a way that makes it easy for the intoleristas to accommodate them. They bend over backwards to apply Paul’s dictum, “let your speech be gracious.” I want to urge them to apply the whole sentence, “seasoned with salt.”
We should not be saying things that differ with the regnant follies, but which are expressed in such a way as to make it easy for them to make room for what we said. Diffident and tentative, we hesitatingly suggest that perhaps, at the end of the day, when all things are considered, that same sex unions are not ideal, human-flourishing-wise. There. That should clear the censors. There are two problems. The day is not far off when it won’t clear the censors, and secondly, what good will it do when you have already done the bulk of their censorship work for them?
Let me show you a more excellent way. Our task is to challenge the boundaries of what they have defined as civil discourse. Provided my language is scriptural, I should work to make sure that what I say is way out of line as far as they are concerned. The bureaucrats down at the Department of Registered Free Speech Words should be tied up in knots. They issued their new regulations just last week, and then you got up in the pulpit, along with a thousand other faithful pastors, and put your foot right through the side of them. Good job.
Now some might stumble over my appropriation of Paul’s “excellent way” comment, taken from his preface to the most decoupaged chapter of the Bible. Why are you acting like the combativeness you urge is consistent with what Paul said about love? We should do this in imitation of the apostle, actually. Just two pages later, Paul says this: “If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come!” (1 Cor. 16:22, ESV).
One of the reasons why our secular culture is trying to redefine marriage is because the church first showed the way, by redefining love.