Friday, February 1, 2008

"Love Speech" Legislation

Al Siebring has an insightful piece on the "No Apologies" website, going into the issues of freedom of speech in Canada. You can read it here:

and some follow-up on

The part that really bugs me about the whole discussion of "hate speech" and whether we offend someone is that it forces people to lie. We have to proclaim openly that we really dig someone and really don't mind what they say or do, or else we can get hauled in front of a quasi-judicial setting (minus the fair trial, apparently) and put through the wringer, emotionally and financially. Lie about your feelings, and you'll be fine. Express yourself frankly, and you're in a sling.

Frankly, homosexuality creeps me out. Many people I've known with same-sex preferences exude a spirit that grieves mine, yet if I actually came out and said that, there'd be hell to pay.

Funny I should say that: I actually do hold my tongue, but because I'm afraid some Human Rights Commissioner might come through the door at 2 AM. It's because God calls us all not to react to a spirit but to pray about how to respond: in that way, there'd be literal "hell to pay" for not holding my tongue. We must hold our tongues until the words that come out are words founded in love. As Fred Allen once said, "it's as easy to take back an unkind word as it is to recall a bullet from a pistol."

Paul writes that we're not struggling against actual flesh-and-blood people, but find ourselves in a spiritual war, which can only be fought through prayer and circumspection, before we respond with any actions.

James warns us about the tongue: the "littlest member", but which "kindleth a great fire". Our words -- and that includes the written word in its many forms -- have greater power than anything else.

... (the tongue) is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.
But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.
-- James 3:8-9, 14 (KJV)

And that Truth is that if we curse others, we are cursing the image of God, whether we like it or not. That's why we have to hold our tongue and let God take it over: if we curse someone or even speak unkindly to them, no matter how much they might offend us, we'll have disobeyed The Great Commandment.

Is not hate speech legislation an attempt by government to usurp God's authority? God has already laid "love speech legislation" on us, and if we're walking in His ways, we don't offend Jews, Muslims, homos, native Indians, or anyone else. If we walk in God's ways, Truth triumphs. If we walk in God's ways, people see the light emanating from us and are attracted to that same light. And -- to quote Charles Price at the People's Church in Toronto -- the light that shines the farthest burns brightest at home.

God's ways include dealing with issues -- particularly those that offend us -- in the exact opposite way from the way our flesh would react. Let me elucidate. A couple of years ago, I was blessed to work alongside a very openly gay man. We worked weekends in radio, and there were times the things he said and some of his mannerisms made me cringe. Like many homosexuals, he talked openly about his preference and made lewd remarks -- the sort that would get a straight man busted if he said them in front of female co-workers. So I started asking the Lord, "why do I have to work with this guy?" And He was right there, with the response: "because you are called to love him and show him what a Christian is really supposed to be". So I made an effort. I wonder how well I succeeded.

But one day, as I was sitting at home, my mind strayed towards him. There was a pile of Bibles on the coffee table, which I was going to take to Rainbow Mission to hand out. The Lord said, "give him one tomorrow".

My mind immediately flashed through the man's possible reaction: is he trying to convert me? Is he trying to get a message across that he doesn't approve of my lifestyle? Is he one of these judgmental fatheads and he's trying to make a subtle point? But the Lord was adamant, so I took one of the books to work the next day.

Now, to find the appropriate time. There didn't quite seem to be the Right Time To Do It, so I kept waiting on the Lord. Finally, our beat reporter left the room ... my co-worker was about to do his last newscast of the day ... and the Lord said, "Now!" I went over to him and said, "I'm supposed to give you this". I handed him the Bible. Inside, I had written, "To my good friend _____. May this bless you in ways neither of us can imagine!"

His reaction blew me away. I'd even say he was "overjoyed", as much "overjoyed" as I'd ever seen him. "Wow! Thank you! I know we have one at home, but I can't remember where ... look: it's got a ribbon bookmark, and everything!" It was genuine gratitude, and as I went into the booth to do my newscast, I started laughing at how God knew exactly what I should do.

The next day, he was chatting with the beat reporter, and said, "Oh, I'm a little hung over ... we were out last night, celebrating my birthday." My eyes dilated. I said, in the spirit, "I didn't know it was his birthday", and the Lord said, "no, but I did".

I still don't know how or even whether that Bible has ministered to the man or not, but the seeds are sown. He has a deep distrust for Christians -- referred to Stephen Harper as "a dangerous man", for opposing same-sex marriage -- and I pray that what he saw in me was a Christian pas comme les autres -- or, more to the point, closer to what Jesus has in mind for us.

God's Love Speech Law is far greater than anything governments and special interest groups can come up with. If we Christians set the gold standard -- or the God Standard -- for speaking and acting in Love -- pure, uncompromising, all-blessing Love, "hate speech laws" become redundant.

And in case the point needs to be reinforced, note what I said above, that "hate speech legislation" is a way governments have of usurping God's Authority (as, indeed, is the attempt to "define" marriage). Somebody else tried to usurp God's Authority, too ... name begins with an "S ... A ..."

No, not Santa Claus!

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