Free speech is one of the ‘freedoms’ we hold very precious in our society.

 The Constitution of Canada incorporates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Section 2 of the Charter grants to everyone, among other things, freedom of conscience and religion, and freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media. Section 1 restricts the granted freedoms by making them subject “only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society. (Wikipedia)

We say that everyone should have a right to have and express their opinions and we also wisely put  ‘limits’ on this freedom with laws covering ‘hate speech’.

 The Criminal Code prohibits “hate propaganda.” The Canadian Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination on various grounds, and forbids the posting of hateful or contemptuous messages on the Internet. . . . . These laws are considered controversial by many commentators because of the perceived threat they pose to rights.  (Hate speech laws in Canada – Wikipedia)

You can’t say anything that you want if it is hateful or contemptuous towards others or identifiable groups.   Sometimes free speech with no limit serves an agenda that is far from good.  History shows us examples of how people have twisted free speech for evil ends;

 Europeans remember a time when free speech didn’t produce a happy ending. . . . . They do “take free speech seriously,” and in fact many of them think their system of free speech is freer than ours. Their view of human rights was forged immediately after World War II, and one lesson they took from it was that democratic institutions can be destroyed from within by forces like the Nazis who use mass communication to dehumanize whole races and religions, preparing the population to accept exclusion and even extermination. For that reason, some major human-rights instruments state that “incitement” to racial hatred, and “propaganda for war,” not only may but must be forbidden. The same treaties strongly protect freedom of expression and opinion, but they set a boundary at what we call “hate speech.”  (Free Speech Isn’t Free – The Atlantic, Garrett Epps Feb. 2014)

Free speech isn’t a Biblical ideal.  Rather, the Bible warns Christians about being too ‘free’ with our tongues.

The Bible tells us that  what comes out of our mouth can cause a lot of trouble; “. . . the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”  (James 3:5,6)

We have a responsibility to control what comes out of our mouth; “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.” (James 1:26)

Jesus tells us that ‘free speech’ can be very unclean; “It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.”  (Matthew 15:11)  According to Jesus our words let other’s know what our hearts are like; “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.”  (Luke 6:45)

Christians are called to speak God’s Word into a hurting confused and often childish world.  This calling is not to condemn or condone. Rather we are called to a maturity that is tempered with compassion; “we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,  but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.” (Ephesians 4:14,15)

In a world hostile to God’s truth and those who speak it, this is not free speech – It costs.

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