Hate Speech in a “Tolerant” Society

This week is a pivotal time for our nation. The Supreme Court will be making decisions regarding the nature of marriage. Actually, that’s not true. The 9 justices will be making decisions about what they believe to be the nature of marriage. Their choices don’t actually change the essential qualities of what marriage is and is not. Rather, the Supreme Court will merely offer precedent for certain cultural practices to be either upheld or martyred.

As you have probably heard, there is much being said about hate speech. I just read a post on Facebook from a young man who said he didn’t believe words of hate were anointed by God, therefore any hate speech delivered from the pulpit could be readily rejected as something driven by man rather than inspired by God. On the surface, I agree with that statement. God has not ordained men and women to go into all the world to hate others. In fact, the Bible is clear that Christians have been given the exact opposite joyous task — to love others.

The disconnect happens when it comes to defining what is and is not “hate speech”. My working definition of hate speech is any comment that is intended to inflict unnecessary damage to a person’s identity or soul.

For example: A pastor says “If a person practices homosexuality they are nothing more than defective animals and deserve to be treated as such.” That is hate speech because it’s intent is to dehumanize a person. It’s an effort to strip someone of their God-given identity as someone, not something, created in His image.

Another example: A pastor says “I believe homosexuality is against God’s design for human relationships and sexuality, and I do not support gay marriage.” That is not hate speech because it is only an expression of disagreement, and even disapproval, of certain actions. While some may be frustrated by this statement, it does not slander or debase others.

Believe it or not, you can disagree with someone and it not be hateful. True, that capability appears to be approaching extinction in our society, but it still exists. I can, and do, believe that homosexuality, along with many other aspects of our sexualized cutlure, is against God’s design for human relationships and sexuality. I do not support gay marriage, but I do not hate homosexuals.

I do not believe homosexuals are going to hell because they are homosexuals. Nor do I think murderers, liars, thieves, abortionists, rapists, pedophiles, etc are going to hell because they do the things they do. I believe every human is naturally separated from God’s grace because of the sin nature that dwells in all of us. Humans who never know the life-changing forgiveness of God through faith in Christ and repentance from sin are the only ones who go to hell — regardless of whether they are homosexual or not.

In typing all of this, I know that I am inviting the labels of “bigot”, “hate-monger” and the like upon myself. Ironically, or perhaps hypocritically, because I do not agree with the “tolerance” movement I am thereby deemed “intolerant” when in reality I simply disagree. Just like I do not approve of alcoholism, child abuse, polygamy,  torture, necromancy, or scores of other things that people engage in. The Tolerant are often the most intolerant. And the so-called Intolerant maybe just want to be able to believe what they believe without the desires, not rights, of others shoved down their throats.

Sure, some people who are oppose gay marriage are absolute jerks. Some of those who profess Christ don’t reflect Him very well in how they approach the issue. But not all of us are like that. I love Jesus. I love hetero and homosexual people — not because of who they have sex with, but because they have intrinsic value as image-bearers of the Creator (including the unborn people). In loving people, Christ has called me, and every other believer, to speak the truth in love. Sometimes that means loving them in the most difficult but necessary ways — like telling them they are settling for something far less than what God designed them for, and that the wholeness and fulfillment they seek is found primarily in Christ.

No matter how many people I may disagree with, I will do my best to love them, even if they consider my efforts hateful.

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2 thoughts on “Hate Speech in a “Tolerant” Society

  1. Clare Flourish says:

    Yes, you have the central idea of hate speech, that it devalues the human being. But I think your second example is hate speech. The gay man is “against God’s design” you say, though the heterosexual person is not in this very important sense. Given that gay people are as likely to be prideful, theftuous, etc, this devalues the gay person.

    Why do you feel the need to express this opinion?

    1. brcates says:

      Claire,

      Thanks for reading, offering your input, and asking for elaboration.
      I do not believe homosexuality is the sole means of settling for less than God’s design. Everyone at some point buys into the same general lie that plagues mankind — I can do what I want, regardless of what anyone else, especially God, has to say about it.
      I would, and have, told heterosexual people who are cohabitating or having engaging in pre- or extra-marital sexual activity that they are settling for something far inferior to God’s intention for human companionship and sexual pleasure. Homosexuality has no monopoly on that. I have done the same thing in my life. I have, and still do at times, chase after things that rob God of glory and me of true, lasting happiness simply because I wanted to. I have even gotten to points where I can come up with a myriad of level-headed, seemingly logical justifications for the indulgence of my desires.
      Here’s the problem: no matter how I, or anybody else, justifies actions deemed outside of God’s design, the nature of those actions do not change. When we redefine things like sexuality, marriage, or any number of other things, we aren’t truly redefining them. We are merely rearranging ourselves around new perceptions of unchanging truths.
      For example, an unborn child is not a lifeless lump of tissue, despite what some may say. We’ve convinced two generations of Americans that abortion is just a choice, but that does not change the eternal reality of what we’ve done in killing 50 million children in the name of “reproductive rights”.
      I feel I’m beginning to ramble, so I will wrap this comment up. I hope it was helpful. If not, please let me know, and I will try again

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