Today, on Facebook, I saw a lot of activity revolving around the campaign to WipeoutHomophobia on Facebook (WHOF). I support the idea behind this group. Its purpose is to generate awareness of hate-speech that has led to hate-crimes. As a Christian, I recognize that supporting this group has its implications. Thus, I decided to clarify my thoughts behind my public support. I am for the freedom of speech, I am against censorship, and I am all for discussion of difficult topics.
Freedom of speech is not necessarily free – people can and do get hurt – so we ought to respect that freedom. Personally, I’ve hurt people with my words. Saying things that offend, insult, upset, or cause discomfort to others is in our human nature. On the flipside, the ability to reason is, also, within our capabilities.
In some cases, our free speech and our reason don’t go hand in hand. We want our voices to be heard, but not if someone is going to speak against our viewpoint. Hence, I am also against censorship, but uncensored, free, speech has a cost. Sometimes, we lose favor with public opinion (something I’m not unfamiliar with) and other times the price of our words can be deadly. Speech that leads to violence and death should be met with education over censorship, in order to prevent hate-crime.
As a result, I have a challenge for the protesters – whether for or against GLBTQ rights – my challenge is borrowed from Jesus himself:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matt. 22:37-40, NRSV).
Those “neighbors” Jesus was commanding people to love were the nations that the religious leaders opposed because they did not adhere to the laws of God. In doing so, Jesus changes the rules. I propose we try to end hate – whether it’s hate for the gay community, the homophobe, or the religious people who preach against their interpretation of sin – because love is the only thing that will save the world…it’s why Christ died for us all.