Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dealing with Censorship Bullies

After I advised Melvin, a Christian, that it is sometimes advisable to make use of the courts, he confidently responded, “I don't think that we should take others to court. Christ told us not to judge but to love by forgiving.”

Besides judging my point of view, his response is problematic in other ways. For one thing, Jesus never taught that we shouldn't judge others. Instead, He warned that we'd first have to correct our own blindness so that we'd then be able to see clearly enough to truly judge others (Matthew 7:1-5).

In addition to this, there are many times that we have to judge if we are going to be faithful to Scripture. I'm not just talking about verbally correcting others when they sin or even disciplining our own children. Sometimes we have to bring offending parties to court. It's a righteous thing to bring charges against a rapist or a burglar. If we fail to do this, the offender will remain free to strike again, and if our neighbors learn of this failure, they will heap contempt upon our faith if the offender strikes again. Let me assure you that this failure will not bring praise and honor to our Lord.

Many will retort, “Well, aren't we supposed to forgive?” Yes we are, but we are also supposed to avail ourselves of the criminal courts that our Lord “established” as “God's servant...to bring punishment on the wrongdoer” (Romans 13:1-4). Yes, pray for this wrongdoer, but also seek justice.

Sometimes, we have to go to court in order to live faithfully. Sometimes, we have to speak up to expose evil (Eph. 5:11) or to speak of the hope we have in Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20). What should we do if a bully refuses to allow us to fulfill our obligations to our Savior? Here's a good example I read about today:

*In October 2010, campus security [at Chemeketa Community College] approached [student Caleb] Pearson while he was distributing pro-life fliers and displaying informative signs about abortion at an outdoor location on campus. Stopped from sharing his message and told to leave...He was also told by an officer that he was prohibited from wearing a pro-life T-shirt on campus that displayed a message similar to his signs. http://www.adfmedia.org/News/PRDetail/5304?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1

The Alliance Defense Fund intervened, and, as a result:

*The college’s Student Rights and Responsibilities Policy has been revised to eliminate its problematic speech code that prohibited “offensive” or “derogatory” speech. Such restrictions are often abused to suppress religious, pro-life, or other forms of speech that officials may consider to be “politically incorrect.”

Unjustly, it is often Christian speech that has been deemed “offensive or derogatory.” We have become a soft target for the bullies because many of us hold to Melvin's viewpoint that it's illegitimate to go to court to seek justice. However, as a result of this legal intervention, not only was Pearson's right to speak freely restored, but others would also now be able to exercise their constitutionally guaranteed right of free speech in order to exalt Christ on this campus.

If we have a Scriptural mandate to speak about our faith and against injustice, then we also have a mandate to challenge the bullies who would prevent this, even if they are institutions. Yes, Christ did instruct us to love, as Melvin had asserted. However, we have to ask ourselves which is more loving – submission to the bully or requiring that the bully conform to the law by not depriving others of their rights?

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