When we inform people of what the Bible teaches, are we engaging in “hate speech?” For example, if a gospel preacher or Bible class teacher reads Rom. 1:26-27 during a public sermon or class, is he violating restrictions against “hate speech?” That passage reads: “For this cause God gave them up unto vile passions: for their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working unseemliness, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was due.”
Or, suppose a preacher points out what the New Testament teaches about the practice of homosexuality. He quotes the above passage from Romans, as well as the passage in 1 Cor. 6:910, which is also quite pain on the matter. Suppose he explains the Greek words behind those passages, and gives their meaning from reputable lexicons. He draws no conclusions, but lets the Scriptures speak for themselves. Still, the position of the Scriptures is clearly against such a lifestyle, and no one can miss that point. Has he committed a “hateful” act in pointing this out? Has he done anything “hateful” if he simply explains what the Scriptures teach on the matter? Suppose he also cites the relevant Old Testament Scriptures as background? These are even more pointed and unmistakable. Is he now guilty of engaging in “hate speech?”
I recognize that in the United States of America at this time, we do not have criminal laws against “hate speech.” Indeed, that phrase, which you will notice I am placing in quotes, is subject to broad interpretations. What one person considers “hateful” another considers a faithful rendition of an authoritative source. Is it possible to teach what the Bible says on the matter, without being hateful? I believe it is, in fact I believe that’s what we have been doing for many, many years.
But the time may come when members of “protected classes” become so incensed at the preaching and teaching of the Bible on this and similar subjects, and they raise such a strong, vocal objection, that they carry the day and such speech is outlawed. Because of our amazing constitution, America is unlike the nations which have attempted to outlaw “hate speech.” Our constitution, in the very first amendment, protects the freedom of speech, even if it is offensive and hateful. But that could change. Already we see regulations against free-speech on certain forms of social media, and in the private sector. People have lost their jobs, been subjected to public censure and ridicule, and have suffered other extreme measures because it was perceived that their speech was “hateful.” This isn’t to say that people have not engaged in truly hateful speech, of course they have. And no one is defending that. But I think you can see how it becomes very difficult for people to discern between what is truly hateful and what is not.
I would like to remind everyone that the Bible was not written out of hatred, and is not a book of hate. Although we may find its teaching offensive, sometimes in direct conflict with our own beliefs, we must yield out of respect to God, because the Bible is the inspired word of God. If we are going to follow God, we are going to respect and obey the Bible, regardless of whether it is popular or politically correct. The same book which teaches against hatred and bigotry teaches that “every Scripture is inspired of God,” (2 Tim. 3:16), which means it is his word. When the Bible says that it’s writers were “moved by the Holy Spirit,” this means that they were writing the word of God, (2 Pet. 1:21). Depending on where I am spiritually, I may find the Bible offensive, I may find it shocking, I may find it out of step with the times, but one thing I must acknowledge: it is not hateful. And it is not hateful to humbly and faithfully declare what we understand God’s will to be. In fact, one could argue it is hateful to do anything else. No doubt some have preached it in a hateful way, but to simply proclaim what the book teaches is not engaging in “hate speech.”
If I am arrested sometime, or simply barred from Facebook or YouTube, I want you to remember that the same could happen to you, because an alarming number of people in this culture are rejecting the Bible as the word of God. Many nations have already outlawed it. In the meantime, be thankful for your First Amendment, and use it wisely.
-by Robert C. Veil, Jr.