Looming over the deepening humanitarian crisis is a deadline of Friday for civilian evacuation operations at the Kabul airport to give way to the transport of the remaining 5,400 U.S. military personnel in the country in order to meet a target date of Aug. 31, set months ago by the Biden administration, for a complete U.S. withdraw from Afghanistan.
One of our priests called me recently and said, “What a strange day…”. These are indeed very strange days. In fact, they are quite odd! At a click of a button some people find themselves cancelled, called out, called in and boycotted.
One of the most disturbing trends I am observing amidst these attempts to realign society is the eradication of free speech by tech giants and other individuals.
Even if I disagree with what another person says, I have long believed that freedom of speech is a fundamental human right.
Given that free speech was forbidden under King George III, our Founding Fathers chose to place free speech in the first of the 10 amendments to the Constitution, which we know as the Bill of Rights. George Washington famously said, ‘If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.’
Our own Christian history reveals that the church has previously traversed seasons where self-centered tyrants have attempted to eradicate this precious freedom and the ability of Christians to proclaim the truth of the gospel has been under pressure, and yet, the church remains very much alive!
I want to urge Christians to remember that the ultimate goal of our freedom of speech is the proclamation of the gospel for the glory of God alone. Fighting to preserve free speech only for our own benefit shifts our gaze from Christ to us. The Apostle Paul writes, ‘Focus your minds on the things above, not on things here on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with the Messiah in God. [Colossians 3:2-3, ESV]. Setting our minds on things that are above contrasts with the things that are on earth. We are urged to pursue a deeper knowledge of Christ himself and all that belongs to living with and for him.
The centrality of Christ, our desire to be found in him and share the gospel with others is our motivation to safeguard the precious freedom of speech in our generation.
Gospel truths are worth contending for and as the blood of the martyrs in every age down to the present day movingly reminds us, gospel truths are truths worth dying for. We might be able to imagine dying for people, but not so many of us today consider biblical truths about Jesus so precious that we would contend and maybe even die for them – but the apostles, the reformers, modern martyrs have thought differently and as we reflect on how they contended for precious salvation truths down through the ages of the church, we stand on their shoulders, their blood has been the seed of the church.
The Old Testament book of Esther tells how a Jewish girl became the queen of Persia and saved her people from a plot to destroy them. With the possibility of death staring at her in the face, Esther chose to speak up for truth and the result was glory to God and the deliverance of his people.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise. [Psalm 51:15, ESV]