Western society, as it slips inexorably into greater unbelief and alienation from God, has created new laws–both written and unwritten–concerning what is and what is not permissible to say in public. “Hate speech,” as it is called, seems to be the only intolerable thing to the worldly mind of our day (c.f. John 8:43). As a secular, humanist society defines what constitutes hate speech, we observe something of a self-protecting cycle – the world is not tolerant of any speech it deems unacceptable. Woe betide any who seek to swim against this particular rip current! The church (at least, the true church concerned for the truth) is in for a torrid time.

At the forefront of this movement is so-called freedom of choice – freedom to define one’s own identity in any walk of life – sexuality, gender, even species (would you believe it?) Anything that stands against this self-definition is branded hate-speech. That is to say, disagreement has become a crime and being offended has become the new virtue. It is an inherently immature position. It does not allow for intelligent discussion or difference, but rather proudly seeks to assert its dominion over any other position, regardless of the validity of that position. It is a censoring of truth; a shutting down of opposition; a silencing of disagreement. In the name of tolerance, the only thing it cannot tolerate is disagreement.

This position has nothing to do with establishing the truth of what is correct, it is simply a smoke screen whereby a section of society can excuse their open rebellion towards God. It uses ridicule (“Don’t you know this is the 21st century? Don’t you know times have changed?” and Don’t you want to be on the right side of history?). It uses media as a platform and prohibits access to its platform for any dissenting voices. This is not a search for truth, but a suppression of such. It is marked by a closed mind, governed by pride, alive and well in the world around us–and yet this attitude is also alive and well inside of the Church.

When they join a Presbyterian or Reformed church, ministers–as well as congregants–take some form of vow in which they promise to submit to the governing authorities of the church–so long as they are in accord with God’s word. Members promise submission to elders and elders and ministers promise subjection to each other–especially with respect to the wider courts of the church (i.e. Presbytery and General Assembly). Moreover every Christian has the duty of mutual submission, to count others better than one’s self, and to hear the counsel of godly brethren. How then do we observe the hate speech mentality in the church?

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