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Pastor's Column


with a potentially helpful twist

  "Freedom of Speech” is embedded in the foundation of our country as an inalienable right of every citizen. Having said that, this inalienable right can also quickly turn deadly when it is misused and abused for one’s own selfish gain at the expense of other innocent people, or when it is misused for the express purpose of hurting or destroying the welfare or reputation of someone.  How sad that such a wonderful blessing can so easily turn into a horrible curse.

  The hurtful and damning words and actions that flow out of a misunderstanding of what this inalienable right of "freedom of speech” actually is, causes untold countless cases of suffering and injustice for innocent people. 

  As we continue to struggle with what it means to possess this "Freedom” of speech, let me suggest that we give serious consideration to what I am calling a “potentially helpful twist” to an understanding of and application of this inalienable right in our daily lives. 

  A sign I once saw said ... “God has given us many opportunities to keep our mouth shut, and we should make use of every one of them.”  If "freedom” is the power or right to speak freely, then it must also include the opposite, that is, it must also include the power or right to not speak if that is our choice. And the power to hold your tongue and not speak belongs to us as a gift from God. 

  You might benefit from a quick review of Martin Luther’s meaning of the eighth commandment where he says ... “We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.”

  One way to think about this is to consider these four questions that we should ask ourselves before we exercise our freedom of speech. (1) Is what I am about to say TRUE? (2) Is what I am about to say KIND? (3) Is what I am about to say NECESSARY? (4) Would God approve of what I am about to say? And of course, if you can answer YES to all of these questions, go ahead and exercise your freedom to speak! But, if you cannot answer yes to all of these questions, then go ahead and exercise your freedom to not speak! Now THAT’S TRUE FREEDOM ... WITH A TWIST ... that if exercised will also glorify God! Let’s give it a try!


(c) 2006 Frankenmuth News