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Thursday, March 07, 2013

Hate speech and homosexuality

Christianity Today recently published an article by Albert Mohler, in which Mohler said that Tim Tebow, football player and evangelical Christian, recently canceled a speaking engagement at a large Baptist church. At least part of the reason he did seems to have been that the pastor of that church has been vocal about his belief that homosexual behavior is sinful. Mohler quotes a CBS Sports employee as saying that that pastor has been “guilty of serial hate speech.”

This episode raises the possibility that a Christian may be prosecuted, even jailed, for saying something consistent with the Bible, and without hating anyone. And the prosecution might be for hate speech.

Why do I say this?

I believe that homosexual activity (not homosexual tendency) is sinful.
Is the previous sentence hate speech? Maybe.

It shouldn’t be hate speech. Christians should not hate homosexuals, gossips, or axe murderers. We should hate the things they do, and wish that they would stop, but it is possible to love them, anyway. Ask any parent if it isn’t possible to love the person, but not love all of their actions! Christ didn’t approve of the way Zacchaeus used his position as a tax collector to cheat people, but He loved Zacchaeus.

Of course, it is possible that statements about homosexuals are founded on hate, whether expressed or not. Some of the motivation behind attempts to label homosexuals as particularly sinful, or to oppose the legalization of homosexual marriage, may be due to hate. That’s not the Christian way.
In the bold sentence, at the beginning of the short paragraph above, I said that homosexual sexual activity is sinful. If I understand my heart, that wasn’t hate speech. It was a fact, based on what the Bible says. If I say that stealing cars for a living is sinful, that’s not hate speech. It’s a fact, based on the Ten Commandments. Opposition to marriage between homosexuals, or to homosexual sexual activity, isn’t hate speech, morally, unless it is said, or written, with hateful motives, no matter what is or isn’t politically correct, and no matter what the law says.
The Westboro Baptist Church says, on its web site, that “God hates fags.” There’s no doubt of their motives -- their URL is That’s hate speech. God doesn’t hate fags, any more than he hates people who make statements like that. Both need repentance and redemption.
Saying homosexual activity is sinful doesn’t need to, and shouldn’t mean that the person who made it hates homosexuals. But it may be a different matter under the law. The Wikipedia article on hate speech says this:
In law, hate speech is any speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence or prejudicial action against or by a protected individual or group, or because it disparages or intimidates a protected individual or group. The law may identify a protected individual or a protected group by disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, nationality, religion, race, sexual orientation, . . . or other characteristic
As I understand it, if the Wikipedia is correct, the bold statement above may, indeed, be hate speech under the law. It may disparage or intimidate homosexuals. That wasn’t my intention, but never mind.
Any Christian (or anyone else) should be able to say that sexual activity between homosexuals is sinful, in a loving manner, without it being labeled hate speech, no matter what the laws about hate speech may say. If saying such means that a person can be charged with a crime, well, so be it. Believers have been imprisoned for all sorts of “crimes” in the past, and, if Christ tarries, will be in the future. It should be a mark of honor to carefully state one’s convictions, in a Christ-like manner, especially if there is danger of being punished for it.

Thanks for reading. See here for a previous post on homosexuality.


atlibertytosay said...

Very good post.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, atlibertytosay.

FancyHorse said...

If that is true, I'm sorry to hear that about Tim Tebow. I would have thought that he would support a Christian pastor's right to preach what the Bible teaches.

We need to pray for our pastors and our churches, and to be ready to stand firm in spite of persecution.

Martin LaBar said...

Indeed, we do. Thanks, FancyHorse.