Here’s something I am quite certain of, we are accountable for our words. There is the power of life and death in our tongues, it says so in the bible. What we say, speak, and write, matters.
But we are responsible not just for the actual words we say, but for how they are subjectively received by others. I see this quite clearly in myself. I have a dark sense of humor and can be pretty self depreciating, but I must be careful not to wound others, not to create misunderstandings. I was just joking, is not an excuse. They took it all wrong, is not an excuse. They have no sense of humor is not an excuse.
Some 90 percent of the time, I’m sorry I offended you really is the appropriate response. I can only carry that gentle spirit so far however. Like no, I will not be hiding my cross under my sweater simply becasue it triggers you. I need my cross more than you need your comfort zone, sorry.
First let me say, I am not interested in banning any free speech or regulating hate speech, or passing any laws, or kicking people off of facebook as Franklin Graham himself recently experienced. (Ha! Shout out to my new brother in detention. We have now bonded, we are kin.)
So I’m not interesting in a social justice campaign, I simply have a desire to change a few hearts and minds, to open some eyes as to the nature of the problem.
People really are radicalized by hate speech, by words, facts, and emotion that confirms their own biases, that steers them in a certain direction. You see this happen in advertising, in fake news, in addiction, and in the radicalization of Muslim terrorists.
The truth is, if you take some wounded, bent individual and start talking to him about how the great satan that is America is the root of all his personal problems, and then start hinting at how he can go from powerless to powerful, you’ve hooked yourself a victim. 98 percent of hurting people will walk away from those messages, but that two percent really is at risk of driving a car into a crowd of pedestrians.
Those are totally made up statistics. I have no idea what the actual numbers are, but I have spent many years on the internet watching people bullied into behaviors, lured into porn, nurtured back into addiction, and taught to hate entire groups of people. Those red pills I often complain about have a long history of being woven into the background of some pretty serious crimes. People often deny this truth, but if you read the actual words, you will often see celebration, encouragement and praise for great atrocities. “The Incel Rebellion has already begun! … All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!”
Elliot Rodger killed six people and injured fourteen others near the campus of University of California, Santa Barbara, before killing himself inside his vehicle. He is just one. There are many others who have a well documented history of looking for answers in the red pill and instead finding something that just seems to nurture their offense, hatred, paranoia, and violence.
You are accountable. Those who radicalize people are seldom held accountable in a legal sense, but they are at least partially accountable in a moral sense. I am quite certain God is not looking down and going, “oh well, not your problem, you can’t be blamed for how some people subjectively receive your words.”
Christian people need to know this, they need to pay attention to who is listening to them and what the subjective response is. I’ve tried to address this issue with the red pills, with some objecting to the #Metoo movement, with some outright racists, with people much like some of the stragglers who remain attached to the Westboro Baptist “church.”
I am quite certain that God does not look kindly on those who wittingly or unwittingly, use His word not to heal, but to inspire hatred. It is hard to sort out in a world that has gone quite mad, because today everything is “hate speech.” That’s a real bummer, but the fact that there is an extreme response going on in the culture, does not entitle Christians to go extreme in the other direction.
A pastor I am really fond of once said, “is the Lord’s word safe in your mouth?” I love that analogy and I take that very seriously. If I am claiming Christ’s name, I am fully accountable for what His word looks like in me, and how it is received by others. I can’t be blessing and cursing out of the same mouth. God is love, it says so in the bible, so if what is coming out of our mouths is hatred, that’s not of God.
I really get people’s subjectivity, the way my new buddy in the timeout chair, my partner in crime Franklin Graham, never said anything close to hateful, but got censored anyway. I myself have been unfairly hidden behind a twitter warning, locked out of facebook, bumped out of various places, because the mere fact that you are a Christian, now allegedly makes you a hateful hater.
So the struggle is real, the injustice is true, and we all walk through it patiently waiting for the internet world to sort it all out. All in good humor here but Romans 15:1, “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.”
To me it doesn’t really matter if you are Left or Right or what your politics are. People of a more leftward bent are often to be found inspiring antifa, hatred of Trump voters, hatred of Christians, hatred of America, so the field is broad, and the seeds that are planted in it are coming from all sides. They are bad seeds too, seeds no Christian should ever sow.
People I like, people I admire, wrestle with these issues too. Some have made declarations like, “we are not responsible for people’s subjective response to the word of God.” I tend to think we are. It is our job, if you will. We are called to see to it that message is received as it is intended. Obviously we cannot fully control all outcomes, nor force people to see the light. But sometimes our alleged word of God is actually just the word of man, out trying to slay our personal enemies.
I’m curious to hear what others think about that? How has this issue impacted you? Do you think you’ve ever engaged in hate speech? How responsible are you for the words you say? How burdened are by how they are subjectively received? Really the sky is the limit, I’m simply curious about this matter and want some input.
As you can see below, I’m all ears…..