The freedom to express one’s beliefs goes beyond the rights granted to us under the Constitution of the United States (US) of America. As stated in the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Our rights are granted to us by God, the Father of us all. For those of us who are American, our founding fathers clearly understood these rights granted to us through the natural law designed by God. They knew that if these rights started to crumble, our great nation would soon crumble behind it. With God on our side, we must speak with love and truth, even at our own peril.
Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong. Your every act should be done with love (1 Cor 16:13-14).
The alarm on his smart phone nearby jars the man from a deep slumber. Not remembering where he is, he reaches over to find the bed empty next to him. Where is my wife? he thinks. Oh, I forgot; I was traveling. Sometimes, the man gets travel weary, but he knows that he has got to do what it takes to support his family – the father-to-son motto he has always known.
Rolling out of bed, the man gets up to brush his teeth and start the day as he usually does, with prayer. He knows full well that without spending time talking to God, he will struggle to be who He wants him to be. The gospel for the day leaves him feeling lifted by the Word, as Jesus Christ said to his disciples:
Blessed are your eyes because they see and your ears because they hear. Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it (Mt 13:16-17).
Meditating on the Word of God, the man prays once again in his life Lord, help me to be the man You want me to be.
As has become his normal routine, the man proceeds to post on his social media the verse that is most impressed upon his heart. First, he posts it on Twitter, choosing an appropriate picture, then opening Facebook, he attempts to post the same gospel reading using his tablet. But this time, the post is rejected by the system. What the heck? he thinks. Maybe something is wrong with the tablet. Using the smart phone instead, he attempts to post again, but encounters the same issue, so looking through his long list of notifications, he finds two messages from Facebook. The first notification informs him that he cannot post, while the second notification informs the man that he has been placed in virtual timeout. Someone had complained about his posts.
The first reaction of the man is dismay and he looks at the screen in front of him open-mouthed. He knows that he has not posted anything inappropriate, so how can this be? he thinks. Looking through the posts he had published the previous day on Facebook, he sees that they are all family pictures, posts on religion, or posts on current political events in the nation. There is no name calling or vulgarity as those had always been his rule. But having maintained a presence on social media, in one form or another, for over six years, he also know that there is always the risk of censorship or suppression.
The man appeals to Facebook the first timeout from not being able to post and this is lifted, but the second timeout of not being able to post links to news articles or other blogs remains in place. Placing a notice to his friends on Facebook, the man openly declares:
“Facebook is now censoring and blocking me from posts with links or sharing posts with links until August 25th. To the person who complained about the truth, why am I not surprised at your attempt to suppress free speech?”
The response from friends and some family is almost immediate outrage. Who can blame them? Messages and phone calls come in; support is evident. A common theme arises in that it is a sign of the times.
But understand this: there will be terrifying times in the last days. People will be self-centered and lovers of money, proud, haughty, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, irreligious, callous, implacable, slanderous, licentious, brutal, hating what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, as they make a pretense of religion but deny its power. Reject them (2 Tim 3:1).
Yes, a definite sign of the times, he thinks. How does one respond to the suppression and violation of one’s rights? He knows that the first step to be taken is to follow the words of Christ.
Father, forgive them, they know not what they do (Lk 23:34).
The man knows that suppressors and violators of freedom of speech do so at their own peril, for if his own speech can be suppressed, so will theirs in time similarly be suppressed. In turn, however, the man knows that he must also respond. Justice, in fairness, demands it. Although only a small inconvenience, each erosion of the basic rights of free speech and the free practice of religion will create a snowball effect for his own children and the children of others. More creative ways will be required to engage in civil discourse. More creative ways will be required to spread the gospel as Christ, Our Savior, commanded Christians to do. It is not a choice, but an imperative. The response of gratefulness for this rises up in the man from the initial anger. Thank you, Lord, for this opportunity to shine Your light on the rights given to us by You, he prays.
For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God (2 Tim 1:7-8).
Freedom can only be taken from a people who remain silent. For the sake of future generations, we cannot remain silent. May God grant us all the truth and the courage to speak out.