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Saturday, February 25, 2017

You Have the Right to Express Your Opinion

I have friends and family that voted for Donald, Hillary, and some of the other guys. I have friends who marched, and friends who didn’t. I even know people who went to the presidential inauguration and one of the balls.

The political conversation on social media seems to have gotten fiercer after the election. I really thought it would be over on January 20th. If anything, the rhetoric has gotten worse since the President took office!

And then, there are issues. Some are important, and my friends have opinions all over the place. Immigration, the wall, the ban, abortion, helping those in need, veterans, the travel ban . . . .

In America, we have the right to express our opinions. We can broadcast what we’re passionate about. As long as we don’t use hate speech (unless we rap it—just saying), we can say what we want to say.

I believe in freedom of speech.

I believe in the freedom to peacefully protest.

You have those rights.

But . . . there’s a way to do it.

Are you a Christian? (I mean a born-again person, a follower of Christ.) If so, can we have a conversation about free speech and protests in a Christ-like way?

Jesus expressed His opinions. They were God’s opinions, and He is God. He said things honestly and from the unique vantage point of understanding the hearts of the hearers. He said some hard things:
  • Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness (Matthew 23:27).
  • Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do (John 8:44a).
  • But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men (Matthew 16:23).
  • Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves (Luke 19:46).

But, Jesus is love. It’s His essence. Jesus came to earth because He loved all people—even those He called out. He died for them, as well as for us. He also spoke lovingly:
  • Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows (Matthew 10:31).
  • But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19:14).
  • O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! (Matthew 23:37).
  • Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom (Luke 12:32).
  • (At His crucifixion) Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34a).
  • She (the woman caught in adultery) said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more (John 8:11).
  • I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep (John 10:11).

What does this have to do with stating our opinion, saying what we think, and expressing our views? Here are a few thoughts:
  1. Take a deep breath. Before you say what you want to say—or put it on social media—step back for a few seconds and consider if it’s something you need to say.
  2. Be kind. I’ve been shocked to see how ugly people can be when they respond. Consider both the offended and the offender when you spout off. Don’t say something that might hurt the family. Don’t spout ugliness. And, of course, don’t use vulgar language or cursing. When you publish online, it’s out there for the whole world to see. Make sure it’s kind.
  3. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything.
  4. Represent Christ. Would Jesus approve of your stating your opinion in these words? Is your position (or post) consistent with biblical values and morality?
  5. Be considerate. Most of us don’t want to hear gross stories; see medical details, spiders, or snakes; watch distasteful movie clips; or witness every meal you eat. Most of us don’t want every post from you to be a sales pitch. Think about your readers.
  6. Be safe. Be careful with putting recognizable places (your home, your children’s school, etc.) on social media. Be careful about putting children’s pictures on social media. Be careful about posting children in any state of undress, especially if they’re looking straight at the camera. Be extremely careful about posting anyone else’s children, too.
  7. Before you hit the post button, look over what you’ve written. Make sure you’ve said things the way you want to. Proofread and rewrite, if necessary.

The Bible says a Christian is salt and light. Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:13-16).

Let your speech be alway with grace,
seasoned with salt, that ye may know

how ye ought to answer every man (Colossians 4:6).

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