Freedom of speech as Americans means simply that we have the ability to express opinions, criticisms, and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship or legal sanction. It’s built into our governmental charter. Yet, notice that there are still limits to the things we may say as Americans. We cannot threaten to do harm to governmental leaders without repercussions. We cannot slander a person with no consequences. Nor can we expect that we have our freedom of speech in another country and have their leaders look favorably upon criticisms or judgments of them. Words have consequences! Even with “freedom of speech,” there is discipline involved in what we say and how we say it. Said another way, freedom must go hand in hand with discipline. So consider this question: Can a Christian American have complete and total freedom of speech as much as any American? The answer, according to scripture, is “no” (consider 1 Peter 1:13-19; 2:13-25).
Please note that there is freedom in Christ (Gal. 5:1). The New Covenant is called the “perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25). However, one would not argue that they could use their “freedom of speech” in Christ to speak lies to one another (Eph. 4:25). One could not use their freedom of speech as a Christian to speak corrupt words or to sow division (Eph. 4:29; Jude 19). One cannot rightly use their Christian liberty of speech to curse men or speak evil of rulers and those in authority (James 3:8-12; 2 Peter 2:10-11) One cannot have a Christlike spirit and grumble and complain (Phil. 2:14; Jude 16). We cannot, with Jesus’s approval speak words that tear down (Gal. 5:13-15). We see then, that ALL of our Christian liberty is governed by King Jesus.
Brethren, listen, if Jesus is not pleased with the way we use our tongues in person or in online posts, we have no liberty to keep speaking and posting as if He is – Even if all other Americans do say and post those things! We are called to a higher standard (1 Peter 1:13-19; 2:21-22)! For a few practical speech/posting patterns that are not pleasing to Him, reread the paragraph above very slowly. Submitting to His law means, I’ve got to guard my words – what I say, how I say it, and why I say it (James 3:1-12; Matt. 12:33-37). Submitting to His law means I have to look to Jesus for my authority to speak and my glory for why I speak. Christians, Jesus calls us to do better and be different!