13 May 2015 - clay

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should

I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.

– Voltaire

Here in the United States we have freedom of speech which often allows us to say whatever we want without risking censure or punishment by the government. This right is without question, one of the most important things the founding fathers of our country put in place. We should be able to express our opinions openly without fear of being imprisoned for them.[footnote]We still face the consequences of our free speech, but that’s another conversation.[/footnote] We are free to say what we want, express ourselves how we want, and believe what we want so long as we are not bringing harm to others.

Last week there was a shooting in Garland, TX. An event was being held in which a prize was awarded for who could draw the best cartoon of Muhammad. Some Muslims believe it to be highly offensive to create an image of Muhammad, believing that the image will lead to idolatry. Therefore, this event was offensive to a certain segment of the Muslim population. Instead of calmly registering their displeasure with the cartoons, two Muslim men decided they would attack the event with the intent to kill at least a portion of those attending.

I believe that most Americans will agree that what these two men were attempting to do was wrong, and can in no way be justified. No matter what Pam Geller or others inside the Culwell Center might have said or drawn, they did not deserve to lose their lives over it. What the two Muslim men attempted was thwarted by a single trained police officer with a service revolver. [footnote]And that kids, is why you don’t start a shootout in Texas. It’s probable that the officer’s weapon used a smaller caliber than most of the weapons carried by citizens.

And to be fair, there were other officers there, it’s just that only one returned fire [/footnote]

Many media pundits have said to the organizers of the event that they should not have held the contest to begin with because they knew what could possibly happen. Based on the Charlie Hebdo attack in France earlier this year, there is some element of truth that it was possible. However, they chose to exercise their right to say, draw, and assemble in a manner they saw fit. They did nothing illegal, and definitely nothing that should earn them a death mark.

But as Christians, which path should we choose? Do we choose the path which intentionally tweaks the noses of those who we disagree with, or do we choose a different path?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

– Galatians 5:22-23, 26

Paul implored the church in Galatia to see that the evidence of the Spirit of God living in them was the fruit that their lives produced. Instead of doing the things that the world did, immersing in the conflict brought on by sin, we as Christians are called to show love, patience, kindness, and love our neighbors as ourselves.[footnote]Galatians 5:14[/footnote]

To me, loving my neighbor does not include drawing a picture of Muhammad. This is not showing love to our Muslim neighbors. Instead it shows that we think so little of them that we choose to insult them. This is not a Christian response. When an artist displayed “Piss Christ”[footnote]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piss_Christ if you’re interested.[/footnote] Christians were offended, and rightfully so. If we are to be considered “in the world but not of it” then we have to show that we don’t use the same tactics against others. If we want to reach Muslims with the Gospel, then we must show love and not intentionally insult.

In the United States, we have the right to do things which are insulting, tasteless, and rude. As Christians, we have the ability to do so, but not the authority. Paul sums it up best by saying:

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.

– Galatians 5:13

Church / Culture

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