Balance Freedom of Speech with Being Careful in What We Say
The Tongue Is a Dangerous Tool that We Must Tame
In one of his Psalms, David writes that he will be careful in what he says so that he doesn’t sin. He talks about putting a muzzle on his mouth (Psalms 39:1). He says nothing about having freedom of speech.
James is clear about the dangers of an uncensored tongue. A small part of our body, the tongue can do great harm, setting a whole forest on fire from the single spark of a careless word. What we say can corrupt our whole being, setting our life on fire, a fire born from hell (James 3:3-6).
Jude likewise warns about us saying too much. He writes about people who slander what they don’t understand, operating on instinct like irrational animals. In doing so we destroy ourselves (Jude 1:10).
Freedom of Speech
Today too many people assume that freedom of speech gives them the unfettered right to say whatever they want. In the process they often hurt others and risk making themselves look foolish. Or worse yet, their tongue causes them to sin.
They—and us along with them—will do well to put a muzzle on our mouth, to tame our tongue. We should use our words to praise God (Psalm 40:3) but never to cause harm to another. Watching our words with care will keep us from sin and setting our souls on fire.
Responsibility of Speech
As a society we will do well to follow David’s example, as well as James’s and Jude’s wise counsel. Instead, too many people grasp the concept of free speech that we can say whatever we want, however we want, whenever we want without a thought given to the consequences. Yet freedom of speech carries a responsibility. Our freedom of speech is not without limit. As followers of Jesus, we have a duty to speak truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), to muzzle our mouth so that we do not sin, and to not say things that may harm others.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.