1. Actress Kathy Griffin was recently censored on TV for her acceptance speech at the creative arts Emmys - for a denigrating statement about Jesus, which was considered by some as "hate speech." (I first saw this reported on CNN.) That incident made me wonder if all of talk about hate crimes is not being aimed at Christians specifically (who, for example, would call homosexuality a sin or Islam an evil religion) but really anyone in the culture who says anything denigrating about a minority religious, ethnic, or social group.
2. Over the last week I read Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, a dystopic science-fiction novel about a future world where books are illegal and fireman don't put out fires, they start them - burning books and the houses where they are found. Can you think of a worse nightmare than that? Scary.
3. Several days ago I watched the film V for Vendetta which is about a future Great Britain ruled by a totalitarian government. (To cover my tracks, I should probably say that I don't recommend or approve of the film. It contains graphic violence and offensive language. But it was very thought-provoking philosophically.) It has been called one of the most pro-gay movies ever made. It does not contain graphic sexuality, but it does portray lesbians in a positive light while it demonizes religous fundamentalists and those who oppose homosexuality. The "hero" of the film is a vigallante who executes vengeance on the corrupt government through assassinations and terrorism. It's actually pretty hard to find a good guy in this movie!
So, all of this has me thinking, what should be a Christian's stance on censorship and how are we to engage a culture that is increasingly hostile to moral absolutes? I'm not sure what the answers are and am interested in your thoughts. Here are just a few brief thoughts to kick off the discussion.
1. Christians should never speak or act in a way that is unbecoming to the good news of salvation for sinners through faith in Jesus Christ. This immediately screens out hateful speech - i.e. any kind of speech that is hateful in tone and manner. Falwell's name-calling of Ellen Degeneres back in the 90s certainly did not adorn the gospel or do Christians any favors. It is true that homosexuality is a sin, but it doesn't warrant name calling or meanness any more than other sins like lying, stealing, or self-righteousness and bigotry.
2. Christians do have a responsibility to be faithful proclaimers of the gospel and God's Word. This means that we must speak about all sinful human behaviors (including homosexuality and our own sins, whatever they may be) as (1) rebellious to God, (2) destructive to human beings, and (3) deserving of God's judgment. Christianity is not merely about moral absolutes. We dare not equate (or give others reason to caricature) the message of the gospel with moralism. But on the other hand, the message of the cross makes no sense until it is understood within a worldview that affirms God as creator and law-giver, man as rebellious and accountable, and Christ as redeemer and restorer. There simply must be some understanding of the moral structure of the universe for the gospel to make sense.
3. It seems to me that when Christians shift the battle-lines away from preaching the saving message of the cross towards "reclaiming" the culture and gaining moral turf in the culture, we risk losing our ability to speak from within the current culture as redeemed people. We start viewing people with a different religion or morality than ours as the enemy, instead of fellow rebels in need of redemption.
Do you agree or disagree? What should a Christian think of censorship? Give me your thoughts.