There is a growing concern that our society is losing what we regard as a fundamental right – freedom of speech. This attack on freedom of speech is actually deliberate and demonic. Freedom of speech has been seen as an essential characteristic of any successful society. People must be generally free to say what they believe, so that there can be a testing of ideas against each other and against reality. Otherwise, false ideas and programs will flourish to the detriment of society.

Of course, there are limits to free speech. We have laws to prevent libelous or harmful hate speech. We must curb speech which stirs up trouble or deliberately seeks to deceive people.

But we are seeing a new definition of “hate speech” which is truly alarming. Anything that opposes or criticises the current woke ideas (such as quoting the Bible on homosexual behaviour) is deemed “hate speech”. It is now common for those holding Christian views on ethical and moral issues to be shouted down so their view cannot be heard.

Facebook, Twitter and other platforms now censure people with views that do not fit in with their platform. Historical figures are being “cancelled” because they held views no longer acceptable to the woke generation.

Language is portrayed as dangerous because it can be used to oppress minorities such as women, gays, blacks and migrants. Hence there is nothing wrong in telling lies if it promotes the cause.

Such an appalling situation is the end result of a history of the coarsening of language. Within the last generation there has been a serious increase in foul language with swearing, blasphemy and salacious speech becoming common in literature, movies, radio and in everyday language.

To hear foul language from women was unbelievable a generation ago but that is sadly no longer the case. To find a novel without swearing and blasphemy has become unusual. Movies now deliberately debase language to avoid a “G” classification.

The most common expression of surprise is  the blasphemous “OMG”. Does no one take seriously the warning of the Third Commandment: You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses His name (Exodus 20:7)?

Speech is a characteristic unique to humans. It is part of our being created in the image of God (Gen.1:27) which enabled man to communicate with God. (Gen.3:9ff). Speech is necessary for God to reveal His purposes to man and for man to relate to God in prayer and worship.

It  is a very special gift which allows us to communicate with each other in a way that facilitates a social existence. It allows us to record events, relate experiences, pass on learning and facilitate scientific discovery. It is necessary for the expression of thinking.

The theory of evolution is unable to explain the origin of speech. All evolutionists can say is “Human language and speech seem to have evolved between 100,000 and 500,000 years ago”.  While humans share with animals most aspects of speech acoustics, physiology and neural control, they do not have the vocal tract set-up and vocal use ability to express thoughts in coherent language. There is no fossil evidence to indicate the beginning of speech. Even more difficult to explain is the ability to communicate language in writing.

What we are seeing now is not evolution in speech but the very opposite! The invasion of foul language and blasphemy into everyday speech reflects the moral decline in society. Substance abuse deprives individuals of the self-control that once put a curb on bad language.

The decline in Christian standards removes restraints that once existed. Foul speech reflects an ungodly and corrupted mind. As Jesus said; “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body ?But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them (Matthew 15:17-18).

Why is the modern attack on free speech so serious? For many,  this as a deliberate undermining of democracy – and that is true. But it is more than that; it is a blatant expression of spiritual rebellion!

John’s Gospel begins In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God , and the Word was God. The very essence of God was logos – the gift of communication. Thus the message of the Old Testament prophets was to proclaim the Word of God as it came to them as Numbers 24:4 makes clear: the prophecy of one who hears the wordof God, who sees a vision from the Almighty, who falls prostrate, and whose eyes are opened. The word of God was given to the prophets who conveyed it to the people by speech. This was the very essence of communication between God and sinners.

When Jesus came into the world it was to bring God’s revelation: the Good News of salvation. Thus He was the Word. What we are seeing is an attack on God’s Word. There is no doubt it is a spiritual issue emanating from those who openly reject God’s Word. Jesus told Satan when he was tempted, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4).

How do we counter such a dangerous and destructive trend? There  is only one means: the Word of God  because, as Hebrews 4:12 reminds us, the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

To allow satanic inspired opposition to silence us is to give in to the devil. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God (2 Cor.4:2).  Jesus said: Blessed rather are those who hear the Word of God and obey it (Luke 11:28).

It follows then, that as Christians, we should be careful in the way we speak. Paul characterizes Christians as those in whom the Holy Spirit brings sincere love and truthful speech (2 Cor.6: 6-7). He exhorts Titus to set his congregation an example with soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us (Tit.2:8).

Our words are important. In this day and age it is all too easy for Christians to become careless in their speech, both in occasional swearing and untruthfulness.  Jesus warned: But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken (Matt.12:36).

How true is Proverbs 12:18, The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing! For that reason we should make Ecclesiastes 5:2 our goal: Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)

  • Donald Geddes