What is hate speech? In the UK, a retired Army officer recently was charged with hate speech after quoting the Scripture that says homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor 6:9-10). He should have added that people who engage in homosexual activity and don’t repent before they die are in danger of not inheriting the kingdom of God. He should have spoken with more nuance, but what he said is fundamentally true.
The Crown Prosecution Service defines a hate crime as “any criminal offense which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice, based on a person’s disability or perceived disability; race or perceive race; or religion or perceived religion; or sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation or transgender identity or perceived transgender identity. There is no legal definition of hostility so we use the everyday understanding of the word which includes ill-will, spite, contempt, prejudice, unfriendliness, antagonism, resentment and dislike.”¹
London’s Metropolitan Police Service added, “Not all hate incidents will amount to criminal offenses, but it is equally important that these are reported and recorded by the police. Evidence of the hate element is not a requirement. You do not need to personally perceive the incident to be hate related. It would be enough if another person, a witness or even a police officer thought that the incident was hate related.”²
This means that whether a statement was motivated by hate is less important than the fact that someone—perhaps not even the person directly involved—perceived it as being so. This is a murky situation that can intimidate people regarding their speech. A disagreement about moral issues or someone thinking that you’re being unfriendly could lead to charges of a hate crime.
In the US, people are not open to rational discussions about certain things. If you disagree with them, people perceive you as a hater. This is an impossible situation. Previously, people could disagree, argue, or appeal to evidence and reason—but now many people don’t believe certain views should even be entered into dialogue with.
There is much hostility in our culture toward Christ and the Church that causes people to feel intimidated about sharing their thoughts. For thousands of years, the world’s main religions held a similar view regarding human sexuality and the purpose of marriage—a view that now is considered hate speech. What can a faithful Christian do? We need to be as simple as doves and wise as serpents. We shouldn’t stir up controversy and conflict, but we also shouldn’t be cowards, fearfully agreeing with gravely immoral choices that endanger people’s eternal salvation.
We must speak the truth in a humble, realistic way. I live in a very liberal city with strong social pressure against traditional views on marriage and family life. Michigan tragically voted to add an almost unlimited right to abortion to its state constitution. When I talk with various people, they presume that I am like the rest of the enlightened Ann Arbor population—supportive of abortion and the LGBTQ agenda—and I get opportunities to meekly and humbly say that I don’t agree with that.
We must lend our voices and prayers to the resistance against evil. “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (Jas 4:7). The devil is trying to block God’s Word from being spoken. He is trying to frighten people into submission, cowardliness, and denial of the faith and basic truths. We must ask the Lord for boldness, courage, and wisdom. In situations with no openness at all, sometimes it’s not helpful to say things that will only provoke greater hostility and hatred. Most people, however, have never heard somebody they consider rational dissent from the prevailing deception. We should look for opportunities where it would be appropriate to speak the truth, even if we are risking social exclusion, mockery, or hostility.
Ask the Lord to help us to do our part. Sometimes we need to push back with love, gentleness, and humility. We need to say we don’t agree and then tell them why. Ask the Lord to help us, and He will.
- “Hate crime,” CPS, https://www.cps.gov.uk/crime-info/hate-crime.
- “What is hate crime?”, Metropolitan Police, https://www.met.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/hco/hate-crime/what-is-hate-crime/.
This article was condensed from a YouTube video called Hate Speech? Time to Push Back that can be found here.