Do you Have the Right to Offend?

From Pixabay.com
From Pixabay.com

Is your right to offend more important than your right not to be offended?  Which right promotes love best?

From Pixabay.com
From Pixabay.com

In our good old United States of America we hear the saying, “By rights I can do this” or ” To do ______ (fill in the blank) it is my right.”  Sometimes I think too many people think almost anything is their right to do, have or say; can that really be true?  The “Bill of Rights” (first ten amendments to our constitution) are the real foundation of our rights by law and of course and subsequently approved amendments or related laws passed and tested by our true and bonafide government.  This article is focused on the Fourth Article in particularThe Freedom of Speech, and of the Press . . . . .

You may have the right to say it or print it, but should you?

Scandal Music Division, The New York Public Library. "Argentina" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed March 29, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/8e1ec306-722f-facb-e040-e00a180678ae
Scandal
Music Division, The New York Public Library. “Argentina” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed March 29, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/8e1ec306-722f-facb-e040-e00a180678ae

Truth is important.  If a crime has been committed we need to know exactly what has happened

Slapping the Mouth for Telling Lies The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Art & Architecture Collection, The New York Public Library. "Slapping the mouth for telling lies." New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed March 29, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e2-c58a-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
Slapping the Mouth for Telling Lies
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Art & Architecture Collection, The New York Public Library. “Slapping the mouth for telling lies.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed March 29, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e2-c58a-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

in order to capture and bring to justice the perpetrator or perpetrators.  Lies published widely or pronounced as truth in an open forum can be deemed damaging and the people who spread the disinformation can be subject to a libel suit.  My focus today is on speech and publication that falls into a huge grey area: short of libel and what is not prohibited by any law.    Yet as a Nation founded on Christian principles from which we have learned, we should do things with the spirit of love: is this not the higher standard?  Need something be said that inflicts verbal harm with nothing to demonstrate the utterance has a redeeming quality (or the result does not demonstrate a redeeming quality)?  Is it not true that some emotionally sensitive truth can be stated with respect and care and, not intentionally said to inflict emotional harm?

The better way to achieve communication without deliberate intent to offend  is when it is said with civility and in the spirit of Christian Love.

From Pixabay.com
From Pixabay.com

For me and my Brothers and Sisters in Christ we strive to be obedient to the guidelines we discover in The Holy Bible.  In studying  scripture we learn the power of the words spoken by a human tongue that can destroy a person, risk creating hatred and disrupt harmony among all the people involved.  Below you will find some of the references from The Holy Bible that warn about falsehood and teach, or encourage, the use of loving speech (and by logical extension, this includes the printed word as well).  It sometimes seems that in these times Christians must take care not to offend some people in our society yet, some people seem to have free rein to offend Christians. Thanks.

Selected Biblical Excerpts*:

      1. James 3:8 ESV

But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

      1. Proverbs 29:11 ESV

      2. A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.

      3. Romans 12:18 ESV

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

      1. 2 Peter 3:3 ESVfree reign

Knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.

      1. James 1:26 ESV

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.

      1. Proverbs 18:21 ESV

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

      1. James 3:9-10 ESVdays it seem

With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.

*Use of ESV Bible verses: https://www.crossway.org/support/esv-bible-permissions/