What about Charlie Hebdo? Is their brand of freedom of speech rooted in Christian values? It is not.
Je Suis Charlie’ is the moniker on innumerable signposts in France and on a myriad of lips everywhere freedom of speech is embraced. Heads of State have paraded with the French to indicate solidarity with them. But for the Christian Community – is there a Biblical perspective to take in the controversies emphasized by the French terror attacks? It seems clear enough that wanton murder is not a Christian value. Most members of the Christian Community are therefore appalled by the actions of the predators. But how do we feel about Charlie Hebdo? Are we tempted for just a moment in time to applaud its journalistic tactics and style? Is their brand of freedom of speech rooted in Christian values? It is not.
Let’s recall that Christians in this country suffer an incessant verbal barrage from our own liberal media. Shall we applaud that? It is the very same thing.
Bringing intentional insult to others is not a Christian virtue. The freedom to bring verbal insult to others may be constitutional here in the U.S. and in many western countries as well – but it is not Christian. For Christians, a Higher Court must be consulted in the way we view our World. In that light it becomes clear that any literary organization that intentionally seeks to expand its readership through the exploitive slander of others is neither Christian nor particularly civilized. (To witness this money motive in action, one has merely to observe Charlie Hebdo’s leap to exponentially publish its post-terror edition and capitalize on the carnage and public sympathies.)
Christian culture must not sink to the slander and profound meanness of the cyber subculture. It must preach a better way instead. By way of illustration, the Bible is clear in both Old and New Testaments that faith in the Christian God and His Son Jesus Christ is the true and exclusive path to the salvation of one’s soul, but it does not espouse insult and injury to those who disagree. ‘Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult.’ (I Peter 3:9)
Some persons familiar with the Bible’s contents will be quick to leap in and point out that Jesus took occasion to insult His enemies. Yes He did – and He did it quite thoroughly – but only when his detractors persisted in slandering His Person, and denouncing the truth He taught. The norm for Jesus’ treatment of others was respectful dialog – even when they disagreed with Him. We should recall that Jesus taught, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.’ (Matthew 5:44)
There are no winners in the fight for freedom of speech against those whose religion ridicules such freedom. A similar and equally pointless pursuit is found in the widely held notion that a western-style democracy can be planted in nations which are culturally incapable of absorbing such political philosophy. The kind of push back embodied by the religious extremists in Paris this January was profoundly evil, but frankly so were the tasteless and arrogant taunts of the so-called ‘journalists’ and cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo.
There is no defense for Islamist terror. It is bestial and ugly. Christians must never defend false and violent faiths. Neither however, should they defend deeply unchristian verbal behaviors in the name of freedom of the press. What one has a right to do or say under the laws of the Land is not congruent to what one has a right to do or say under the Laws of God.
Nastiness begets nastiness. An abrasive media creates trouble for us all. Intentional insults are no more Christian than well targeted bullets. The problem it seems, for the civilized world (if one still exists) is that both the Kalashnikov carriers and ‘mighty pen’ proponents will continue to exacerbate PEACE until none can be found.