July 18, 2012

Speech Is Not Free

Freedom of speech is enshrined in the laws of numerous freedom-loving countries. In 1791, just four years after the writing of the U.S. Constitution, the First Amendment was ratified, guaranteeing this important freedom. In 1948 the United Nations recognized this in Article 19 of its Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 

It seems, however, that the exercise of this right is becoming increasingly difficult—especially when one’s statements coincide with a biblical worldview. Any scientist who expresses belief in creation is immediately considered inept and is marginalized. Biblical scholars who take the Bible as the inspired Word of God and accept key beliefs such as the Trinity, the virgin birth, and other miracles, are considered ignorant of recent scholarship. Individuals who accept that “marriage was divinely established in Eden and affirmed by Jesus to be a lifelong union between a man and a woman”* are questioned—even within the church. 

“Bob” is someone I’ve known for a long time. He’s kind, intelligent, dependable. He’s also gay. As much as I care about Bob and accept him as the wonderful person that he is, the Bible still clearly condemns Bob’s lifestyle. Just as there is “scientific evidence” for evolution, and “scholarly evidence” for a heavily redacted, neutered Bible, some claim science to support “alternative sexual lifestyles”—even within the church. The basic issue is: Who or what is our authority? Upon what basis do we decide what is truth? Science? Cultural norms? So-called experts?

The Bible—sola scriptura—has always been the gold standard of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It is the guide that lightens our path (Ps. 119:105); it is the Word that points us to the One who is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). And it still speaks freely to all who will listen. 

* From the 28 Fundamental Beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church

Gina Wahlen is assistant to the editor for the Adventist Review. This article was published July 19, 2012.