Lust & Anger

The last couple of items from the sermon on the mount up the ante from no murder & no adultery to no anger & no lust. Looking at this from a public policy standard, I have been suggesting that the nature of these requirements require voluntary compliance. You can’t make lust or anger against the law.

How should a Christian respond to speech issues that related to these. Should a Christian be in favor of limits on hate speech and pornography?

6 replies on “Lust & Anger”

Should a Christian be in favor of limits on hate speech and pornography?

I think you have to go back to trying to decide the difference between those laws that are good ideas vs. those laws that bear legal consequences. I know that evangelicals believe that Jesus meant that literally hate equals murder in the eyes of God. I think that’s silly and that none of the perhaps several authors of the Sermon on the Mount would be happy that it is being interpreted without metaphor.

But that having been said, it is clear from the language that hating in the privacy of your heart is a big, big deal. Lusting is a big, big deal.

But America is special not because of the freedoms we have, those ebb and flow (big ebbing going on right now). America is special because of the promise of freedom. We believe we are free, and that we have the right to be free, and speech is the most symbolic freedom of all. When you stop people from speaking their minds freely, you strike at the core of the value that makes the American experiment what it is. I have argued in other forums with you that America is the ultimate expression of what started in England withe the precursor documents to the Magna Carta. I went further and argued that this secular movement formed Christianity what it is today. Perhaps it is time for Christianity to return the favor and remind America what it means to be tolerant of a repugnant point of view.

As always this is a tough issue — I wouldn’t be moved to write if it were easy.

For me there are two ways that modern Christians can be opposed to regulations like I suggested. You captured the first writing, America is special because of the promise of freedom.

In otherwords, liberty is a virtue. As you say, even if we don’t always let it flourish, it is absolutely an American value.

I can see another position. Namely, the internal growth of which Jesus spoke is only possible in an environment of freedom. A dictatorial regime can ensure particular conduct, but cannot transform the person in the way Jesus requires.


You know, sometimes you look particularly evil in that picture of yours.

I support unfettered speech. However, I think I support unfettered speech, and personal liberties in general, because they are necessary to have a fulfilled life.

Right now, I can’t think of an example in which a supporter of freedom as the goal would behave differently than me. But freedom as a means is different than freedom as an end.

This is all very soft, and I reserve the right to completely reverse myself if necessary.


It’s an ugly area, and this is the main reason to like Fred Thompson, if you are so inclined. He is currently the only presidential candidate who says, “I don’t know, I recognize how hard a question this is.” to a lot of questions. This Sunday one of the Sunday talking head shows asked him directly, “Do you support a Constitutional amendment banning abortion. He said something very close to, “No, and it’s not because I personally think abortion is okay, I don’t. I am strictly pro-life, but previously in my life I have not known when life begins, and although I know now that life begins at conception, I don’t think it’s the federal government’s role to legislate based on what Fred Thompson believes.”

When athletes use the third-person when referring to themselves, I hate it. When Thompson said that, it was to me, the most endearing phrase uttered by a politician since Colin Powell said almost the same thing, “I don’t know when life begins.” As it happens, for strictly Supreme Court reasons I am almost certain to vote for whichever Democrat runs in the general election, but “I don’t know.” almost always makes me fall in love with a candidate.

Okay, so all that was to say that I am sympathetic with your struggle about how to balance complete freedom of speech against an impassioned plea for killing a certain ethnic group. I struggle with it, too. In the end, I think it can’t be compared to “Fire!” in a crowded theater because the danger to life is not imminent. I really hate the idea that [evil racist here] gets to speak and be protected, but it is the price of freedom.

It also can generate some wonderful moments. I wish I had saved the picture, but a few years ago there was white supremecist rally in southern Wisconsin near here, and the police were called out to protect the supremecists from being assaulted by the protesters. There was a photograph on some newspaper site showing a line of cops creating a line of interlinked arms holding back the angry crowd. It’s maybe the greatest thing ever to see a white cop and a black cop holding hands to protect someone advocating a hateful racist position.

But then you have a young, impressionable white kid from all-white rural Wisconsin hearing a message of hate from his respected elder.


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