As a blogger and a writer, I cannot help but feel a little on edge at the rise in violence against bloggers and writers who exercise their human right of freedom of speech. I write about my Christian faith and I have the freedom to do that – at the moment. Freedom of expression is a part of the Human Rights Act 1998 – Article 10:
‘Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.’
This blog is not written to cause offense. It is written to encourage and uplift.
This blog is not written to force anyone to agree with me. It is written to share the good news of Jesus Christ with everyone who reads it.
This blog is not a crime. It is a space where I can freely express my love for God and that is in step with Article 10. I am not breaking any rules.
I write this blog post as a reaction to the news of a US-Bangladesh writer who was hacked to death because his writing angered Islamist hardliners.
Avijit Roy was an atheist. He promoted secular views. He wrote a book called ‘The Virus of Faith’. He received death threats.
At face value, me and Avijit have not got much in common. He was an atheist. I am a Christian. He promoted secular views whilst I promote faith in the Lord Jesus who died for the sins and rose victorious. He wrote a book. I am still yet to get published. He received death threats… Should I be concerned for other bloggers and writers, including myself, who speak freely about their faith or lack of it in case we are confronted violently because of our convictions?
Although me and Avijit are very different in our views, we share a common love for the written word and for freedom of expression. We share our beliefs passionately with the wider world and enjoy creatively expressing this through blogging and writing. I am sure we could celebrate our differences over a cup of tea whilst bonding over a good book. He could choose Richard Dawkins and I would choose Alister McGrath. We could have a discussion in which we may not agree with one another, but we can respect and treat each other with love and kindness despite our differing views.
Freedom of expression allows us to do just that – to express our views, thoughts and beliefs without the fear of persecution, imprisonment or death. However, freedom of expression should not be abused to deliberately provoke or attack someone. There is nothing loving about trying to cause offense and aiming to hurt another person based on their views. What does it achieve? More anger. More hurt. More resentment. Less peace. Increased antagonism. More hatred.
As a Christian blogger and writer, how should I respond?
- Love the Lord and Love Others.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second [commandment] is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these.’ (Mark 12:30-31)
I can continue writing my blog because I love the Lord and my blog is a reflection of that! It is an expression of my worship, love and adoration. I delight in writing my blog for the glory of the Lord. Furthermore, I can continue writing my blog because I love others and want them to share in the good news of Jesus Christ. I would not be loving my neighbour as myself if I kept this wonderful news to myself!
2. Show Love Towards Others Through My Blog.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
I pray that I will be patient with those that may disagree with my posts and respond kindly to all. I want my posts to be kind and not aggressive or deliberately mean to others. I will only boast in the Lord, not on my own merit. If this blog becomes about stats and fame and I gain a prideful heart, this blog has lost its original purpose. I do not want to dishonour people through the words I write. I want to respect others and will always seek to do this when I write. I do not want to rant and become aggressive when I engage with others over my blog or social media – what good does it do? I do not want to delight in the evil of this world but rejoice in the truth of Jesus Christ. For He will never fail. I can persevere with this blog because my hope and trust is in God!
3. Love My Enemies
You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)
There are those who seek to destroy freedom of expression and will persecute those who disagree with their views. However, God calls us to love our enemies. How can we display love like 1 Corinthians 13? How can we show love to those who hack fellow bloggers to death? Or pray for those who flog writers like Raif Badawi, the Saudi blogger who criticized Islam?
I think we can only really love our enemies, pray for them and forgive them if we have truly experienced forgiveness ourselves from God. It does not mean that it is easy. I don’t think Jesus Christ was thinking “This is a piece of cake” as He was being crucified. I think it takes something that can only come from knowing how Christ died and rose for each of us personally. Once we know what true love and forgiveness is, we can truly love, pray and forgive those who commit such heinous acts. It is not easy. But we should forgive because the Lord has forgiven us (Colossians 3:13).
Whether an atheist, a Muslim, a Christian, an agnostic, a Sikh, a Hindu, a Buddhist… whatever our background or belief, we should be able to write and blog, share and discuss, agree and disagree, out-do each other with honour… we should show love and respect to each other and not live in fear as we passionately share our hope with the world.
As for my hope, it will always be firmly fixed on Christ’s death, resurrection and glorious return. And I hope I can continue to share that message through my blog faithfully with all people, showing Christ’s love for them through my words.