In a nutshell, here is a definition of the term:
That definition is far too broad and allows for just about any subjective opinion to turn any comment into a hate speech. Sadly unbelievers do not like to revise those broad definitions and put realistic boundaries on what hate speech really is. For if they did, they would not be able to do the following:
Christian Concern reports that Michael Overd and Michael Stockwell were found guilty during the four-day trial of using “threatening or abusive words or behavior or disorderly behavior within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress, thereby, and the offense was religiously aggravated.”
Saying that a member of a certain group of people will go to hell is not hate speech for it is not threatening, attacking or insulting anyone. It is telling them their current future destination. It is no threat because humans do not have the power to throw anyone into hell. It is not attacking because the comment is stating a truth and it is not insulting a person or their beliefs but stating a fact. Again, sadly, the secular world does not like to hear where they are actually going when they die for many consider themselves and other good people not worthy of being sentenced to hell.
In this case, we see a good example of Paul’s words where people only want to hear what they want to hear. They do not want sound doctrine but words that ‘tickle their ears’ or makes them feel good. The preachers in that case did not do that thus they were punished for telling the truth and not lying to unbelievers. Good for them. We are to be punished for doing good and not for doing evil. As much as we do not like street preachers, we do not like to see them unjustly treated nr do we like to see the reasoning given by the prosecutors:
The prosecutor in the case argued that Jesus being the only way to God “cannot be true.”
The preachers insisted that they were speaking truth from the Bible, but prosecutor Ian Jackson argued that they cannot proclaim that what they believe is true.
“To say to someone that Jesus is the only God is not a matter of truth. To the extent that they are saying that the only way to God is through Jesus, that cannot be a truth,” Jackson reportedly said in court.
I do not know what qualifications the prosecutor possesses that allows him or her to make such statements but they are wrong, of course. Jesus is the only way to God. But the problem faced by believers today is the fact that unbelievers control much of the legal system, the governments and other key areas of authority and they do not like the Bible Christ or Christians.They want their own ways not God’s thus they feel any biblical reference to be a threat to them and their ideals. Believers need to be aware that certain acts they do will draw negative responses from those they wish to convert. The believer will need to learn how to do the ‘time’ when they do their ‘crime’ without complaining.
We mentioned earlier that we do not like street preachers. That is true because we see something missing from their ministry that was present when Jesus did his street ministry. These guys and women like to appeal to Jesus to support their way of doing street preaching but they limit themselves to ‘going to hell’ messages and ignore everything that Jesus did when he was on earth. One of the things that is missing from modern street preachers’ ministries is the good works that Jesus and his disciples performed. You do not see these men and women healing the sick, feeding the poor, helping with domestic problems and much more. They dispose of the good works, the very acts that will grant them a willing ear to their speaking, and jump to being concerned about the soul only. This is not right as they too need to plant, water and prepare the field for harvest and they are not doing that.
Another key element the modern street preachers leave out is tact. Jesus was wise and did not sin in his ministry nor did he allow himself to be trapped by those who opposed him. The modern version seems to walk in where angels fear to tread and get themselves in a whole lot of trouble hoping to get some imaginary persecution badge pinned to their chests. These people are not wise nor do they use the wisdom Jesus used in his ministry. People did not arrest Jesus for he did no wrong in his ministry, this is something modern street preachers need to use to evaluate their own ministries. Getting arrested is not necessarily a good thing nor does it help one’s cause.
People need to take a harder look at how Jesus conducted his ministry before they move into the public arena where the audience is less than friendly. Preaching the gospel message insensitively is not the only thing one needs to do when trying to win people to Christ. You have to truly care about the people you are seeking to win and not merely look at them as more notches on one’s gospel gun or as a stepping stone in receiving favor from God. Jesus didn’t just preach, he ministered to people’s needs whether they were believers or not. Sometimes he stopped preaching to meet the people’s needs. Something modern street preachers need to learn. Evangelism doesn’t solely depend upon a person moving their mouths all the time.It depends upon the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit doesn’t always use preaching as his method.
People have problems and they want solutions to their problems not more preaching, more prayer, more positive words. They want real action and Jesus gave the people real action. We need to do the same. Yes that opens us up to being hurt and used but Jesus did not say do not do good works if you are going to be hurt or used.We are to do good all the time regardless of what happens to us. Good works go beyond street preaching and enters the realm of truly loving our neighbors as ourselves. Doing unto others doesn’t stop at yelling at them from a soapbox to get saved or else. It may not even include the yelling or the soapbox but it does bring the truth. When we help people we are not joining their ways but obeying Christ and providing us with a better opportunity to share the gospel, an opportunity that may save us from receiving criminal records and prison terms.
But then it might not for we still have to preach the gospel even when we do good works and people may not like the results of our good works and seek to stop them from taking place. They still may seek to place believers in prison but it may be a better sentence or one may find a more receptive audience because they see the good one does. Doing good to others goes a lot further than simply preaching at them