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Freedom to hate
When we criminalize the symbols, we do not take away humanity’s freedom to hate, which comes not from society or government.
In Germany, possession of Nazi paraphernalia is illegal. I know someone whose father served in WWII and sent home a genuine Nazi flag, which at the time his mother (living in England) decided to wash and hang with the sheets to dry in the garden. Not terribly mindful, but now that flag is still around. It’s not a crime to own it here. It’s not a crime for billionaire Harlan Crow to have a “Garden of Evil,” though he meant it to be a place to contemplate how not to be evil.
Regardless of the law of the land, people, being free moral agents, have freedom to make choices as to what is good and what is evil. In Galatians 5, Paul wrote:
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. Galatians 5:13-15.
“The flesh” is a word Paul always used to describe the spirit of a human, apart from the saving power of Christ. It is always in opposition to God’s will (Galatians 5:16-17), which is to pour yourself out to your neighbor and value others like you do your own self. Putting the needs of strangers above your own family is not a normal human action.
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do[e] such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:19-24.
In Romans 13:10, Paul wrote “Love does no wrong to a neighbor, therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.” Symbols of hate, and actual hate are positively correlated, but not always causally related. Making the symbols illegal doesn’t stop the hate in people’s hearts, which is a result of distance from God’s standard of love.
Therefore, the hunt for extremism, and the resulting moral panic, say, of anti-government Jew-haters in the military, or street gangs in the military, don’t necessarily reflect a problem strictly confined to the military.
Dr. Carter Smith, a retired Army CID special agent who has written extensively about military gang activity, told Military.com that the “military has gang problems simply because it's a microcosm of the surrounding society.” What you find in society, you find in the military, simply because that group is made up from the larger group. It is not the group that’s a problem, it’s the times we’re in.
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Paul wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3 about these times.
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men. 2 Timothy 3:1-9.
We find this inside the church, as well as outside the church, some with the appearance of godliness, others who spurn the concept of religion, and yet others who hold to different religion. The signs are everywhere.
Erick Erickson spoke about Andrew Tate, who is making headlines in the extreme right, in places like Tucker Carlson’s Twitter podcast. Tate is a pretty bad guy, a misogynist, a Muslim who believes in the literal fear of God, versus one who endures mocking. It’s interesting that self-identifying Christian nationalists would show agreement with such a person, but not surprising: creeping into households and capturing weak women, burdened with sins and led astray, is surely part of these times.
Make no mistake: Jesus is coming. If not in my lifetime, or the lifetime of anyone I know, He is coming. The world is speeding headlong into a global information superstructure. With this will come a global thought and symbol policing.
It’s one thing for Nazi symbols, which represent hate and evil, to be made illegal. But the same spirit and political pressure which takes those symbols of hate and classifies them as crime, will one day take the symbols of faith of followers of Christ—the cross, the icthys, and the Bible itself, and say they are symbols of hate. The symbols may be misused today by those who do hate, but they are symbols, not the hate itself.
When we criminalize the symbols, we do not take away humanity’s freedom to hate. That freedom does not come from society or courts or governments. It was given to us by God. Only God—through Christ—can turn that freedom to hate into freedom to love.