When people no longer want to hear the truth, there is hopelessness. This is true because only the truth can “set us free” (Jn. 8:32), and when we close our eyes to the truth, we are rejecting the only hope that we have. This is why it is so desperately important that we maintain a child-like humility with regard to the truth, being ready always to meekly receive it from whatever messenger it may come, (Jas. 1:21).
God is the ultimate source of truth. In his prayer to the Father, Jesus acknowledged that “Thy word is truth,” (Jn. 8:17). James said, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning,” (Jas. 1:17). Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life, no one cometh unto the Father but by me,” (Jn. 14:6). When we discard God’s lifeline of truth, we are abandoning our only hope.
So what does this say for a nation, a people, or any person who no longer wants to hear the truth? Is this not a deadly defect? When we refuse to even listen to the debate, consider the alternatives, or give a respectful ear to our opponents, have we not doomed ourselves? When we shut down the means of dissenting, or prevent objections from even being heard and considered, how does there remain any hope for our own salvation?
I have watched with great concern the recent events in our nation concerning the stifling of dissent. We have seen large, powerful information corporations censor opposing views, and even eliminate smaller, newer companies which would have allowed consideration of an alternative view. We have seen peaceful debate cut off, and the vilifying of those who would even suggest the need to debate important issues. Where is the hope for our pursuit of truth and excellence when we are not even permitted to hear the discussion, or consider the alternatives? Have these powerful information companies become so sure and certain of themselves that no more discussion is needed? No dissent is permitted? Can such a situation possibly be healthy?
Suppose these Internet companies, on whom we are relying to provide a means to preach the gospel, decide that our message is no longer valid? Suppose they say we are hateful, intolerant, bigoted, or simply “inappropriate”? These are the accusations which have been made against Christianity for centuries. Why not cut it off, and silence the opposition? It seems there is now a great willingness and tendency to do so. When people no longer want to hear the truth, they will find many reasons to silence it. And if they are so minded, and if they have the power to do so, they will silence it not only to themselves but to everyone else.
Have you ever been silenced when you were trying to make a valid point? How did that make you feel? Have you ever watched with astonishment, after being silenced, as the crowd gradually came around to the position you were trying to suggest in the first place? But usually that happens only after much destruction and loss. How did you feel when you saw the group going astray and making a terrible mistake, yet unwilling to listen to any advice or correction? Can you relate to the Old Testament prophets? Or perhaps to our Lord when he said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her own brood under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate, (Lk. 13:34-35).
Christianity is a rational religion, a system of evidence, knowledge and truth. When we confront error, we do not silence it, we overcome it with the truth. We “stop the mouths of the ignorant” not by gagging them, but by teaching them, and by teaching others who may be listening to them, (cf. Tit. 1:9-11).
The truth is a marvelous thing. It has great liberating power, but only if it is humbly received and put into practice. As a nation and as individuals, we desperately need to get back to loving the truth, and humbly acknowledging that we may not know everything. Opposing viewpoints are not a threat to those who understand the truth, and are prepared to defend it. Opposition is a threat only to the insecure, the ignorant and the intolerant. And intolerance of free and honest discussion is something we should never tolerate.
-by Robert C. Veil, Jr.