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Why Freedom of Speech and Politics is Spiritual

The Old Courthouse, courtesy of travelpod.com

In my #SpeakZA post from yesterday I mentioned that the topic of freedom of speech and press was, in my view, a ‘spiritual’ topic as much as any.

I thought I would make it clear why I believe that. Some people might find such a statement unusual, others will agree with me, so this is obviously for the former.

The idea of freedom of speech has, in its original form, to do with justice in this world — allowing people to air their opinions without the sword of the state coming down on them. Justice is, of course, a spiritual topic as much as a governmental or a political one, although ultimately it is a spiritual topic because government and politics are too.

Note what I am not saying. I am not saying it is a ‘religious’ topic. Religion and spirituality, although sometimes intertwined, are not really the same thing, at least not in the way I make my definitions.

Religion has more to do with doing things or acts that will somehow help someone to attain favour with God or attain salvation. I don’t believe that’s a healthy spirituality.

Tradition (worth a mention) is simply a way in which someone may live out their spirituality, so there is nothing wrong with tradition in my eyes, until tradition becomes a religion.

Spirituality is an all-encompassing term for living, in the way I like to use the term.

Let me put it another way. Many Christians prefer to live a faith and spirituality that’s about Jesus rather than the faith and spirituality of Jesus. The spirituality of Jesus is clear when one reads the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the Bible. Here are some pointers about Jesus’ spirituality:

1) He was compassionate to all.
2) He had a strong sense of justice mixed with mercy. (No justice system is truly just unless it understands mercy– but mercy cannot be mercy without a proper justice system, either.)
3) He healed all who came to him. Both physically and emotionally.
4) He was a Hebrew man, which means that he never separated spirituality from living. (This is part of my point. The separating of spirituality from living is a Greek tradition, not a Hebrew tradition.)
5) He worshipped the God of the Hebrews, Yahweh.
6) He called himself the Son of Yahweh.

There’s more too, of course. This is only a small list to get to the jist of my point. From this list we can see where politics and government fit in — our government ought to be compassionate, just and merciful. But these are issues that primarily have to do with the heart of man. Hence, a spiritual issue as much as any.

I mention Yahweh to show that if I follow the spirituality of Jesus I think it is necessary to also worship Yahweh. This, and the fact that Jesus called himself Yahweh’s Son, shows that spirituality is ultimately a relational thing — a relationship with God and our fellow man. I believe Jesus is the one who can bridge the gap in our relationship between both God and man, if we believe in him.

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