If you can’t bear to read another word about Donald Sterling, the de-throned owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team, stop reading here…
However, if you can stomach just three more minutes, I would offer a perspective from pastor, pulpit, and pew.
In a conversation earlier this week about the horribly racist comments made by Sterling the question was posed to me: don’t we have freedom of speech anymore?
My answer is an unqualified YES: we still have the gift of free speech. It is a fundamental freedom that from our founding has distinguished us as a people. It has been paid for and is maintained with blood, sweat, and tears. Freedom remains our greatest gift; without it progress is impossible, and dreams cannot come to life.
Yes, by the grace of God we have freedom. But how we use our freedom is a choice. And every choice has consequences. Mr. Sterling has the absolute “right” to express his feelings about African-Americans. His banishment from the NBA is the consequence of having chosen to do so.
The good news in this story is that the reaction to his choice was universal and immediate condemnation. Praise God that the consequences for such an awful choice were swift and severe.
This series of events is virtually Biblical. The Apostle Paul wrote: “For freedom Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1). The freedom trail began in the Genesis Garden when the first two humans choose to use their God-given freedom to try to be like God. The consequences for them were harsh – including banishment from paradise – but they did NOT include losing their freedom.
In the absence of freedom there cannot be authentic, meaningful relationships. God knows this fundamental truth: for love to be genuine it must be a choice – offered willingly and freely. And so God offers us freedom so that love would come to life.
May God bless us with the inspiration to treasure our freedom, the wisdom to use it well, and the courage to choose the way of love.
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