The INTOLERANCE of Tolerance
I saw a cartoon on Facebook last month that showed a man looking at a sign at the entrance of a new community. It said, “WARNING … This is an INCLUSIVE society and if we feel you are talking, thinking or behaving in a NON-INCLUSIVE way – you will be EXCLUDED.” Funny, but not so much. It summarizes the position of some in our country today.
Our society has promoted a one-way tolerance for many years now. Today, we see the fruition of that. You should tolerate us, but we won’t tolerate you if your beliefs differ from ours. We’ll accuse you of intolerance, and intolerance is the only “sin” left in our culture today.
Good For ME, But Not For THEE
DEFINITIONS – Normal definitions (for centuries) have been replaced today and are often used to SILENCE free-speech and produce division in our society. Tolerance (dictionary) was defined as respect for others opinions, beliefs and value systems, even though you disagree with them. Today it means that everyone’s value, belief systems, and lifestyles are equal and should be accepted. Today, it also means if you don’t fully accept my opinion or belief, you “hate” me. The example is the LGBT movement with marriage. Should you not agree with same-sex marriage, you hate us and you’re a bigot. Bigot is defined as a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices. Today that term is often targeted towards others to silence discussion and free-speech. Racism is defined as a belief that racial differences produce superiority of a particular race. It’s another term thrown about in disagreements. The definition of FAMILY since the beginning of time… two parents – man and woman (or single parent) and children of common ancestry. When the Supreme court ushered in same-sex marriage (2015) many argued it would open to the door to any number of options in the future for marriage. Numerous liberals mocked those critics and accused them of scare tactics. Since that time, we have lawsuits demanding polygamy marriage (more than one husband or wife at the same time) and polyamory marriage (multiple spouses – numerous husband and wives). In March of this year, CNN reported of a family (3 gay men) who were named legal parents of two children through an egg donor and two surrogate mothers.
Our modern culture often PARTIALLY quotes the story of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:11) when Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.” They often leave out the rest of that scripture … “Go and sin no more.” Sin (dictionary) is an immoral act considered to be a transgression against a religious or moral law. Grace is free, but it’s not cheap or, as some call it – “greasy” grace. Grace covers the repentant sinner, but it doesn’t change or justify the sin. In other words, if we LIE and confess our sin, we are covered/ justified by grace and receive forgiveness. But grace doesn’t justify or say that LYING is no longer a sin.
CHALLENGE today – It’s apparent that divisions in our society today have reached unprecedented levels. A civil society can agree to disagree. Tolerance, if you will. Without respectful tolerance, SOCIETY become UNCIVIL, or a lawless society of mob rule. A society without a structure of law will soon fail to exist. It surfaces on numerous fronts: in Congress that has basically reached a stalemate for several years, in families that are divided, in churches that are divided on the subject of same-sex marriage, LGBT theology and transgender issues, only two genders, and more recently Anti-Semitism. Disagreement is nothing new in our society, but the divide has reached the point that free-speech is threatened to the point of not just bias, but censorship by much of the press, social media and education. Can you say cancel culture or critical-race theory?
“I Have Learned That Very Often the Most Intolerant and Narrow-Minded People Are the Ones Who Congratulate Themselves on Their Tolerance and Open-Mindness” - Christopher Hitchens.
WHY IS This IMPORTANT today? Intolerance now PUNISHES those who don’t bow their beliefs and convictions to conform to the political correctness of the day. Those deemed intolerant often face RESULTS such as: Loss of employment or demotion, disinformation (not misinformation) and censorship by the news and social media; labelled as haters, bigots, or racist; loss of religious freedom and free speech; law suits brought through the power of government attorneys until you’re bankrupt, etc. Christian organizations (for over a century) that have placed orphans and foster children in homes are now being closed. In brief – a loss of freedom. You may say, it doesn’t impact me. If you, like the overwhelming majority of Americans, believe that marriage is between a man and a woman – you’re now labelled as a bigot, a hater and you’re intolerant.
“TOLERANCE was an American CHRISTIAN contribution to the world. Just as you drop a pebble in the pond, the ripples go out. There was tolerance first for Puritans, then Protestants, then Catholics, then liberal Christians, and then it went out completely to Jews. Then in the early 1900s, tolerance went out to anybody of any faith, monotheist or polytheist. Finally, within the last generation, tolerance went out to the atheist, the secular humanist and the anti-religious. And the last ones in the boat decided it was too crowded and decided to push the first ones out. So now we have a unique situation in America, where everybody's tolerated except the ones that came up with the idea. And when people say Christians are intolerant, we really need to correct them and say, 'No, we're the ones that came up with the idea of tolerance.” (Author and speaker Bill Federer in an interview with Jerry Newcombe)
Tolerance is the Chief Value of our Culture, Unless Our Culture Decides That Someone IS INTOLERANT
HOW can we Respond as followers of Christ?
1 - We can WITHDRAW from culture. How does that equate with Matthew 5:13 -16, when Jesus addressed us as being salt (out of the shaker) or light (not to be kept under a basket)? Should we or can we be SILENT? When Dr. James Dobson was asked why Christians should be involved in the political process, he said, “Politics matters because it sets Policy and Policy impacts FAMILIES.” Put another way, we are not only involved in a spiritual war (Ephesians 6:1- 12)), we’re also in a cultural war. What type of country are we giving to our children and grandchildren?
Politics Matters Because It Sets POLICY and Policy Impacts FAMILIES …. Dr. James Dobson
2 – We can fight intolerance with intolerance, or we can share Biblical Faith with REASON and RESPECT (1 Peter 3:15). Can we explain why we believe and do so with love with those who disagree? It requires obedience and grace. When our discussion generates more heat than light, it’s a good time to back up from a shouting match that never solves anything.
3 – Speak the truth in Love (Ephesians 4:15). Love is an action, not a feeling (1 Corinthians 13:4 -7). Remember that who we are, speaks louder than what we say.
Who We ARE, Speaks Louder Than What We SAY
4 – Only the Holy Spirit can CHANGE an individual. It’s above our pay-grade. We can speak the truth in love (our responsibility), and allow the Holy Sprit to do what only HE can do – change a person, that begins in the HEART, not the head.
What difference does it make? Like Esther, “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14), God ordained that we live at this point in history. How can we pivot and make a difference in our society? I was reading a book last year (Tactics – A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions) that had some interesting methods for sharing our Christian CONVICTIONS. Maybe the next time someone accuses you of being intolerant, you might respond by asking, “What do you mean by that? Everyone thinks their views are correct. So, if my view is correct, does that make me intolerant? Can I ask you a question, because I’m confused, “Why is it that you think when I’m right, I’m intolerant and when you think you’re right – you’re just right and not intolerant? Can you help me understand that?”
An employer who was a lesbian asked one of her employees, a Christian, what she though about homosexuality. “Before I answer your question, may I ask you a question? Is it safe for me to share my views? Are you a TOLERANT person, or an INTOLERANT person? Do you respect people with different views than yours, or do you condemn them?” The employer said in effect, “Certainly I’m tolerant.” The employee then proceeded to share her conviction with respect.
May we look for opportunities to be tolerant with the intolerant individuals in our daily lives… with wisdom and respect.