Tolerance is a funny thing. It can be defined as the ability or willingness to tolerate…in particular to the existence of opinions or behaviors that one doesn’t agree with. Sounds like to me, it’s like having free speech and being able to believe in something and discuss it with others, even if they don’t agree with your thoughts. Wouldn’t that be tolerance?
I think recent events are showing us that our culture is no longer tolerant, and if we proclaim tolerance, what we are really proclaiming is intolerance.
Phil Robertson (Duck Dynasty) being suspended by A&E for his comments about homosexuality during an interview, Louie Giglio pressured to step down from the Presidential Inauguration because of a sermon he preached about homosexuality in the past, & Chris Broussard who was under fire after an interview where he stated that he personally believes that anyone who is living in unrepentant sin is walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ.
These are just a few examples of what is happening now in our culture. All three of these men proclaimed what the Bible teaches. Sure they have personal opinions and personalities to go along with it, but at the end of the day they weren’t rewriting Scripture, they were just sharing what the Bible already says.
The response from our culture is actually showing us an intolerance. Meaning these men aren’t allowed to share their beliefs (or what the Bible says) because “they have no right to say what’s wrong and what’s right.” The problem with this “new tolerance” that our culture is trying to proclaim is that it’s not even tolerance at all and doesn’t even make sense.
Let me explain with an example of someone robbing a bank.
Let’s say you just got caught in this act. Old tolerance would have people sharing their different opinions on this, but at the end of the day would agree that you were robbing a bank, it was illegal, and you should be brought to justice. Reason being it’s against the law and you were obviously robbing a bank. New tolerance wouldn’t agree with this. You (the robber) could just state “that’s not how I perceive it,” or a witness could state “I think he was just having a hard day, nothing more,” or the bank manager could state “I believe he was just trying to help others.” And if we were to go along with this new tolerance, then that means everyone in this example was right.
Do you see how this starts to get ridiculous? Someone obviously robbed the bank, it’s a fact. Someone broke the law, it’s true. Someone needs to be brought to justice.
D.A. Carson compares these two types of tolerance really well. He says old tolerance teaches that the truth is out there somewhere. Basically that 2+2=4. He also says that new tolerance teaches that everyone is right because that’s how they perceive it. Basically 2+2=Anything. He states that with this thought, everyone can have their own perspective on something and no one can say it’s right or wrong.
There’s No Need To Be Surprised
All of this really shouldn’t be a shocker to us. We may not like what’s going on here, but the world is full of sin and as it continues to grow and continues to sin, things will get worse. We all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
I think we tend to forget this and act surprised when things like this happen. Let’s not forget that Jesus Himself was persecuted (John 15:18-25) and brought all the way to the point of death on the cross. If culture played the role of being intolerant to Jesus, why would we be surprised when culture is intolerant today?
Be Bold But Be Wise
Does that mean we should just stay quiet then? Does that mean we don’t speak about the Bible and what we believe? Of course not. We absolutely should still talk about the Bible with others and what we believe. Whether it’s homosexuality or any other sin (that we’re all guilty of at one point or another), we should repent of them if we’re followers of Christ (because the Bible says so) and share the love of Christ to others that don’t yet know Him.
The worst thing we could do is be unwise when these moments happen.
When followers of Christ engage in meaningless arguments or even begin to trash others, what do you think that does? Does that glorify God?
Is the Church loving others when people who proclaim the Gospel also proclaim condemnation of others? Do you think that is sharing the love of Christ with others? Did Jesus act that way?
For followers of Christ, we can’t continue to give people a bad taste of Christianity. We need to have unity within the Church, being of the same mind (1 Peter 3:8). That means loving others regardless of their sin. Yes, it does mean telling them that sin is wrong and they need to turn from their ways, but let’s not forget it means telling them even more about Jesus who has come to save. It means to let them know that salvation is available for all people. It means to show them your life as you strive to be more like Christ each and every day.
For those of you who do not follow Christ, I think it would be unfair for you to write off Christianity just like that. If Jesus really did come, live, die, and rise again (which He did), don’t you think that it’s at least worth it to check this out? Maybe it would be worth your time to read the Bible…for yourself. You may think that the Church or followers of Christ are hypocrites…well…we’re sinful. It’s true. None of us are able to live life perfectly (which is why we needed Christ in the first place). We’re going to say the wrong things, make mistakes in how we treat others, fall into all sorts of sin, and maybe even cast condemnation on people every now and then. The difference is, we’re aware of our sin and how we will always fall short, which is why we need our Savior. We are trying as a Church to become more like Christ and sin less, but we will still make mistakes. Have you ever made a mistake?
Sexual sin, idolatry, pride, selfishness, drunkenness, greed, wrongdoers, etc. are all sin and are wrong. Not because we think that or we perceive it to be that way, but because the Bible says they are sin (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). That means it’s a fact because the Bible is truth. As followers of Christ, let’s all be reminded that we still fall short every day and not only does everyone around us need the Gospel…but we still need it too.
Let’s continue to be bold in our “tolerant” culture and join others like Phil, Louie, & Chris as we teach what the Bible has to say and continue to share the Gospel. Let’s lean on the Word of God to do the talking for us since it is absolute truth. This Gospel message is worthy of our best and too good not to share.