Monday, March 19, 2012

Tolerance and the Christian

Tolerance is the ‘in word’ of our culture; everyone says that they think tolerance is a sign of an educated mind.  In the process the very definition of the word ‘tolerance is being redefined to mean that all views are equally valid and all lifestyles are equally appropriate.  If you were (as I do) to take a stand against same sex marriages,  divorce, open-marriages,  or any number of other  ‘lifestyles’  you would no doubt be accused of being intolerant.  The problem for those who take the view point of being tolerant is where do you draw the line, and if and when you do are you then not being intolerant?  But I will come back to that point later.   Let me begin with the fact that Jesus proclaimed the truth that He is the only way.  As such any person (Christian) is vilified as the epitome of intolerance.   Which leaves each and every individual Christian one of two choices, either capitulate to culture, or become equipped to expose the flaws of today’s tolerance, while simultaneously exemplifying “TRUE” tolerance.

Tolerance??  To begin with, to say that all views are equally valid sounds tolerant but in reality is a contradiction in terms.  If in fact all views are equally valid, then the Christian view must be valid.  The Christian view, however, holds that not all views are equally valid.  Thus the ongoing redefinition of tolerance in our culture is a self-refuting proposition.   Equally important, we do not tolerate people with whom we disagree, we tolerate people with whom we disagree.  If all views were in fact equally valid there would be no need for tolerance.

Perhaps more troubling is that today’s redefinition of tolerance leaves no room for objective moral judgments.  This means that the terrorist who flew the planes into the world trade center could be deemed as virtuous as Mother Teresa.  Without an enduring reference point, societal norms are being reduced to mere matters of preference.  As such, the moral basis for resolving international disputes (we will get to the personal ones) and condemning such intuitively evil practices as genocide, oppression of women, and child prostitution is being seriously compromised.

On the individual level, it is a very slippery slope once you have embraced todays’ definition of tolerance.  Once you sign off on it, you can not draw a line and stand for anything without being a hypocrite, divorce and remarriage is okay, but not same sex marriage, adultery and fornication – no problem, then what of the adult having relations with a child or marry the same child.  As Alexander Hamilton said “Those who stand for nothing will fall for anything”

Any reasonable individual thus realizes that the philosophically fatal flaws to our cultures view of tolerance. As such, any Christian must then reject today’s tolerance and revive TRUE tolerance. True tolerance entails that, despite our differences, we will treat every person we meet with dignity and respect due to them as those created in the image of God.  True tolerance does not preclude proclaiming the truth, but it does mandate that we do so with gentleness and with respect.  In a world that is increasingly intolerant of Christianity, Christians must exemplify tolerance without sacrificing truth.  In fact, tolerance when it comes to personal relationships is a virtue; but tolerance when it comes to the truth is a travesty.

“Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear – hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh”   
Jude 1:22-23

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