Tolerance

Recently I submitted an article for a soon-to-be-released book on the issue of Morals and American Culture. In this article I wrote:

Aristotle said, “Tolerance and apathy are the last virtues of a dying society,” yet it seems that these two precisely describe modern day America. We have come to a place where no one wants to buy into absolute truths, yet we still expect that America can hold on to her freedoms and privileges without question. If we no longer hold to any self-evident truths, then we have no grounds on which our nation can stand.

If the moral standard for America is to take all you can before it is taken from you, then we do not believe “that all men are created equal” nor do all men share in the rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” What we essentially believe is that I have the right to do whatever I want even at the expense of everyone else around. And then when I feel that my self-given rights are violated I loudly declare intolerance.

A couple of weeks ago I was hanging out with some new friends talking about going to a local fair. One mentioned the fact that she wanted to bring another friend but that he was gay, and wanted to know if I would be okay with that. My response was that I would be fine hanging around with him, but would he be okay hanging around with me. My reasoning was that if he is gay, and that is how he defines himself as a person, then I should expect him to act in such a way to display this identity. In the same way, if I define myself as a Christian and a minister, then he should also expect me to act in such a way as to display my own identity. In other words, if he is going to want me to be okay when he points out how hott some other guy is, then I should also expect him to be fine with me talking about how amazing my God is.

Even as you read these words, I suspect that you see the improbability in this happening. What I find in scripture is that people are consumed by sin. That is what identifies everyone. The version of tolerance you will hear preached on every avenue in American culture is aimed at tolerance of sin. I am not talking about equality of race or gender here, because we as Americans hold that it is evident that everyone is created equal in the eyes of God. I am talking about the type of tolerance for any belief system that embraces that there are not universal morals and will accept any action as acceptable. Meaning, I should be okay with him being gay, because it doesn’t infringe on my Christianity, but I must hold back my beliefs because they are opposed to his own lifestyle.

If sin is what defines the human race, then I could easily go on a rant here about existentialism and how what you justify for yourself to do as acceptable you therefore justify for all men to do, but I think what describes what I am talking about better than that is found in Romans 1:32. This passage is talking about people who have heard the truth of God but refuse to turn to Him. It says, “They know God’s justice… yet they continue to sin anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do so, too.”

Here is the reality for us as Christians. We cannot try to enter this culture of tolerance and expect to have our gospel accepted and embraced. It will embrace any form of sinful nature because it does not bring the guild and shame on them that the gospel does, but they will continue to refuse to hear the truth of scripture. Jesus told the disciples that the servant is no better than his master so if they hated Jesus, they will hate us too. Well, in the end, they hated Jesus. In fact, all but one of the disciples ended up murdered too. If you are faithful, don’t expect a warm welcome by the lost because your life is convicting to them.

All of that said, what we must do is to strive to be faithful to the work which God has called us to, realizing that things aren’t always going to go well for us. I want to urge you guys this week to remain unwavering in your faith, even when the world hates you for it.