Tolerant Or Intolerant
The message of tolerance and intolerance has seriously permeated our society over the last fifteen years. In the minds of many, the attitude of intolerance is at a dangerous level. They fear opposition to their ideals of life and behavior will result in “hate crimes,” loss of job, unjust criticism, and abuse. They view intolerance as potential harassment in the workplace or prejudice toward diversity. Are these the real dangers we face because of being tolerant of beliefs and a way of life not approved by God?
The real danger is prejudice to truth. Has truth not been redefined? Is it not considered to be subjective rather than objective? What are honest hearts? The Bereans objectively viewed truth (Acts 17:11) with an attitude that what is right is more important than who said it. People need to open their hearts - not close their minds - to the simple ways of God’s will. Unless we do, we cannot perceive what is spiritual (1 Corinthians 2:13-15).
Another real danger is compromise. Some believe the best principle of “getting along with others” is to “agree to disagree.” Why should we let those differences hinder our fellowship? We are encouraged to let the “positive message” help us accept who we are. Will these feelings bring about a church that is the “pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15)? Of course not. The more we tolerate worldliness, modernism, institutionalism, Calvinism, etc., the church will soon turn into a community center. It is our responsibility to cast down “imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every though into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Tolerance presents another danger: indifference. People sit in a school committee meeting, a pew in a church building, or an indecent movie and know they are listening to or watching something wrong. As we sit there, we think, “This will not affect me.” “The decisions made in this meeting will not impact me.” “The message I am hearing does not apply to me.” The point is, it just did. It affected you to the point you failed to act. People have slowly grown cold toward ungodly behavior. Where is our faith and boldness? Are we ready to defend the faith or not (1 Peter 3:15; 1 John 5:4)? Do we not care anymore?
Consider the danger tolerance has toward filtering out morality. Everybody is being made to feel good about themselves no matter what they do. It is suggested that we need to enjoy a positive self-image, free of restrictions and immune from criticism. Our present culture and the next generation are getting so mixed up about morality, ethics are getting turned upon their heads. Many sexual practices condemned in nearly every culture on the face of the earth are considered moral, while opposing these practices are immoral, down-right criminal. When people start filtering out morality, it means we have begun the process of prohibiting the only thing left to prohibit - truth itself.
The danger of tolerance may be best described in the story of a man who was proud of his lawn until one year, a heavy crop of dandelions appeared. He tried everything possible to get rid of them, without success. He wrote a school of agriculture, giving them a list of remedies he had tried to eliminate the dandelions. He ended his letter with the appeal: “What shall I do now?” In due time, he received their reply, “We suggest that you learn to love them!”
God is the greatest at love. God defines love (John 3:16; 1 John 4:7-11). However, notice what Romans 1:22 says: “Behold then the goodness and severity of God: toward them that fell, severity; but toward thee, God’s goodness, if thou continue in His goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.”
The above statement about God made to the church in Roma about 56 A.D. is a reminder of the God who controls and rules today. Culture may change, but it does not change God. Legislation may alter His moral guidelines, but God remains the same. Current theological philosophies may adopt new policies, but none of them have made God repent of His ways. A review of the following passages will make it clear where God stands on current issues that seem questionable in the mind of man today.
“These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: a proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren.” (Proverbs 6:16-19, NKJV)
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, NKJV)
“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21, NKJV)
“Likewise, also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.” (Romans 1:27-32, NKJV)
If what we are tolerating is something God hates and condemns, then it is we who are intolerant of God’s established rules and regulations for life. We must enact in our lives the same policy God has on all of the above - “zero tolerance!” We cannot be intolerant of God’s law and expect to be acquitted (Galatians 1:6-9).