Tolerance is an important buzz-word in American culture. We are taught, encouraged and cajoled into being tolerant of every odd idea that appears. There is no greater complement among some than to be thought a tolerant person. Tolerance has become the holy grail of our godless society.
The idea of “live and let live” has been corrupted into a an unholy mantra which demands acceptance and even support of immorality and unrighteousness. We must be tolerant of those who choose to take the lives of unborn children; we must tolerate and support the alternate lifestyles of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender groups; we must happily accept the those who practice serial marriages and even those who engage in open cheating on their spouses. In some quarters, voices were raised to tell us we must understand the anger of those who attacked innocents on 9/11.
As with so many discussions, proponents of various kinds of sin gently and quietly change the meanings of the words they use. Tolerance is an excellent example. The meaning of tolerance has shifted. To many, it now means “acceptance.” Trends within our own locale suggest that soon tolerance will mean “support.”
An example will help. If my neighbor practices witchcraft I will not burn his house down. I will not attack him as he works in his yard. I will not stand on the property line and shout insults at him. I will tolerate his presence. However I will never encourage him in his sin. When confronted by his own comments and practices I will oppose him. I will teach my children against his ways and will give air to my thoughts freely. It’s not an acceptable lifestyle. While I may tolerate it I will not accept or support it.
Tolerance has gone too far.
I need to pause for a moment and make something clear. I do not advocate, nor have I ever, assaults upon anyone who practices unrighteousness. I have both spoken and written about the sin of hatred. That is wrong. Nevertheless, I must not stand by sheepishly while every sin is cast into the Christian’s face while a chorus of the wicked tells us we must not complain. I am told that I must be tolerant of their views while they remain intolerant of mine.
Would Jesus tolerate sin?
Jesus was not tolerant of those who perverted the sanctity of the Temple grounds and sought to profit God’s worship. (Matthew 21:12; John 2:14-15). Other wickedness was not dealt with physically but this assault upon the dwelling place of the Father was too much.
Jesus was not tolerant of ignorant religious leadership. He rebuked Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, because he did not understand basic teachings about the Christ (John 3:1-15). He was hard, even harsh, on the Pharisees and scribes who were leading Israel astray (Matthew 23).
Jesus was not tolerant of sexual immorality. When was woman was used to try and trap Jesus into a clash between his ways and the Law of Moses he did not tolerate or accept her sin. He told her to “go and sin no more” (John 8:1-11).
Jesus’ inspired apostles were likewise solidly in opposition to sin. Peter was neither tolerant nor understanding of those who watched as Jesus was crucified. He spoke plainly and demanded their repentance (Acts 2:36-38). Paul was not silent concerning homosexuality. He uses some of his strongest language anywhere to condemn that immoral lifestyle (Romans 1:18-32).
We are blessed to live in a place where free speech still reigns. Despite ongoing attempts to label opposition to some sins as “hate speech,” and thus make it illegal, the pulpit remains free as are those who serve the risen King. Let us raise our voice loudly and push back against those who serve the god of their own lusts. Stand for what is right. Speak a word loudly for the Lord!