It wasn’t too long ago that tolerance was one of the biggest buzzwords our culture had. “You don’t have to agree with all lifestyles, but we should be tolerant of all people.” “Don’t hate, tolerate.” “Your intolerance is showing.”
Then “Don’t ask, don’t tell” was repealed. Then the Obergefell decision came down, legalizing gay marriage (despite numerous states – even California – having voted for the opposite). Then the White House, the Empire State Building, and other landmarks were lit in rainbow colors. Pride Month received almost universal corporate support. Government schools shifted heavily in favor of LGBT support. The kinds of debates we were having just 7-8 years ago don’t even exist anymore.
And, all of a sudden, nobody is talking about tolerance anymore.
No, now any public figure who voices a dissenting opinion to the LGBT madness is labeled a bigot. Average people like you and me have been bullied into silence socially because of how heavily the tides have turned. None of the preachers of tolerance actually believed in tolerance, or they would be tolerating us.
Their values haven’t changed, though. As sci-fi author Frank Herbert wrote, “When I am weaker than you, I ask you for Freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your Freedom because that is according to my principles.”
When they quoted “Do not judge lest ye be judged” (Matthew 7:1) at us, it was not a good faith argument. They were using God’s authority out of context as a weapon, despite the fact they had no interest in submitting to His authority. They twisted the Biblical commands to love our neighbor to create a false choice between either agreeing with people or being unloving to them. They pointed to a nebulous idea of a “niceness” expected of Christians, saying that Christianity means “not being a jerk.”
To tolerate that which God has ruled intolerable is to undermine God’s authority. This is why God has labeled friendship with the world as enmity toward Himself (James 4:4). You can’t accept the terms of people who hate God and despise His precepts and still maintain a close relationship with Him.
To tolerate that which God has ruled intolerable is also to recast God in our image. The clear, time-honored interpretations of basic Scriptural teaching is against homosexuality. The world tells us this is unloving and hurtful. If you believe them, you either claim that God is unloving and hurtful (as many have), or you find a way to re-interpret the Scriptures so as to make Him into the tolerant God the world wants Him to be. This is idolatry, creating a false god who we find more palatable.
The end result is unsurprising. Predictably, Christians who fell for this tolerance trick play ended up becoming more tolerant toward the world and its sins, yet less tolerant toward their fellow Christians – the very people they were actually told to tolerate (Ephesians 4:2). The world will keep running that trick play to divide and conquer the church unless we get an understanding of what we should and should not tolerate.
This is why we must be so diligent as students of the Word. As soon as we start listening to cultural pressure and capitulating to what sounds good and what makes sense to us, we start betraying Scriptural authority. Scriptural authority is the only grounds upon which we can have unity, though. When we choose to capitulate to pressure to be friendly toward the world and unfriendly toward our fellow Christians, we set a course for disunity and ultimately apostasy.
Tread carefully. Submit to God and not the world.