Right Thinking About Tolerance

August 7, 2014

Right Thinking About Tolerance

            We are being told that tolerance is a virtue when, in some cases, it can be a folly.  Someone once wrote, “I dreamt that somehow I had come to dwell in Topsy Turvydom, where vice is virtue, virtue vice.  Where nice is nasty, nasty nice.” It appears as though many in our day are dwelling in Topsy Turvydom, but they aren’t aware of it.  They have bought into the thinking that we are being intolerant if we disapprove of the moral values of others.

For the sake of clarity, and to avoid any misunderstanding, let me say that there is a place for tolerance.  Many people are hurt by intolerance.  There is no justification for being intolerant of people because of race, color, language, or income level.  No doubt more things could be added to that list.  Pride makes people think they are better than others.  There are times when tolerance is a virtue, and there times when it is a moral defect.

Prageruniversity.com offers five minute lectures on the Internet on various themes.  A recent lecture talked about the most important thing in life.  It dealt with values.  I might not rate values as the most important thing in life, but it would be near the top of the list.  We are in serious trouble when we ignore or reject the fact that there are absolute moral values.  It leaves us adrift on a sea of uncertainty.  Virtues add to our quality of life and increase our satisfaction.  Vices, on the other hand, pull us down, defeat us, and leave us in shame and disgrace.

If someone says “Pornography is a good thing…….to stay away from,” is he being intolerant?  Yes he is, but could it not be because he is aware of the danger done by pornography and wants to warn others of the danger?

This notion that intolerance is wrong is a boon to the businesses that profit from pornography, prostitution, illegal drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.  They aren’t at all bothered by the human suffering that results from their business.  Those who warn others about the dangers of those things are compassionate.  They are concerned about the wellbeing and future happiness of others.  The opposite is a hard hearted indifference.

When people depart from biblical Christianity they also depart from biblical moral standards.  God’s way is better.  Hosea 14:9 says, “The ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.”  Being a Christian is more than just living by biblical moral standards, but that is included.  Jesus said, in John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”

Obedient Christians respect and live by the moral precepts they find in the Bible.  They have learned to put off the works of the flesh listed in Galatians 5:19-21. “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,  Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,  Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” They have also put on the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-24.  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.    And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”

Obedient Christians aren’t losers by doing this.  They are among the blessed we read about in Psalm one.  “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.    But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.    And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.    The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.    Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.    For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.”

Obedient Christians aren’t chained by the lusts of the flesh.  They aren’t caught up in addictions.  They too suffer afflictions like everyone else.  In John 16:33 Jesus said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”  Obedient Christians don’t suffer from tribulations they have brought upon themselves by making foolish decisions.  They aren’t perfect.  They too make mistakes, or let’s just say they sin, but most often they aren’t the sins that bring about defeat and ruin.

In Ezequiel 3:18 God charges us with the obligation of warning the wicked of what will be the end result of his way.  “When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.”  If we obey God in this regard, we may be accused of being intolerant.  I’m sorry, but if we love people, we can’t help but warn them of the sad end of those who live an immoral life style.  If parents love their children, they will plead with them to depart from the influence of the bad crowd.  There are many broken hearted parents today because they thought they were showing love to their children by letting them make their own moral choices.

Every time a policeman arrests someone and brings him to the jail he is being intolerant.  In effect, he is saying to the person arrested, “Our society doesn’t tolerate your behavior.” To be completely tolerant we would need to empty all our prisons.

People today are frequently asked how they feel about a certain moral issue.  If something is wrong, it’s wrong regardless of how we feel about it.  Moral convictions are being replaced by sentiments.  Our sentiments may change from one day to the next.  Moral convictions, on the other hand, are fixed beliefs.  Miriam Webster’s dictionary says that a conviction is “an idea or judgment held as true or valid.’

Don’t be intimidated by those who accuse you of being intolerant when you speak out against immorality.  Wickedness increases when good people say nothing against it.  Amos 5:10 says, “They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly.”

Let’s be reasonable about tolerance and intolerance.  Don’t join the crowd that says that the only thing we can be intolerant about is intolerance.  Tolerate when you should, but don’t go to the extreme of tolerating anything and everything.  There is still right and wrong.  There is still vice and virtue.

Our e-mail address is rusandmargaretgeorge@windstream.net

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