“I have never experienced such hatred as was directed towards me and others as I did” at a conference in California. This was the report of a friend of mine to me while we were sitting having coffee together. The incident he was talking of happened in 2017 when he was a part of the worship team at a Restored Hope Conference, entitled Hope 2017. Restored Hope is a ministry dedicated to restoring hope to those broken by sexual and relational sins, especially those impacted by homosexuality. The protesters were out in force requiring extra police being called out in force to control them. All because this ministry was bringing a Biblical message to the question of homosexuality, A message that the protestors would not tolerate. So much for tolerance. So lets look at the question of tolerance.
WHAT IS IT?
Words and the way we use them change over time. Let us start with the traditional definition of tolerance. Tolerance is ‘the ability to tolerate something in particular, the existence of opinions or behavior that one does on necessarily agree with. It involves the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs and practices of others.’ The key word is ‘respecting.’ In recent times, this has come to the forefront in issues, particularly but not exclusively related to ‘sexuality’ in one way or another. So the gay organizations have exerted pressure in all sorts of ways and have been unwilling to tolerate a biblical view of sexuality. Today, however, tolerance is often taken to mean acceptance and even endorsement of other people’s practices. Let us look at a few examples.
JACK PHILLIPS MASTERPIECE CAKE SHOP
Jack Phillips, of Masterpiece Cake Shop, was castigated and taken to court because he declined to make wedding cakes for gay weddings, etc. The Supreme Court on a 7:2 ruling ruled in favor of Jack Phillips having the right to run his business in accordance with his religious beliefs. But even after the Supreme Court verdict, there were still people fighting against his religious freedom. So much for tolerance.
FRANKLIN GRAHAM AND FACEBOOK
Franklin Graham wrote in the BGEA Newsletter about the intolerance he faced with Facebook. “Who has the authority to define truth? The voices of secularism-including the media and much of the educational establishment-certainly claim that authority. And if you disagree with their views, especially on sexual orientation or gender identity, they look for ways to silence you. I experienced that two months ago when Facebook blocked me from posting for a 24-hour period because of something I said on the site back in 2016. I had expressed support for a North Carolina law to prevent men from being able to use women’s restrooms and locker rooms and added that “bowing at the feet of godless secularism and political correctness is not progress.” Facebook said that went against their “community standards on hate speech.” The Facebook ban made news across America, and they reconsidered and apologized. I gladly accepted their apology. But the incident illustrates how common it has become in our Western culture to substitute godless standards for God’s truth, and then to silence those who disagree. The label “hate speech” has become a popular weapon used to attack anyone who speaks out based on what God says about moral issues. So much for free speech.” So much for tolerance!
Chick-fil-A has grown to be one of the top fast food chains in America. It has however evoked the wrath of gay advocates because it seems at one time it supported traditional marriage and also the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. They have recently been banned from the food courts in the airports of San Antonia, Texas and Buffalo, New York. Lee Grady of Charisma Magazine wrote about how The New Yorker magazine published an astonishingly prejudiced assault on Chick-fil-A by writer Dan Piepenbring. As Lee Grady goes on to say, “But in America in 2018, it’s okay to skewer Christians for their religious views. Cultural elitists feel they can justifiably trample on our religious and first-amendment rights. In the name of ‘tolerance,’ they wage a campaign of intolerance.” So much for tolerance.
COLLEGES AND SEMINARIES
It is now happening in universities and seminaries. John Stonestreet records, “A more subtle, yet still insidious example was what happened to Tim Keller, the founder of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. Earlier this year, Princeton Theological Seminary named Keller the winner of the 2017 Kuyper Award for Excellence in Reformed Theology. And then, all heck broke loose. People complained that, as a pastor in the more conservative Presbyterian Church in America, Keller didn’t hew to mainstream Presbyterian orthodoxy on subjects such as women’s ordination and, especially, LGBT issues.
In a textbook example of Orwellian double-speak, the school’s dean issued a statement that withdrew Keller’s award, while insisting that, “We are a community that does not silence voices in the church.” Now technically that’s true: Keller will still speak, but as the statement makes clear, he won’t be speaking about anything that might distress his audience.” So much for tolerance!
Interestingly, Alan Dershowitz, Harvard Law Professor Emeritus, who is a Democrat with liberal views, when asked, ‘What worries you most and keeps you up at night?’ answered, “The current situation on university campuses in which voices of moderation are drowned out by censorial extremists. A significant number of university students today do not believe in the open marketplace of ideas and would censor speech that offends them or others. These are our future leaders and some of them will maintain those tyrannical views. Hopefully, most will not.”
BELIEVERS AND TOLERANCE
How should believers respond to these terms of intolerance towards a Biblical world view? Let us consider some points suggesting responses.
- True tolerance involves respect for people and we should respond in the opposite spirit. i.e. in love. We should do what Jesus said to do, “And just as you want men to do to you, do also to them likewise.” (Luke 6:30) Supreme Court Justice Kennedy stated, “Tolerance is most meaningful when it is mutual.”
- Recognize there is a difference between tolerance and acceptance. Tolerating someone’s point of view does not mean you have to accept it. You can respect people whilst still rejecting their ideas.
- Hold fast to what you believe the Bible teaches even if others don’t accept your position. Bible teacher David Jeremiah writes, “In an age of tolerance and compromise the idea that there is only one way to do something is roundly rejected. ‘One way’ is considered narrow-minded, intolerant, inconsiderate and even disrespectful.” But we are to hold fast to what the Bible teaches in their case that Jesus is the only way. (John 14:6)”
- Recognize that there are limits when it comes to the church. Some practices cannot be accepted and that also applies to central points of doctrine. The church has always been faced with the matter of false teachings concerning essential Bible doctrines, and following the N.T. example, those false teachers cannot be endorsed.
- Pray for those who see things differently to us and who reject the absolute truth of the Word of God. Jesus made it clear that we are to “love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” (Matthew 6:44)
- Believers are called to show love and compassion to all people even as at the same time they would proclaim the truth of God’s word.
Once again, I look forward to peoples responses to the subject of tolerance. You may not agree with me on everything, but try to be tolerant of my viewpoint when you reply. In the next Langstaff Letter, I will share with you the key to healthy tolerance in a story about Chick-fil-A.