This is a tough subject to tackle, but it has been weighing heavy on my heart recently and I sense the Lord wants me to express some thoughts in this area of Truth vs. Tolerance. (There are others who I feel have expressed this far better than I can, whom I have a link to their articles below.)
So here goes. It seems that today tolerance is becoming the new world religion. The Dictionary’s definition of tolerance is “a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions, beliefs, and practices that differ from one’s own.” Tolerance, in general, is a good principle to follow, and I believe as a Christian, I am to be understanding of others opinions, beliefs, and practices. But what happens when “tolerance” requires me to agree and have a permissive attitude toward something that is in direct opposition to the truth? Am I to agree because I am fearful of being considered narrow-minded and intolerant? Or agree because if I don’t I will be forced to go along with something that I know is wrong? There’s nothing wrong with the non-judgmental acceptance of all perspectives. What’s wrong depends on what one is being tolerant about.
Douglas Groothuis states it well in saying, “Without a thorough and deeply rooted understanding of the biblical view of truth … the Christian response to postmodernism [a worldview that often denies or distorts the reality of truth] will be muted by the surrounding culture or will make illicit compromises with the truth-impoverished spirit of the age.”
I feel in some areas, today’s tolerance is as if I am standing near the edge of a cliff watching thousands walk by and plunge off the edge to their demise. They are doing it because it’s what everyone else is doing and believes is right. Wouldn’t you want to stop someone from stepping off the precipice into certain death? That’s how I feel when I see someone bending God’s truth to make it more palatable to the masses. When tolerance becomes compromise to stay relevant with the culture, will I go with the flow or stand on God’s truth?
“You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
As a Christian, I believe God’s Word is the truth. The Truth is facts that line up with reality. His Word unites with reality and has been proven over and over for centuries to be true. I have also seen God’s truth prove itself in my life and many others. Living a life riddled with lies kept me in bondage for years. Once I began to understand and embrace God’s truth, I was set free from myself. From the deception and twisted “tolerant” view, the world had ingrained in me. I had to stop “tolerating” things that were not true and were destroying me.
There is also a big difference between tolerance and love. Not tolerating something someone believes in or engages in does not mean you do not love them. It’s like allowing your child to engage in a dangerous activity, like playing with fire because if you don’t you are not “tolerant.” But you would not love the person if you did not warn them or stop them from harming themselves.
Jesus was loving, kind, and accepting, but he was not tolerant when it came to the truth. He told the woman caught in adultery that He was not judging her, but for her to “go and sin no more.” He knew the sordid truth about the Samaritan woman he met at the well. He was not judgmental, but instead offered her life giving truth. He was not tolerant of those who were using the temple for financial gain, or of those who took advantage of the poor. Jesus was not afraid to tell others they were wrong. However, He always countered with His life-giving truth, wanting to see them set free in it. This to me is pure, unconditional love. One that knows that to leave me in a state of lies and destruction is not love. To tolerate the moral decay of one’s soul is not love.
So I will continue, by God’s grace, to stand for His truth over compromising for the sake of tolerance. I will continue to love and encourage others to come into a place of God’s freeing truth, even if it means I am not always “culturally relevant.” When truth collides with tolerance, I feel unconditional, loving truth should trump tolerance every time.
For His Glory,
Links to other articles on this subject: