Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Limits of Tolerance

In many respects, Tolerance (with a capital 'T') has become the single cardinal virtue of American culture. Or at least the virtue that the talking heads directing our public discourse value most, with Diversity perhaps coming in a close second.

We must tolerate homosexuals, Muslims, illegal immigrants, and a host of others in our diverse, multicultural society.

I hardly ever hear anyone praising the twin virtue of Intolerance.

Isn't Intolerance a virtue also, depending on the circumstances? If someone were to attempt a break-in of my home with my wife and children present, my tolerance of such an act would be cowardice. This example is obvious.

What if, though, I took in an orphaned teenager who had been raised in a delinquent lifestyle? If his actions in my home included setting his own curfew, refusing to clean up after himself, and otherwise disrupting the peace of the household, should there be limits to my tolerance? Most would agree limits are appropriate in this case, as well.

How about in a free society? Are there behaviors worthy not of tolerance, but of intolerance? If so, what are they?

First, I think, we must distinguish between intolerance and hatred. Jesus said we must love our enemies. He even gave examples of the types of behavior this involved: feeding them when they are hungry and giving them water when thirsty. Notice, though, that he presupposes that we will have enemies. According to Webster's, an enemy is "one that is antagonistic to another; especially : one seeking to injure, overthrow, or confound an opponent."

So, according to the Lord, when we encounter someone antagonistic to us--one who seeks to injure or overthrow us--we must love him and minister to his needs. The starkest example we have of this is the duty of an army to care for the enemy's wounded left on the battlefield. After opposing them with violence--even attempting to kill them--we then nurse them back to health in our own hospitals.

I.e., we love them, but we do not tolerate them, and there is no contradiction.

We must learn to make these same distinctions in America. Because of the diversity of our society, we must always remember to love those who are different than us. We do not, though, have any biblical duty to tolerate all behaviors. In fact, we are told in the Bible to "test everything, and hold fast to what is true" and that we are armed such that the "weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God." God's people are to be warriors, and are not to sit idly by while our enemies infiltrate our territory.

Homosexuality, for example, is one particular form of behavior that should never be tolerated. Homosexuality is clearly portrayed in Romans 1 as the just desserts of the perverse man. He who does not give glory to God is given over more and more to his own sins, until finally "likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due." When repentance still lags, God will then:

(Give them) over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

Notice the end of the passage, in which those who "approve of" (tolerate) these behaviors become guilty with the perpetrators.

While this argument is directed at God's people in the Church, it is extensible to our interaction with society at large. If Jesus Himself finds no contradiction between loving someone whom we do not tolerate, we can rest assured that we are on safe ground in following Him.

As we seek to define the limits of tolerance in a free society, we would do well to remember that the liberties we enjoy in America rest on the foundation of the Christian religion that has been in steady retreat for over 100 years. Our second president, John Adams, once stated, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

Do we find liberal (free) governments in the lands of Islam? What about in pagan Africa? Are these historical accidents, or is there something in the Muslim religion or in African culture that militates against the formation of liberal democracies? I ask rhetorically.

So while the public clamors over the alleged Muslim faith of our current president, or the building of a mosque near Ground Zero, there remains an inability to articulate our opposition to these things. After all, doesn't the Constitution forbid a "religious test" for taking office? Don't we welcome mosques in America; just not there due to the insensitivity of the whole thing?

We have become so indoctrinated by the priests of the new god and their doctrines of tolerance and diversity, that we do not even realize that our land is being invaded and attacked by those whose religion does not value tolerance and recognizes no doctrine of loving the enemy. Do we really think that Perez Hilton and his ilk would practice tolerance if he could muster enough like-minded individuals to take over the reigns of government? Hardly. If the expansionist religionists of Islam ever succeed in forming a majority in America, what would the resulting government look like? (hint: look in Iran, Iraq, Syria, or Pakistan)

We must not be lulled into believing that we must tolerate these attacks on the culture and land that we love. We must love the people who practice them, but we need not--and indeed, should not--tolerate the odious doctrines they preach. There are groups demanding tolerance today that are antagonistic towards us and seek to injure, overthrow, or confound their opponent (i.e., us). They use our tolerance against us and do not intend to return the favor.

We would do well to start thinking how we should instantiate in law appropriate limits to their ability to revolutionize the society we cherish. I might invite a rebellious, orphaned teenager into my home that I might care for his needs and show him the love of Christ, but I would not give him a vote in the family meeting; at least not until his behavior had been transformed and become part of the common culture of the family. Citizenship and the suffrage would likewise be a good place to start as we define what it means to be an American. Receipt of public benefits would be another. The alien may live peacefully among us and be free from persecution, but he may not vote in our elections or live off of our taxes, for the doctrines he preaches are inconsistent with the moral and religious order we inherited. The Constitution is not a suicide pact, and we need to be ready to amend it, where necessary, to keep it from becoming such.

"Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions." -- G.K. Chesterton


"Mr. Dad" said...

Please note homosexual agenda creeping into our marketplace ("Home Depot") @

Post a Comment