Intolerance From Those Who Demand It.
Society would have us believe that God is a myth. That the Bible is a dusty, outdated book of stories that don’t apply to us today. That a universal truth can’t possibly exist, because every person’s viewpoint and lifestyle is valid and must be accepted.
Many take issue with the bible suggesting that its moral truths apply to everyone. They chafe under the idea that God’s standard, which feels narrow and restrictive, should govern their behavior.
Some are so completely intolerant of the Christian view, that they are committed to removing its influence in America and around the globe. In the name of tolerance, they say, it’s time for Christianity to wither up and die.
How utterly foolish.
If you are a committed Christ-follower, you have likely felt pressured to condone and accept behaviors that you know God doesn’t like. Our youth feel the sting of being labeled “intolerant,” as the full power of peer pressure bears down on them. Why can’t we just embrace all lifestyles, your kids might ask? What makes God’s way the only way?
The questions are good to ask. We can’t fully live our faith, if we don’t explore our doubts and seek Godly counsel. It’s understandable that our kids are totally confused, as they hear so many opposing views.
We Must Start with Personal Tolerance
The answer to the question is simple: as the creator of all, only God’s moral truth matters. Christians who earnestly seek a relationship with God willingly strive to submit to his teachings. Doing so doesn’t make Christians “better” than other people. Our stance simply recognizes that we are in need of a loving creator to guide us in thwarting the darkness of our hearts.
Christians are to be known for their love, not their judgment. And yet we so often get that wrong. We must remember that God loves all which he has created. He is actively seeking a relationship with every single person on the planet. So, yes, we must be tolerant of the people who toss the “Intolerant” label at us.
Morality can’t come from our wisdom. It was birthed by God. The authority of scripture is founded in the character of God, and represented in the flesh through Jesus. It is unchanging and right and perfect. Living by God’s standards can seem impossible. It’s not a feat for the lazy. Because it requires a daily dying to self. That isn’t a popular option in a society now dominated by self-worship.
Arriving at the Cultural Narrative of Truth
If God was once at the center of human thought in Western culture, how did he get moved to the sidelines?
For centuries, man viewed life via the character of God, as revealed in scripture. But that view has been challenged during several periods of “enlightenment”of extraordinary human accomplishment. One such period was the Renaissance, which began in Italy in the 1300s and spread across Europe over the next 200 years. Renaissance artists and thinkers began to exalt man and his abilities as the standard of all accomplishment. This shift gave birth to a doctrine called humanism. Elevating man as the master of his soul and fate lessened human dependence on God as the source of truth and morality.
The Enlightenment or Age of Reason followed, beginning in the 1600s and lasting through the next century. Here, thinkers claimed that God, if he was the creator the world, had left man to muddle through on his own. So man, they reasoned, was forced to lean upon his own reasoning to discern “truth.” In the Renaissance, man became central over God. In the Enlightenment, man’s reason became paramount.
The Industrial Revolution also was a period of explosive human productivity and advancement. People were further encouraged to look inward, not upward, for hope and guidance. And Charles Darwin shook the scientific world, trumping science over religion. Scientific “fact,” it was shouted, proved that man had no need of gods to explain or understand the world’s origin.
Our society now overwhelmingly views science as the ultimate litmus test of “truth.” Because spiritual or moral truth aren’t provable by science, society tells us that “truth” is subjective. So, then, it’s only logical that each person is free to determine their own personal truth. But at what cost? True freedom. Choosing sin, which non-Christians argue doesn’t exist, always leads to slavery. But God’s mercy, when we seek it, always gives us a fresh start.
The moral authority of the Bible isn’t found in its rules and commands. The strength of moral truth is that it finds its source in a “who,” not merely a “what.” That “what” is our personal, loving God who knows, understands, and loves us fully.
Thought to Ponder
Even committed Christians feel the pull of living outside of God’s moral truth. But we also acknowledge that our greatest act of trust is to believe that God’s ways are best. The joy we experience in submitting to him makes it unsatisfying to live in ways that doesn’t bring him glory. This week, have a discussion with your kids. Where are they currently finding their moral compass? To what degree are they committed to God? How closely are they walking with him? Help them to understand that labels like “intolerant” hurt, but they’re tolerable when our hearts are committed to learning to know God.
This blog post has been adapted from the book The Beauty of Intolerance, by Josh and Sean McDowell. To purchase a copy of this helpful parental resource, please visit our Store page.