The Tolerance Trap

The Tolerance Trap June 6, 2022

It wasn’t that long ago that Christians were known by our uniqueness. We had a guiding set of rules, a narrow path to eternity and common moral code. We were the outsiders, the foreigners, the aliens.

Our beliefs ran counter to other lifestyles that followed principles that focused on self-fulfillment and goodness.  At the core of our faith is the belief in Jesus and a requirement to follow him.  Those who didn’t follow him are outside of his blessing and thus the call to persuade and make the case. “Come to Jesus,” is our common plea.

At some point this defined belief was called intolerant. And that’s, in part, accurate. We don’t believe in “my truth” as defined by the individual. We believe in truth that predates time itself, passed from generation to generation. Without common parameters, we have a society that runs wild. Life is sacred. People must be honored. Nature is to be respected. Relationships are to be guarded. These are truths that should be common and not subject to interpretation.

But we didn’t like being called intolerant because some made the leap to “hateful.” Just because I disagree with you doesn’t mean I hate you. The American Cancer Society warns smokers to stop, that cigarettes can cause death. Their disagreement is not hate. My disagreement with the world’s focus is not hateful, rather it is meant to bring a warning and to stop the descent.

Tolerance moves to acceptance

Photo by Sarah Ardin on Unsplash

So, to stop the critics, our tolerance became acceptance. I fell into this trap because I really love people. I have great understanding, patience and compassion for those who have fallen into the pitfalls of this world. I have cried with the addict, embraced the confused, and held hands with the grieving. Life for some is so hard. I see myself in so many of their stories and that’s why I find it easy to accept their burden.

 And yes, I want them to stop with the drugs, end the cycle of unfaithfulness, and quit the destruction of of sin. I am intolerant in my belief that there is just one way out of the mess, but my love for them allows for acceptance of the person – and too often by default, acceptance of the sin itself.

The church followed this trajectory, trading repentance for acceptance. We softened our stance. We took a libertarian approach to sin in the world creeping into our society, our culture, our schools and even our churches.

Acceptance moves to celebration

And then at some points, acceptance moved into celebration. It wasn’t enough to accept the influence of the world, we had to celebrate it. Churches began to set aside weeks and months to adopt causes of the world that felt compassionate but were rooted in a spirit that was against Christ’s teachings. We flew the flag, embraced the special cause, and ingested the guilt of not understanding. Diversity in its purest form is beautiful. But when it is celebrated as a tool to divide and guilt the innocent, it takes a sharp turn.

Celebration moves to participation

And now our celebration is moving to participation. It isn’t enough to tolerate the ways of the world. It isn’t enough to accept the sinner as he is. And it isn’t enough to celebrate the cultural aberrations. Now we are being asked – or forced – to participate in them.  We are seeing this in Canada, where church pulpits are unable to read certain portions of Scripture. It will soon spread to the rest of the world, where people of faith will need to fully participate in the culture increasingly at odds with historic Christianity.

I won’t enumerate them in this space, but you can see them with your own eyes.

We must stand against the anti-science, anti-logic, anti-God, anti-historical twisting of basic understanding of humanity. Quite simply, we need a return to truth. If that means we are called “intolerant,” then so be it.

From tolerance to acceptance to celebration to participation. The drift is perceptible and palpable. It’s also deadly for our society and for our souls.


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