Thursday, July 19, 2007

Godly Tolerance

“Tolerance” today is the cardinal virtue of political correctness, our new civil religion. Tolerance sounds nice, but the PC kind of tolerance isn’t tolerance at all. According to the dictionary, “tolerance” means “sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from one’s own.” (The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, © 2005 by Merriam-Webster, Incorporated)

The PC crowd is far from tolerant of those who have beliefs or practices different from theirs, yet their goal is to force their brand of selective tolerance on others. By “selective tolerance” I mean being tolerant only of a select few groups that are considered politically correct. All other groups are not to be tolerated, but are to be ridiculed and suppressed. Despite this abuse of the concept of tolerance, I believe that people of faith are supposed to practice what I call a godly tolerance.

What, then, is godly tolerance? I believe godly tolerance is the practice of what we are taught in the Bible: love your neighbor as yourself, and do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It means to love a person, yet not to affirm their sin or destructive lifestyle if they are doing things contrary to biblical teachings. It means to love a person even if his or her theology or religious practices are different from our own (Romans chapter 14 contains a discussion of this subject).

The Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) talks often about taking care of the stranger and alien in the land. These aliens were quite different from the Israelites: not monotheists and they engaged in some detestable (according to the Bible) religious practices. While the Israelites were not to intermarry with them or engage in their religious practices, they were to treat them well (today we might say to be tolerant of them, but not affirm or buy into their way of life). So let us practice godly tolerance and not let the PC people force an ungodly and bogus form of tolerance on the rest of us.

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