Why You’re Not as Tolerant as You Think

Today’s new view of tolerance says that telling someone their behavoir is sinful is, well, wrong. I’ve seen this repeated over and over again in the last few weeks/months/years by people who want to help the church shed its stuffy reputation. And I get it, in some ways. I think there are areas where the church needs to repent, times when the church has been hurtful, wrong and on the other side of important issues. Made up of humans, sinners, we’ve often, in our checkered 2,000 plus years of history, strayed from our gospel moorings.

However, it’s interesting, this discussion we are having in our culture. If you bend your ear to hear, what many people, most people, are saying is: You shouldn’t judge someone’s personal behavior (usually sexual preferences). You should respect their choices and give them the widest possible berth. They should be afforded all rights and privileges to practice the behavior they choose.

That’s what we are saying. For you to draw the line where you draw it, based on your belief system, is just plain wrong. This is what we are told.

The only problem is that we don’t actually believe this, do we?

For instance, it’s considered wrong now to tell someone that they are engaging in wrong behavior. If you follow an orthodox, biblical position on sexuality, for instance, you are usually labeled a bigot, insensitive and, well, ironically, wrong.

If you say that your basis for conduct is the infallible, inerrent Word of God, well then you are considered narrow, not really open-minded and, well, ironically, wrong.

If you declare that God is love, a love that expresses itself in right justice against sin, and if you declare that everyone is a sinner, you are considered judgmental and, ironically, wrong.

If you declare that God passionately pursued sinners by sending Jesus Christ, the only God-man, and that his death, burial and resurrection are the only way back to God, to eternal life and to spiritual wholeness, you are considered intolerant and, well, wrong.

But here’s the problem underlying all of this tolerance: It doesn’t work out. In order to definitively declare something wrong, you are acknowledging that there is a basis, somewhere, for actually deciding right and wrong.

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Daniel Darling
Daniel Darling is the Vice President for Communications for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention (ERLC). For five years, Dan served as Senior Pastor of Gages Lake Bible Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago and is the author of several books, including Teen People of the Bible, Crash Course, iFaith, Real, and his latest, Activist Faith. He and his wife Angela have four children and reside in the Nashville area.

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