I think we have become a little confused. In this age where information is as easily accessible as it has ever been, and sharing opinions and beliefs with the masses is as easy as a placing a “#” in front of a word, it has become too easy, and too common, to get pushed and pulled in the wrong directions.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe that sharing information is one of the most important activities that humans can do. We have the ability to solve a plethora of issues if we work together and build off each other’s ideas. But where we run into trouble is when we build off of the wrong idea – or in the wrong direction. When we take something that starts out as good and twist it until it is nothing like what it started out as.
Lately, the idea that causes me the most concern is tolerance. On the surface, tolerance is an ideal attitude. We should all be tolerant of others – not forcing others to bend to our whim or, worse, discrimination because of someone else’s beliefs. However, as I look at the world around me, I see that tolerance has become the poster word for accepting anything and everything. There are two reasons that his current view of tolerance causes problems.
The first is that people demand that your views be tolerated. This is, in fact, a very intolerant attitude. Instead of being on the defensive against the social norm, there are many who take to the offensive, trumpeting the idea that if you do not accept their way, then you are intolerant.
The second is by accepting someone else’s beliefs and being sympathetic to their views. Now, I know what you are saying, isn’t that not only the very definition of tolerance but the way we should treat each other? Why yes it is, under most circumstances. Where it is problematic is when the person’s belief we are tolerating is sinful.
Let me give you an example of where being tolerant is a bad idea. My two children both like to stay up past their bedtime. If I were to say that because they do not want to go to bed that they shouldn’t have a bedtime that would not be tolerant – it would be irresponsible. A 5-year-old needs to go to sleep before 11 pm if she is to be ready for school the next morning.
A passage from the Bible has recently taken on a new meaning for me as I have contemplated this issue. In John 8:1-11 Jesus is presented with a woman who has been caught in adultery. The Pharisees, in an attempt to trick Jesus, quote the Law which states that she should be stoned. If I were standing in Jesus’ sandals, there would have been two responses that I would have to choose between. One, is to uphold the Law and have the woman stoned. The other is to ignore the Law and allow her to go. Either of those responses would have played right into the Pharisee’s hand.
But Jesus saw a third response. Now, we don’t know what he was writing in the sand, but whatever it was, it was enough to have every person turn and walk away. When they had all left, he doesn’t pick up a stone (He, of course, was without sin) nor does he condone the act, He instructs her to leave her life of sin.
What amazes me about this story is that Jesus did not condemn her, nor did He accept that the women had made her choice and he would simply accept that is the way she has chosen to live.
Discrimination is wrong. Hate is wrong. But so is skirting the truth; so, you don’t offend and compromise God’s Truth to appease the current trends.
When we are faced with the hot issues of today, we need to stand uncompromising on the Truth. None of us get to make up what the Truth is. We get it from God. He has given us His Word and the Holy Spirit. We need to hold fast to the Word of God and do it with love for the person. Love isn’t blindly accepting of anything and everything, it is often manifested in helping someone see the error of their ways.
Jesus loved the woman in John 8 enough to show her great mercy and instruct her to turn away from her bad choices. We should all strive to walk that balance.