I have been noticing an interesting trend in our country the past several years. First, the definition of the word tolerance has changed. It has went from meaning one believing that everyone has the right to hold to their view regardless of whether they agree with it or not to one affirming that all views must be valid. In fact, now, even if one recognizes one's right to hold to a certain view, if they declare that view wrong or invalid they become labeled as intolerant. As Bob Dylan once sang, "the times they are a-changin.'" Second, what is even more interesting about this new tolerance espoused today, is that it appears that two of its primary targets are Christians and Christianity. Allow me to point out some examples that demonstrate this.
The CEO of popular restaurant chain, Chic-Fil-A, makes a statement that expresses his position on marriage that has been the church's understanding of the sacred union based on the Bible for the past 2,000 years. The next thing you know, people are talking about how intolerant he is and are calling for a boycott. Some companies decide against supporting the restaurant chain because of the view of it's CEO. Most laughable of all has to be the mayor of Boston publicly refusing to allow a Chic-Fil-A restaurant to be in his city due to the CEO's statement violating it's stance as an "open city," a "city at the forefront of inclusion." What he must have meant to say was that Boston serves as an "open city" and "at the forefront of inclusion" for those who agree with what the mayor considers appropriate and that they are actually "closed" and "exclude" those they do not agree with. Ironically, in the name of tolerance they cannot tolerate the CEO's position!
In the last inaugural ceremony for President Obama, evangelical pastor Louie Giglo was originally invited to give the benediction for the service. However, after some sleuth work uncovered that he had preached a sermon about 15 years ago or so stating that homosexuality is a sin, he was quickly pressured to back out of the invitation with the White House issuing an apology due to them not knowing his views on human sexuality. (Though what would you expect from an evangelical pastor who holds to the Bible as God's inspired, inerrant, and authoritative Word?) Controversy also surrounded Pastor Rick Warren when he was asked to give the benediction for President Obama's inaugural ceremony for his first term. People cited his views on homosexuality (which are the same as Giglo) and his biblical position on the exclusivity of the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. They just could not tolerate these views. Yet both Giglo and Warren were the ones being described as intolerant for their views! Interestingly enough, little was said about Obama also choosing Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal denomination. He believes that his view is right and that Warren and Giglo's are wrong. Yet the same ones who were concerned about Warren's views upsetting others didn't seem to mind Robinson's.
And to note a more local case, we can look to the stir that has been caused in Connellsville, PA when a Jr. High School was sued to remove a 10 Commandments monument that had been on the school grounds for about 55 years. Why the lawsuit in the first place? Someone complained about it. I guess it must have offended them. However, removing it appears to have offended several others within the small community as 10 Commandments signs now can be found all over Connellsville and the surrounding Mt. Pleasant area where I live. Plus, several complaints have arose over taking it down or moving it. If this really is about being cautious concerning offending anyone, then what about the many offended over taking it down? What about their rights? This new tolerance certainly appears to be very "one-sided."
To make any statement about homosexuality being a sin and so-called "same-sex marriage" to be against God's created plan for the family leads to being called names such as "bigot" and the accusation that one is discriminating against homosexuals. However, these people either fail to understand what "discrimination" is or they have redefined it since by such name calling and accusations they actually discriminate against the Christians who hold to such views. Talk about a double standard!
Now none of this should surprise Christians. After all, Jesus did warn us about this. He said, If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you (John 15:19). Those who bear Christ's name will also be ridiculed as He was on this earth. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also (John 15:20). I often wonder if this new tolerance might be the start of the persecution of Christ's true followers in America. Regardless, we need to continue to preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ unashamedly while it may be labeled intolerant and our freedoms to do so may become more and more limited. Many are heading to Hell and need to hear the good news!
Soli Deo Gloria!!!