Last week I came across a video in which a homosexual activist named Dan Savage, creator of the “It Gets Better Project”, was invited to speak as a keynote speaker at NSPA/ JEA’s annual High School Journalism convention, “Journalism on the Edge”. Many published reports indicate that Mr. Savage took time in his speech to inform these teenagers of his sexual desire of (and exploits with) his current partner.
During the middle of his speech he stops and says “The Bible”.
What followed was a tirade of insults and cursing hurled at Christians who maintain a biblical worldview. A worldview is quite simply shorthand for ‘how you see the world’. Everyone has a worldview that serves as a filter by which they process what is going on around them. For Christians who take their bible seriously, much of their worldview is formed by scripture. Watch this video and ask if this anti-bullying talk is ‘tolerant’, ‘accepting’, ‘loving’ or ‘none of the above’.
This bullying attack – in a room of minors under the care of their respective educators- was done under the guise of Mr. Savage’s anti-bullying campaign. Ironically in the video (link below) he notes that he is just “defending himself”. I suppose he was defending himself from the phantom Christian who had a microphone reading scripture and telling him he was going to hell. Mr. Savage was not defending himself he was acting in a manner completely contradictory to his ‘anti-bullying’ campaign. At that moment he WAS the bully. The vast majority of Christians in this country do not protest with signs against homosexuality but they also should not be forced to ‘tolerate’ this behavior into acceptance.
VIDEO: Dan Savage attacks Christians as a Christian student walks out in protest. Many Christian High School students walked out as Mr. Savage insulted these minors.
This speech by Dan Savage is a great reminder of the fact that ‘tolerance’ tends to shift in meaning depending on the person using it at the moment.
As a Christian I actually find ‘tolerance’ to be a pathetic and low-level virtue when compared to the Christian virtue of love.
I also submit that the actual connotation of the word ‘tolerance’ has gradually been shifted to the point where ‘tolerance’ is now interchangeable with ‘acceptance’. If you are in favor of elevating discourse without compromising your Christian faith, please continue to read:
Below are definitions according to merriam-webster.com. I took the liberty of selecting the definition that most relates to public discourse.
2a : sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own
b : the act of allowing something : toleration
4a : unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another: as (1) : the fatherly concern of God for humankind (2) : brotherly concern for others
What the world says: “Tolerance”
What the world means: “Acceptance”
The word “tolerance” is most often used as an atomic bomb to silence anyone promoting boundaries in sexual behavior.
What is being demanded is not tolerance but rather acceptance.
As a Christian I don’t want people to be simply tolerated or even accepted, I want people to be loved.
To ‘tolerate’ a behavior does not require an acceptance or approval of that behavior. I can ‘tolerate’ loud music blaring from a car in my neighborhood but it does not mean that I am to accept it. At some point I will reach a ‘tolerance’ threshold where I can no longer stand the noise and I desire to remove myself from the vicinity of the sound or act in such a way as to request that the noise level come down to a level that is deemed ‘socially acceptable’. What if, however, there was a way to convince the rest of my neighborhood that loud noise wasn’t the problem but actually my ‘intolerance’ of noise was the problem. Then we would be having a different conversation.
If you take away my recourse and tell me to ‘tolerate’ an indefinite amount of loud noise outside of my home without ever acting to stop the noise, you have moved beyond asking me to ‘tolerate’ a particular behavior and into an area where you are asking me to ‘accept’ a ‘new normal’ level of noise. To ‘tolerate’ a behavior and to ‘accept’ a behavior are two totally different propositions. I can tolerate you by ignoring you to the best of my ability but when you move into my life with your actions then what you really want is for me to accept and approve of your behavior. These are vastly differing requests. Today in our society we are not being asked to ‘tolerate’ but rather ‘accept’ all forms of sexual expression not only in private homes of others but in every public arena, on television, our children’s text books and in our governing laws. Society is being beaten over the head with the use of the word ‘tolerance’ to the point where we have blurred ‘tolerance’ and ‘acceptance’.
The biblical picture of love does not require me to tolerate or accept behavior that is unhealthy for the individual and demeaning to God. In fact, a biblical account of love is that I seek the best interest for others around me… even better than myself. I am to love with gentleness and respect. Jesus loved the world enough to die for the world and provide the avenue for eternal life but he did not ‘accept’ or ‘tolerate’ sin.
It is the very fact that sin is so vile and so offensive to God that God’s holiness demanded a brutal and unrelenting punishment. That punishment is owed to all of us who sin but Jesus took on that punishment so that we may have life. Jesus’ very existence demonstrated God’s wrath over sin, not his acceptance or tolerance.
If you look at the woman at the well for example, she was caught in sexual sin. Like many people she got caught up in sexual sin while looking for love. Love came along and said “Go and sin no more.” Love told her to drop the substitute and come to God. Loving the individual does not mean accepting or even tolerating behavior harmful to that individual.
I propose to you that genuine biblical love is far greater than tolerance or even acceptance.
Think drug addiction.
Tolerance would encourage me to allow the addict and the addiction to continue. As the great theologian Axel Rose once said ‘Live and let die.’
Acceptance would call me to more than tolerance I suppose. Acceptance would say that my duty is to ‘support’ the addict and potentially keep them from the worst of the pain by providing clean needles or even a continual supply of drugs.
To love an addict would be to assist in any way possible to help that person become clean, sober and healthy. That process may take years or even decades but love compels me to not tolerate or accept the things that cause harm to the one I love.
Love Raises The Bar.
The Christian view of love demands that we speak up boldly with gentleness and respect but we do not tolerate or accept behavior that is not loving, that is behavior that ultimately harms the individual and society. Love raises the bar.
Look around our world today and ask yourself what the world would look like if a generation of children were taught a biblical worldview with regard to sexual morality and marriage.
Obviously, a person wouldn’t identify themselves first and foremost by how they achieved an orgasm.
Young ladies would no longer give themselves over to the lusts of adolescent boys.
Teen pregnancy would decrease along with abortion on demand, cohabitation and the perpetual cycle of divorce.
Emotional stability and home stability would lead to higher productivity in educational and vocational pursuits which ultimately benefits all of us. These desires are the goal of love.
To tolerate or accept less than God’s best is not loving but to speak truth with gentleness and respect is very much the essence of Christian love.
If you are a Christian I urge you to study and understand how even God’s commands and restrictions are evidence of His love. As you understand why a loving God provides boundaries please do not feel pressured to embrace a position less than loving. Tolerance and acceptance are not loving, they are harmful. Pointing people to Jesus as The Way is the greatest act of love.