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Selective Tolerance  


My introduction to "Chick-Fil-A" restaurants was back in the early 1980's when I lived in Richmond, Virginia, U. S. A..  Among Christians, it was a growing concern. Chick-Fil-A's Southern Baptist president, Dan Cathy, was recently interviewed by a Southern Baptist media outlet. He gave his support for the Biblical definition of marriage and made reference to God's judgment on a nation that rejects such Biblical definitions. 

Since Dan Cathy made his remarks, gay rights advocates have been furious. Their protest was recently seen in a nationwide "kiss-in". One day was set aside where men would kiss men and women would kiss women in as many Chick-Fil-A restaurants as possible. The mayors of Boston and Chicago publically stated that Chick-Fil-A was no longer welcome in their cities. All this in a nation that incorporated the right to free speech into her founding documents, and now embraces the humanistic doctrine of "tolerance". 

Western society appears to me to be hypocritical. What the humanistic apostles of tolerance have preached isn't what is being practiced. Tolerance is only extended to the like minded. Tolerance is not universal. It's "selective". 

As Christians, we have a tricky road ahead of us. How do we maneuver our way through a minefield of intolerance from the so-called tolerant? Some Christians have caved in, thinking that tolerance is the basis for peace and unity. Worse still, some teach that "peace at any cost" is actually Biblical. 

In Romans 14:19 the apostle Paul tells us to make every effort to live in peace. That was Paul's goal, but it wasn't his reality, as seen in his imprisonment and his untimely execution. Besides, in context, the peace Paul spoke of here is between brothers in Christ. 

Jesus didn't live in peace with the world around Him either. Despite the common consensus that Jesus was all about peace, He wasn't. As far as Jesus is concerned, peace is a by-product of truth. He didn't come to bring world peace. That's left for His second coming. On the contrary, Jesus told His followers to expect conflict, opposition, and division. (Matthew 10:34-35) Both Paul and Jesus weren't out looking for conflict, and neither am I. I'd prefer the unbiblical gospel of "come to Jesus and live happily ever after", but it just doesn't work that way.  Look at what Jesus said in John 16:33.  "I have told you these things, so that 'in me' you might have peace.  'In this world' you will have trouble".  Conflict simply arises because of our association with Jesus and the truth of the gospel we proclaim to be universal and absolute. 

In Acts 17 Paul entered into a dialogue with certain philosophical educators. He wasn't afraid to put himself in the centre of the issues of his day. Like many educators today, these men were good at asking questions and referencing sources with varying view points. However, they weren't good at finding answers leading to a firm conviction. As Paul said, "ever learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:17) Maybe these guys were more interested in the sport of debating than the knowledge of the truth. Besides, no one has all the answers, right? Everyone is right to one degree or another. So let's embrace all that's out there and live in peace. 

The whole debate in Acts 17 suddenly ended in an uproar when Paul introduced the truth of the gospel of Jesus as being universal and absolute. Paul was no longer a philosophical debater. He was a nut cake. He was seen as intolerant by the so-called tolerant. 

Things haven't changed since Paul's day. Many like asking the questions. They like debating the issues for the sport of it, and as long as you play their game, things go fine. Insert a Biblical absolute and things suddenly change. There's no absolute in a world of tolerance, and for that reason, the universal and absolute gospel of Christ puts us in the middle of one nasty conflict. 

The answer to how we maneuver our way through the minefield of accusations in a so-called tolerant world is to follow the example of Jesus and Paul. We make every effort to live peacefully with everyone without compromising the truth of Scripture in the process. We don't enter the debate for the mere sport of it. We enter the debate because of our love and compassion for the lost souls who vigorously oppose us. We don't look for conflict, but we know it's unavoidable when we attempt saving drowning souls from eternal damnation. 

Dan Cathy has been heavily criticized, not for being a nasty jerk, not for discriminating against those who call themselves gay, but for simply speaking Biblical truth. Societal tolerance is a myth. It's not tolerance. It's "selective tolerance". Knowing this, we proclaim the universal and absolute truth of the gospel for the sake of those who oppose us. Beyond this, we can only trust Jesus for what comes next. 


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