The seventies instilled in us the belief, er, wish that “all you need is love” to be happy and succeed in life, politics, the workplace, relationships, whatever. Love and peace were the mantras echoed against the Vietnam war and turmoil of the draft amongst other things. Today the battle cry has morphed into tolerance. We do indeed long to be loved, but we are more concerned with having the freedom to believe and do whatever we darn. well. please. Sure, it would be great if you loved me for what I do – but I want the government to protect me from you disagreeing with me, bullying me, or trying to prove me wrong. This mindset is permeating our culture at such a rate that parents are now hesitant to teach and discipline their children, friends consider the highest form of mutual respect to be unmitigated acceptance, and employers and professors are now afraid of their employees and students – for fear that the wrong policy or statement might end in a lawsuit.
Deep in our hearts, on the most visceral level, we know that tolerance does not equal love and tolerance is not a sustainable value in education, maturation and interpersonal relationships. If a child wants to play with a poisonous snake we tell him no and we explain the dangers. If a young person believes that babies arrive by storks delivering them to happy parents, the eventually need to be given sex education to learn about how our bodies work and why certain changes have happened to them as they grew older. If an American moves to England, someone must sit him down and explain driving on the left-hand side of the road and how the turn signal is opposite from the windshield wipers in the US.
Tolerance sounds great: Live and let live, however we all recognize that there must be confines within which that tolerance resides. Proclaiming “peace” and declaring that “all we need is love” will not stop terrorists from killing people who are not fighting. Withdrawing from war will not force the Sudanese people to suddenly get along. Ignoring evil will not make evil go away.
We also recognize that we must teach children to read and write, to learn math, to walk, and countless other basic skills. To play a sport or a game there must be rules otherwise the game falls apart.
Ok, so the philosophically elite argue then that tolerance should be encompassing of our “immutable characteristics and belief systems”. Simply, religion and carnal desires – and general worldviews that would encompass cultural tendencies and desires, as long as you are not hurting or imposing on someone else’s rights. Again, this sounds very neat and tidy up front, but what about the culture that marries children? What about the culture that allows multiple spouses? What about the person who is born with the addiction to cocaine or the person who is genetically prone to alcoholism? What about the religion that sacrifices animals? What about the religion that eats human flesh to interact with their gods? Or has sexual relations with animals?
We are left again with a difficult situation: to tolerate and allow one person to practice their worldview will cause another to feel discriminated against in almost every situation. If there are no absolutes, then everyone will find an opponent and it is asinine to expect the government to be able to rule on such a wide and vague range of topics.
That, however, is a side topic. My main argument is that this kind of tolerance is not only impossible, it is illogical. If a person truly believes whatever it is that he is proclaiming, then the truest form of love is to tell others and try to convince them of this belief. If I truly believe that you will die if you step onto the street in front of that speeding bus, then it is not loving of me to philosophically evaluate the situation and consider your worldview and decision. I will shove you out of the way or pull you back onto the sidewalk. If I truly believe animals have rights and deserve to be treated humanely, I will join PETA and try to save animals from abusive homes and from religions that would sacrifice them or fight them for sport – and try to convince you why it is wrong to do so.
And most importantly, if I truly believe that apart from Jesus Christ we are all sinners and condemned to Hell, the most loving act for me is to warn you of the coming judgment and tell you of the hope in Jesus Christ. If I believe that you are headed to Hell because of your sin and never tell you how to be forgiven in Jesus, I either hate you or do not truly believe that, because an eternity separated from God in the lake of fire and torment is infinitely worse than getting hit by a bus.
Tolerance, therefore, is essentially indifference. To allow someone to do something and live something that is contrary to your belief system – if there is a consequence involved – is to not care. Or worse, to hate. One cannot truly validate another’s worldview and opinions without invalidating his own – unless he someone has a completely illogical all-inclusivism which would leave him with fundamentally no belief system.
Philosophy is greatly complicating our relationships and politics.
Therefore, let us cling to the long-standing authority of the Bible which has never been disproven and has withstood the test of centuries of critiques and cultures. Alcoholism is not new. Mysticism is not new. Homosexuality is not new. Nothing that our culture attempts to throw at the Bible in an effort to discredit or defame it is new. And while it is a work of the Holy Spirit to draw someone to the Truth of the Bible, Scripture is clear that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Therefore, we must share so that people can hear and be saved.
– Rom 10.17
If you believe the Bible, if you believe in Heaven and Hell, to love your friend and neighbor is to tell them about Jesus. To tolerate them is to not talk about Jesus and to not love them, but to condemn them to Hell via inaction. Once they have heard, there is a level of tolerance required, but true love would continue to be concerned about their eternities and souls, and to never leave the topic far from conversation. Let us love people, and earnestly try to reason with them so that they may be saved.
“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”
– Charles Spurgeon