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Well that doesn’t look right…

Unless of course you’re one of those people who think Christianity is bad (see my last post), you might think the image is spot-on.  For us Christians, however, this is a symbol that should move and motivate us.  The old adage that “a picture is worth a thousand words” is quite true here.

What do you think of when you see this symbol???

Not everyone is going to interpret it the same way.  For some it is an expression for how much hate and emotional violence Christianity has caused society (racial prejudice, bigotry, etc), and for others its for the exclusivity of Christians (Christians claim they’re right and everyone else is wrong).

Before we can go any further in talking about whether or not Christianity is intolerant, we first need to define what it means to be intolerant.

in·tol·er·ant:
a) unwilling to tolerate differences in opinions, practices, or beliefs, especially religious beliefs
b)lacking respect for practices and beliefs other than one’s own
c)opposed to the inclusion or participation of those different from oneself
d)unwilling or unable to endure or support

We should probably make sure we’re talking about the same thing when we throw around the word “intolerant,” because sometimes we can mean very different things and have a very unnecessary argument (my mom: “I said dress NICE!”   “This IS nice”- my dad).  A lot of the time, when people claim Christians are intolerant they are talking about how Christians have treated “sinners.”  By that, of course, I mean anyone who denies Christ as savior and does not live the way that God wants us to live.  In recent decades, this has come to be associated with treatment of homosexuals, atheists, and pornstars.  That’s just the way the cookie has crumbled.  Fundamentalist groups like the infamous Westboro Baptist Church have been at the forefront of hatin’ on er’body.  This would be definitions a) and b).  But this doesn’t jive with Christian teaching!   Matthew 5:44 says to love and pray for our enemies.  Matthew 7:1 says to not judge!  So is Christianity intolerant?

It definitely is not but sadly, Christians can be.  Like I mentioned last week, if there’s a way to abuse something, people will abuse it; the Bible is no different.  The verses used here come from the Old Testament, which say things like “…you shall not bow down to their gods nor serve them…but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their pillars in pieces.” Ex. 23:24.  Yikes.  Seems harsh, God.  Well we’re limited to discussion here, but suffice it say that justice was done on the cross, so punishment is different.  Also, a lot of the Old Testament verses are talking about specific people at specific times, to do specific things.  Everything that Jesus says, however, is for all of his followers to do, not just specific people.

But there’s still 2 more definitions that can make us intolerant!  So let’s keep going.  See, when we look at the last two…we’re totally intolerant.

Wait…WHAT?

…yeah.  We are.  But if think about it, we have to be.  Think about definition c).  When we’re taking part of communion, how can we offer it to non-believers?  Christians shouldn’t even take it if they aren’t willing to submit to Christ and thank Him for his sacrifice.  If we ask non-believers to do that, we ask them to be hypocrites.  If we do it without respecting it for what it is and represents, then we are hypocrites as well.  There are some things we do as Christians for the simple fact that we are Christians.  We don’t exclude someone based on any race, nationality, height, weight, style, or shoe size, we include everyone.  But they need to be like us in the sense that we are children of God, followers of Jesus Christ.

Then there’s definition d).  Why?  If we Christians find, for example, human life to exist at the point of conception, then we cannot support an abortion bill.  If the government wants to ban any discussion of religion from public schools, then we cannot support it.   Neither should we endure any of these things, we should raise awareness, peacefully protest, and fight for these rights that we believe all humans should have.

Here’s the kicker though: If c) and d) are proper definitions of intolerance, then almost NOBODY is tolerant!  Think about it!  If your family wants to have a family dinner, can you invite your friend?  Probably not (I tried it all the time as a kid).  If a scholarship is created to be awarded to an African-American student for certain merits, can that award go to a white student?  No, because by definition, it’s for an African-American.  It has a certain purpose to fulfill.  Just like communion for the Christian.  I doubt anybody (except maybe radical KKK people) would say that it was INTOLERANT to fight against slavery.  Why couldn’t the North just be tolerant, and accept slavery?  Because it violated what some people found to be inalienable rights, what some people found to be detrimental to living a proper life.  In the same way, people who fight for religious freedom in public schools and the right to life for the unborn, find these to be inalienable rights.  What about homosexuality?  Well, as a Christian, I believe that God wants us to live a certain way because it is better for us, it allows us to be closer to Him, and not does not give us laws “just because.”  This is why Christians oppose homosexuality in different ways (we won’t talk about marriage, or anything else, because there’s not enough room to discuss it- for the sake of the Christian and for the non-Christian), why they oppose prostitution, pornography, and the like.  It has nothing to do with just hating people for being different (now we know some people do this, though, and it’s not limited to just religious people).  It’s about living how we were created to, living the best way possible.  Which reminds me, isn’t intolerant to claim to have the only truth?

Well yes.  But in order to claim something not truth, you have to claim you have more of THE truth.  If you disagree with my Christian truth and call me intolerant for it, you automatically assume more truth, and are intolerant of my truth.  See tolerance means we have to tolerate things, to put up with things.  By its definition it implies disagreement and conflict.  Penn Jillette, (I’m summarizing here) said in an interview that he thinks the way “tolerance” is used is condescending.  Why?  Because saying, “Oh you just believe what you want to, go ahead,” is the way you talk to a child.

“True respect is being able to look someone in the eye and say “You’re wrong,” and being able to have someone say right back, “YOU’RE wrong.”

Armor meets in the CCV Shift offices at 6:30 on Tuesdays
Check out the Facebook at facebook.com/ccvarmor
Disagree with anything said here?  Let me know.

To see Penn’s full interview on “tolerance” click here
To read an atheist’s similar opinion on intolerance, click here

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