A time to be tolerant; a time not to be tolerant
I just checked Ecclesiastes 3 and it ain’t there.
But it might have been if John MacArthur were to have had input.
Let me explain … today I posted the above meme on my Facebook page as it struck me as especially relevant at this time. One indignant friend commented: “Rubbish! This quotation is a recipe for violence and murder. It’s why they burnt heretics, Jews, and witches in the Middle Ages and wept while they were doing it…”
He is right of course regarding the intolerance perpetrated by them in power toward them they had power over, ostensibly because something about them was deemed sinful. I think most of us can all agree the behaviour my friend referred to was egregiously WRONG. Fortunately, while true social distancing often occurs when one rejects certain popular ideology that others deem important, in the case of my friend and I, we often do see things differently, but will not to fall out over it and expect to remain friends.
As I told him, in my grumpy dotage, he is one of the few people that not only will I not take umbrage but I esteem him highly enough to offer an explanation despite it being unlikely to change his views. Let me explain where I am coming from …
Firstly, I am one of those brought up “old school”, where one of the chief virtues was “duty”. I have seen a change where duty has been relegated to low in the list and “tolerance” promoted to high in the list. I admit there have been instances in my life, too many to my shame, when instead of being tolerant toward those who had different perspectives and priorities, I have been intolerant. I have also observed how sincere Christians can be particularly intolerant of those whose “sins” they particularly disapprove of or how those who preach the importance of intolerance are intolerant to those whose views are not in line with the status quo or how those who appear cool, polite and decent but are really the scum of the earth are approved and lauded and those who aren’t are disapproved and castigated. I often find myself pondering the text that applies to many, including Christians: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” Isaiah 5:20.
Secondly, the last blog I posted was titled “Sexual Orientation, Sexual Identity and Divorce”. One of my main points was changing gender was something we are being told we need to be tolerant concerning, including brainwashing our children to believe gender transition is a perfectly ok thing to happen. My point was we should tolerate and respond positively to those who think and act differently to us or what we believe is the right way, when we can. I am mindful history is littered with victims of those who did not conform to societal norms and as a result were treated as outcasts or worse. Yet we should not tolerate and certainly not endorse behaviour which is sinful AND especially if it is going to harm others, which in the example given in my last blog included children.
Thirdly, John MacArthur, in my book is like marmite (someone that some people like very much and other people dislike very strongly) and ironically one I know I need to show tolerance to. On one hand, he is sadly dismissive of those he shouldn’t be, e.g. Charismatic Christians but, on the other hand, he is gladly dismissive of the Corona nonsense we have been subject to in recent times, when even those in my own Christian circle have buckled. This, as well as when he shares wisdom like that in this meme, is to be commended.
As Christians, we are about truth and, as we are reminded, there is always a time for truth: “Buy the truth, and sell it not” Proverbs 23:23. We should also be about the righteousness of God, yet we are called to love the “other”, as Jesus showed, setting an example when He ate with those who society rejected. But we can never endorse unrighteousness, nor take the cowards option, who ignore that which they find uncomfortable, but rather we must oppose wrong doing when we can, because we “love thy neighbour” as well as “love thy enemy“, whoever one’s neighbor / enemy happens to be, recognizing the practical implications may be huge. If all that makes me an intolerant bigot etc. in the eyes of some then so be it, but let me first refer you to Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, which should govern our attitudes, more than societal fads.