The definition of tolerance is: the capacity to endure, without adverse reaction. If a person becomes “tolerant” of a certain drug then it no longer continues to work like it is supposed to in their body. Is that what has happened to the body of Christ? Have we come to a place, as Christians, that we have the capacity to endure sin, without experiencing an adverse reaction to it?
I still remember the first time I saw two people of the same sex kiss on TV – I was disgusted and repulsed. I realized recently that I just roll my eyes now and shrug my shoulders. I’m getting used to seeing it and I don’t seem to have the same adverse reaction. The same is true for all the heterosexual sin that is graphically displayed in the media. In my lifetime we have gone from Lucy and Ricky in twin beds to the movie trailers for 50 Shades of Grey. What will be on the television fifty years from now? Will there even be a fifty years from now?
I was having dinner with a room full of wonderful Christian women, most of whom are grandmothers. The conversation was both passionate and desperate. How has our culture arrived at this place? Is there anything that can be done? Is there anything “I” can do? The answer is yes, but it won’t be easy. In fact, it isn’t possible without God’s help. That is actually the great news because with God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). Moral healing won’t happen without God’s help and without God’s people realizing how much they need that help.
I’d like to suggest all of us choose God’s word as our only standard of truth. If we think we have already done that, consider these verses:
Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Do we view every person who is not a Christian as destined to spend eternity in hell? Are we able to tolerate their choice to refuse Jesus as their Lord? Do we truly love and care about the eternal lives of those around us?
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). Do we speak up, ready to share our faith in Christ and the hope he offers? Do we speak the truth in love, because we care about the souls that are listening? Or do we stay quiet and tolerate their opinions and their rights? Do we shout and argue because we want to convince those souls that we are right? Does our silence or our argument allow people to leave the conversation believing a sinful opinion is true that we know our Bible says is a lie?
Second, I would like to suggest that tolerance has become popular because it is another way of saying, “I don’t care.” Isn’t that what has truly happened in the body of Christ? If we can tolerate a person’s sinful choice then we don’t have to feel any moral responsibility for their consequences. If we can tolerate sin, we don’t have to condemn that sin from the pulpit, and more people will join our institution. The problem is, most people don’t understand or believe in those consequences, and we do.
I think one of the most frightening passages in Scripture is Jesus’ word about false disciples. He said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'” (John 7:21-23).
Our culture will reward our tolerance and condemn us for speaking God’s truth. Are you prepared to speak God’s truth, anyway? Do you choose God’s word as your standard for truth? If so, please consider one last passage. Find your Bible or use this link to read every word of Romans 12. Take the time to prayerfully ask the Holy Spirit this question: Is the Bible my standard for truth? We aren’t allowed to tolerate sin. If we really care about those around us, we won’t.
There is abundant sin in the media these days that we watch without having an “adverse reaction to it.” Jesus looked at Jerusalem, at his culture, and wept. Do we?