“Intolerant of intolerance?” ☆

integrityThe whole “tolerance/intolerance” thing seems to be the buzzword of the day, doesn’t it?  It’s easy to get to the place of saying, “Enough!  I simply cannot tolerate intolerance any more!”  Crazy, huh?  When will we learn that fighting intolerance with intolerance just doesn’t work?

You know me well enough by now to remember that I love consulting my old friend, Noah Webster about definitions:

  1. Tolerance:  the power or capacity of enduring; the endurance of the presence or actions of objectionable persons, or of the expression of offensive opinions.
  2. Intolerance:  refusal to allow others the enjoyment of their opinions, chosen modes or worship, and the like; lack of patience and forbearance; unjust impatience of the opinion of those who do not agree with us.

Quite frankly, it seems to me that calling someone “intolerant” has become a reasonable excuse to be rude to one who disagrees.  Words fly as opponents throw “expert opinions” at one another with attitudes of superiority.  Facebook™ and youtube™ abound with all sorts of opportunities to bash those who differ with name-calling comments and disrespectful language.

I find it interesting that many opinions expressed by Christians are most vigorously and mockingly vilified.  And, what I find even more interesting is that many times the ones on both sides consider themselves to be Christians.  So, what’s up with that?

I also find it interesting that the opinions expressed about morality issues cause the most vigorous attacks.  Now, fortunately, the majority of us can agree that important issues exist:  child molestation; human trafficking and rape; bullying of any kind; and embezzlement.  The problem comes when we try to place descriptive borders on these:

  1. Ultimate child molestation – abortion at all stages.
  2. Human trafficking and rape – coercing someone to go beyond what they want, particularly in sexual areas.
  3. Bullying of any kind – making fun of those with different personal standards and beliefs; taking advantage of the vulnerable – the ones most susceptible to being wounded.
  4. Embezzlement – appropriation of another’s possessions for personal use.

And, if you have read many of the posts to this blog, you know that I consider not engaging in intimate sexual activity apart from marriage to be a standard worth upholding as one way to honor God and to follow His word as given to us in the Bible.  Various translations use prohibitive words such as:  practicing sexual immorality or relations; playing the whore/harlot/prostitute; practicing fornication/adultery; being unfaithful to a spouse; promiscuity; and lustful acts.  These phrases are unmistakably clear and the definitions have not changed much over the centuries.  Adultery is understood as sexual activity including someone who is married; fornication is understood as sexual activity on the part of someone who is unmarried.  No one is left out.  If brought into the public arena, most people are embarrassed and feel shame.

Throughout scripture, to marry has been understood to take a husband or wife – a life-companion of the opposite sex.  To remain single for life was rare, so few words describe that in the Bible, except for occasional uses of “unmarried” and “virgin.”  It was understood that one who was not married was expected to refrain from sexual activity.  While the word, “celibate” does not appear in the Bible, its meaning is clear.

While some of the women on the TV program, The View, can heckle and demean long-term celibacy all they want as an unreasonable and downright silly practice, I can look at Biblical folks like Paul and – well – Jesus – as examples of men who lived fulfilling and adventurous lives without marriage and its physical/emotional aspects.  They also had close friends with whom they could confide the deepest longings of their souls.  That gives me great hope.

How is it that our society can admire athletes who practice great discipline to sharpen their skills, and laugh at onesomes who practice the spiritual fruit of self-control to follow a life of abstinence?  The society “how” is that we are trained in the science of taking, more than giving.  As I’ve written in a number of previous posts, the life of an unmarried, committed Jesus-follower whose desire is to glorify Him in thought, word, and act, includes a covenant with the living God who created sex in the first place, and who gives His power to put it into proper context.  Easy?  Absolutely not!  Possible?  Absolutely!

Read how The Message presents some words of the Apostle Paul in the New Testament:

(I Corinthians 6:16-20)  There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin.  Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact.  As written in Scripture, ‘The two become one.’  Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever – the kind of sex that can never ‘become one.’  There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others.  In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for ‘becoming one’ with another.  Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit?  Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for?  The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you.  God owns the whole works.  So let people see God in and through your body.”

 

Powerful words from a 6 year-old ☆

first grade rocksA young couple I know has four amazing children, and I love seeing them bounce into church on Sunday mornings.  The night before school this fall, young mom asked oldest son, Drew, to think about something he might say to his younger siblings the next day.  She didn’t tell him what to say, and expected he would say things like, “Have a happy day,” or “Play nice.”  Well, read this and be amazed at what came out of this boy’s mouth!

“Today is Drew’s first day of first grade.  As we drove to school he took a few minutes to talk to each of his siblings:

‘Abigail, even though I’m going to school and you are staying at home for school (kindergarten), I’m real proud of you.  You are a good girl and you are still my best friend.  I love you so much.  And you are a beautiful daughter of the King.

‘Simon, You are crazy.  I’m praying that you will be a good boy today, that you will listen to mom and make good choices.  I will play with you when I get home.  I love you, buddy.

‘Essie, you are so silly and goofy.  Don’t grow up too much today.  I’m sorry I have to go to school and I will miss your birthday.  I know you will be a good happy girl all day.  You are a beautiful daughter of the King.  I love you.’

As if that wasn’t enough . . .

‘Mom, I love you.  You do so much for me.  I’m real proud of you.  I hope you have a good day.  You are beautiful.  Don’t be late picking me up.’

Yes, I cried.”

Wow!  This articulate little boy – and so many like him – is our future!  I anticipate that he and his family and friends will stand firm in the relationship they are building with Jesus!  His will not be an easy world.  We see more and more derision of those who are Christ-followers, don’t we?  Many paint all of us with broad brush strokes because of the unwise and thoughtless – perhaps trite and downright stupid – words and acts of a few who identify themselves as Christians.  Fortunately, it’s not up to me to decide whether they are or not.  That’s God’s business.

It’s getting less and less popular to believe that the Bible is adequate to be our guide.  Our culture sees it as outdated and jaded in its content.  Folks like to pick out a phrase and use it as proof text that the whole of scripture has outlived its usefulness.  But, my guess is that most will adhere to much of the Ten Commandments to largely shape their moral compass because they see the value of the relational “do-nots:”

  1. Do not murder.
  2. Do not commit adultery.
  3. Do not steal.
  4. Do not give false testimony.
  5. Do not covet – envy – what others have which you do not have.

Just about any crime against another falls under one of these categories..

There are five more Commandments, though.

  1. Have no other gods before Me – the Lord your God!
  2. Have no idols which you honor and worship instead of Me – the Lord your God!
  3. Do not misuse the name of God in any form – use it in a way which dishonors the Lord your God!.
  4. Take a Sabbath Day – a day of holy rest.
  5. Honor your parents.

Jesus summed up all ten of these in a succinct sentence:  “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind,’ and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Luke 10:27)  I believe that if the “Love your God” part is in place, the “love your neighbor” will also fall into place.

I have the privilege of seeing Drew and his brother and sisters grow up knowing and expressing the love of Jesus, and also have the privilege of praying that they and their peers will grow in their knowledge of Him, learning discernment as they face all sorts of opposition to their beliefs.

Oh yes, have you noticed that when folks are so vitriolic in their criticism of Christians’ intolerance that they are practicing the intolerance they are criticizing?  Just a thought.

 

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