The 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:
- Tolerance: the power or capacity of enduring; the endurance of the presence or actions of objectionable persons, or of the expression of offensive opinions.
- 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:
- Ultimate child molestation – abortion at all stages.
- Human trafficking and rape – coercing someone to go beyond what they want, particularly in sexual areas.
- 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.
- 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.”