Saturday, November 13, 2010

When tolerance isn't necessary

One of the big outcry's in our culture today revolves around tolerance at all cost. Obama recently called for religious tolerance overseas and on a separate occasion while speaking at a 9/11 ceremony. Tolerance is a good thing, but can be used in an undermining way. What I mean is that some believe we should tolerate all things. Should we be tolerant of all views and actions of individuals? The answer is obviously no, because the larger question of what is right and wrong needs to be addressed first.

No one would ever tolerate a known lie, but our society in many ways supposes that we need tolerance above all else. Should we tolerate what is wrong? Recently, Amazon pulled some books dealing with the subject of pedophilia. These books were pulled because of public outcry, but one of the authors defended his book by saying, "This is my attempt to make pedophile situations safer for those juveniles that find themselves involved in them, by establishing certain [sic] rules for these adults to follow... I hope to achieve this by appealing to the better nature of pedosexuals, with hope that their doing so will result in less hatred and perhaps liter sentences should they ever be caught." What is alarming is our culture's willingness to promote tolerance above the question of ethics. If tolerance is to be our sole guide then only those in charge will have a say as to what the rest of society must accept.

What about religious tolerance? While it is true that we need to tolerate all religions, it must be understood that not all religions are true. Looking at the myriad of religions around the world it is possible that one of them could be true, but certainly not all of them. Christian apologetics deals with the defence of the Christian worldview (2 Corinthians 10:5). While the Christian is charged with defending and promoting the Christian worldview, this must be done in a loving way and never for the purpose of showing any one up (1 Peter 3:15).

Tolerance is necessary for a civil society, but not in an unrestricted way. In other words, what we tolerate or do not tolerate should be the primary avenue for making decisions. If individuals are constantly told that tolerance usurps all, then aspects of tolerance can become intolerable. The len's by which to view tolerance in society is either an ethical question at heart or it revolves around, "What is truth?"

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