Tolerant, of What?

Submitted April 26, 2013

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Tolerance is a word we hear constantly. It’s applied to anti-bullying in schools, equal rights and anti-discrimination. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s project Teaching Tolerance provides teachers with ideas and materials for teaching these principles in their classrooms. Not only do such projects exist for grade school, but there are also countless organizations, groups and companies that support various aspects of the tolerance movement.

On the surface, it seems like a noble cause. Tolerance even makes sense for Christians to support, and some unquestioningly do so.

Certainly, God doesn’t want a society that allows for bullying and inequality. His Way doesn’t have room for these destructive behaviors. Under his plan all human beings will have the opportunity to receive eternal life.

So why is the tolerance movement something Christians should resist?

A Virtue or Sin?

The teaching of tolerance is supposed to be one of respect and equal opportunity. That’s what makes it confusing for Christians when tolerance goes overboard.

Obviously, it’s wrong for children to be bullied at school no matter what their race or family background. Nor is discrimination based on race, gender, or religion justifiable either. The problem with this movement, however, is that teaching tolerance is also used to teach the acceptance of homosexuality and other sinful lifestyles. Mixed in with a basic respect for our fellow human beings is the tolerance and acceptance of sin. This is unacceptable.

God tells us clearly in both the Old and New Testaments that homosexuality is a sin. In the book of Leviticus God says, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination (Leviticus:18:22).” As we move forward into the New Testament, the book of 1 Corinthians gives a list of the unrighteous who will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians:6:9). Among many sins included is that of those who actively live a homosexual lifestyle.

Does this mean that we should hate those that practice homosexuality? Or that God hates the individuals who have committed sin? No!

God hates sin, absolutely, and everyone sins (Romans:3:23). What He doesn’t want is for us to continue to live in sin (of any kind) and be tolerant of sinful lifestyles. He wants us to repent. In the book of Luke, Jesus Christ stated, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance,” (Luke:5:32).

Trade tolerance for righteousness

It can be very hard to fight against the misuse of tolerance because as Christians, we want to be accepted and not discriminated against for our beliefs. That doesn’t mean we can show wholesale support for the tolerance cause, though.

Good teaching mixed with bad teaching is how rat poison is made. 90% of rat poison is not harmful. It’s the small percentage of poison the rats eat along with the edible part that kills them. False teaching is the same. Most of the teaching will be acceptable but a small part will be deadly.

More and more individuals are adopting the tolerance cause and their voices are getting louder and harder to avoid. The Bible may seem out of date, and cruel to them. But thousands of years ago, the Christian leader named Paul instructed the church at Corinth to deal with similar issues. He challenged his congregation to leave behind their sinful life choices, some of which included homosexual as well as heterosexual sin, and become a new creation, formed with the help of God.

Paul taught about a God who is stern, and intolerant of sin, but Who also loves people and wants true happiness for them, built on a system of law that leads to truth.

So what kind of tolerance can we afford to accept?

We should tolerate truth, justice, righteousness, obedience and outgoing love. These can’t fail! 

Blog posts do not undergo review by the doctrinal review team of the United Church of God. This post represents the personal opinion of the author and should not be considered the official stance of the United Church of God. If you have any questions or concerns please direct them to


geekay's picture

Where in the bible is homosexuality described as a sin? Most people who have faith in God ( or profess to) or have some knowledge of His word or Law (or think they do) think the bible lists this practice and its associated life-styles as sin. An abomination and other expressions about acting contrary to nature are how this is expressed in my bible, KJV.
We are to study to show ourselves approved as adopted children of God, line upon line, precept upon precept, line upon line, precept upon precept and when we do this there is no room for assuming what the word says about anything. The Ten Commandments not only reveal what sin is, they also show us how to live now we have been washed of our past sin in the blood of Jesus. Homosexuality and associated lifestyles are totally contrary to creation but those who practice such things can repent of them and find grace in God's eyes.


cshude's picture

Although you are correct in saying that the Bible doesn't call homosexuality a sin in those exact words, I do find it interesting that there are those who then say that the Bible doesn't condemn the practice. To call something an abomination is to define it as something monstrous, an atrocity. It is a strong condemnation.

However, something that far too many people overlook is the fact that ALL sin has the same penalty: death. Whether it is homosexuality or a "little white lie", the end result is the same. Maankind loves to talk about "the gray area" and "nuance", but God has defined sin and righteousness in black and white terms. There is no compromise with sin.

In specific regards to homosexuality being defined as a sin, you can look at the seventh commandment. "You shall not commit adultery". Adultery is any sexual thoughts or activity that is not with one's spouse (specifically marriage between one man and one woman). This covers premarital sex, extramarital sex, homosexuality, fantasization (pornography) and anything else that is outside the confines for which God created sex.

You are absolutely correct in your closing statement- the key is repentance- as it is for ALL sinful practices- to TURN AWAY and to stop doing that which will leads to death, and to turn towards God's prescription for life.

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