The Grammy awards are the most prestigious and recognizable music award in the industry. Recently, however, a show about music became a political and ideological statement. During one performance of a song about the nature of love, and how it takes different forms, and people cannot help whom they love, a group of homosexual couples (and a few straight couples) actually got married in the aisles during the performance. While intended to be a statement about the legitimacy of gay marriage, in reality, it was a throw-it-in-your-face, deal-with-it pronunciation.
Of course any public criticism of this event would be harshly condemned in the name of the new buzz word of our society: tolerance. People who do not welcome and receive this statement from these musicians would be labeled intolerant and bigoted. Are we as Christians guilty of being intolerant if we do not support gay marriage?
First, I would say that we have to define ‘tolerance.’ The classical definition of tolerance is to “accept the existence of different views.” To that definition, Christians are tolerant. We accept the fact that different views of marriage exist. However, our society has redefined what tolerance really means. Now, tolerance means “accepting different views.” While you may not catch the small difference, the implications are massive. The first definition acknowledges other people’s rights to different views, but the second definition makes us no longer allowed to disagree. Christians are told they must no longer disagree with other people’s opinions, that they must accept all opinions, or else they are not ‘tolerant.’ I would say Christians can tolerate other views on gay marriage according to the first definition. We must acknowledge that other views of marriage exist, and people have the right to hold those views, but we are still allowed to disagree with those views.
Second, notice the huge inconsistencies of those who claim Christians are ‘intolerant.’ Are supporters of gay marriage really accepting of all views of ‘love?’ What about pedophilia, bestiality, or polygamy? Do gay marriage supporters accept those different views too, or would they be ‘intolerant’ of such definitions of love? Also, the statement that Christians should tolerate all views is an inherent contradiction. The people that say that are actually being ‘intolerant’ of the Christian’s views! And they are demanding we conform our beliefs to theirs. Sounds eerily similar to what they accuse Christians of, doesn’t it? Do they not see the contradiction of the values they declare?
In this world of political correctness and ‘tolerance’ I would propose one piece of advice for Christians: be tolerant in spirit, not in mind. Let me explain. First, we should have a tolerating spirit. That means we should be able to hear people out, we should be able to listen respectfully, we should love all people, we should evaluate all arguments that oppose us. That is having a tolerating spirit. Christians who are angry, violent, and refuse to listen are not showcasing a tolerating spirit. The Biblical word would be: humble. We should be humble enough to understand it is only God’s grace that keeps us in the Truth and revealed the Truth to us. It is not the genius of our own mind.
But, Christians cannot be tolerant in mind. What I mean is, certain things God has unequivocally declared as ‘wrong’ or ‘right.’ And no matter what the culture says, what the world pushes on us, or how much society has progressed, does not change what God has declared. There are such black and white things that are always wrong. Things like lying, stealing, kidnapping, and even homosexuality, God has declared to be wrong. We cannot let our minds be changed about those things because society disagrees with us. Have a tolerating spirit to hear people out and listen to their disagreements, and acknowledge they have that right. But do not have a tolerating mind, where you let society change how you think about what God has so clearly defined. (For further help on this issue see The Intolerance of Tolerance by D.A. Carson).
Pastor Mark Scialabba