The Intolerance of Tolerance

Angry Nation


Many in our generation hail tolerance as an ideal for which we all must strive.  On a surface level, evangelists of tolerance emphatically declare that we all must accept and respect one another in spite of our differences of opinion.  I completely affirm that respect for all people is a big deal, but is there’s more to their doctrine than just the pursuit of human dignity.


When you look at the battles that are raging in the realm of tolerance, and when you listen to the messages of these “intolerant tolerators,” an obvious question begins to surface:  what is it we are being ordered to tolerate?


Well, here are a few examples:

  • We must tolerate those who choose to engage in homosexual behavior and enter into same-sex marriages.
  • We must tolerate those who choose to kill their own babies while those babies are still in the womb.
  • We must tolerate those who adhere to extreme Islamic ideologies even though those beliefs are causing great harm to millions around the world.


These are just a few bullet points, and certainly there are many more areas where tolerance is demanded.  But these are some of the hotbed issues where we are told we must be tolerant.


I guess what bothers me is that much of what we are being told we must tolerate are positions that are antithetical to biblical Christianity.  It seems that we must be tolerant of all perspectives except for those that are taught in the Bible.  Christianity, then, becomes the one worldview that cannot be tolerated.


I would like to suggest to you that tolerant people are typically not as tolerant as they might like to suggest that they are.  As a matter of fact, they often are only tolerant of people who agree with them, and they can be extraordinarily condemning of those who have differing opinions.  For example, in response to this blog post, I am quite sure I will receive some quite intolerant emails from people who do not want me to share my perspective on this issue.


In line with this, it would seem that “tolerance” has come to mean that we are no longer permitted to say that anything is wrong.


But SOME things are wrong, right?


One of the biggest reasons we have ended up in a world that thinks like this is that very few people submit to the authority of the Bible as the Standard for what is right and wrong.  With no basis for authority regarding right and wrong, we end up in a world where everyone’s opinion is equally “valid.”


“You think that’s wrong?  Well, that’s YOUR opinion.”


The problem here is that, in a world where everyone thinks that everyone’s opinion is equally valid, these opinions are bound to eventually collide.  And when people’s opinions collide, that creates a great deal of tension, anger, and hostility.


So, then, a culture that believes that every person’s opinion is equally valid is destined to become a very angry culture.  And is that not what we see all around us?  Have you ever known a time in your life when there has been more vitriolic rage and hostility than what we see in our current world?


The true struggle in our society, then, is not a lack of tolerance.  The problem is an overabundance of tolerance as a result of a departure from absolute Truth.  The key to diffusing the anger in our generation will not be for us all to become more tolerant but for us to draw more closely to the standards established in the Word of God.


His Word is Truth.  And the Truth will set us free.


Chris Russell

Veritas Church (Cincinnati, OH)


For further reading, growth, and encouragement, check out some of these great sites and blogs:

Kirk Cameron

Bible Study Tools Blogs

Desiring God Blog

The Gospel Coalition Blog

Al Mohler

3 thoughts on “The Intolerance of Tolerance

  1. Amen! Many “Christians” have become so ‘tolerant’ and caved to the PC culture, that much of the Christian faith has become convoluted beyond recognition. It’s time to go back to loving the sinner and hating the sin.

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