Thursday, July 26, 2012

What To Do With Tolerance-Part 2

Last week I wrote part 1 of What To Do With Tolerance based on the recent media hubub surrounding Chick-fil-A and the comments made by its President, Dan Cathy. If you didn't get a chance to see Part 1 you can read it here.  I ended it with several questions for the Christians who are left out in society when these things happen.  Let's look for answers for those questions now.

#1.  Is it really intolerant of us to believe what the Bible says is true and try to live it everyday? 
The short answer to this is, no.  Beliefs are our own to choose.  Obviously, there are some in this world that don't believe in God, don't believe in Jesus, and don't believe in the Bible.  There are others of us who do believe in all of the above.  Simply believing different things from each other is not intolerance.  The simple equivalent is when a husband belives Dr. Pepper is the best tasting soda and his wife believes that Diet Coke is the best tasting soda.  Neither is being intolerant of the other one's beliefs. They are simply expressing what their conclusions are based on their personal experiences (even though I agree wholeheartedly with the fictional husband in this example).  Intolerance comes about when a person or a group of people absolutely refuse to tolerate the people who don't believe what they believe.  The definition of the word tolerate is to allow the existence, presence, practice, or act of without prohibition or hindrance; permit.  By definition, Christians are expected to accept the unacceptable as Jesus did on Earth and still does from Heaven. It is possible to be friends with homosexuals and still be a Christian.  We must give up the notion that we have the change the outward behavior of others to allow them in our lives or in our churches.  As Christians, we've often been accused of being intolerant because we are so quick to pronounce judgment on those who are in bondage.  Jesus was and is our greatest example to follow on how to treat sinners.  If you read through the four Gospels, you will see that Jesus was invited to the parties of the religious and societal outcasts.  He didn't just wander into their parties unnoticed-He was invited there! Obviously, there was a magnetism about Him-or maybe a spirit of non-judgment-that attracted people to Him. The only people that Jesus ever got furious with were the religious leaders of the day who refused to show people grace and mercy and instead hung the law around their necks. 
#2.  Is it wrong of us to express our beliefs and try to influence society?
I think the answer is found in how we express our believes and influence society rather than IF we express our beliefs.  Again, so many of the labels we've been assigned by the world have come because of how we have treated the people who are caught in bondage and sin.  Christ came and changed the world upside down in his time here on Earth.  I tend to agree with Jesus when He states that we are to be salt and light in Matthew chapter 5:13-16.  The Great Commission also tells us to go out into the world.  It seems as though Jesus is telling us "it's not only okay to influence society, its a command!"
 #3.  Is the Bible outdated in its principles and commands? 
The Bible does say multiple times that homosexuality is a sin. However, it also says that adultery (which Jesus defines as simply looking at someone lustfully!), fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, hatred, contentions, jealousy, outbursts of wrath, selfishness, dissensions, envy, murder, drunkenness (Galatians 5:19-21); and anger, wrath, malice, filthy language, and lying (Colossians 3:8-9) and the inability to bridle one's tongue (James 1:26) are also all sins that God takes very seriously.  I think over the years, Christians have done a great and wonderful and awesome job of removing the speck in the homosexual's eyes while leaving a big huge gaping two by four plank in their own.  Re-read that sentence.  The Bible doesn't give us wiggle room.  It tells us that gossipping is an abomination to Him.  It doesn't just stop at the list I gave above (which is a very small, incomplete list).  How many of us have protested homosexuality while laying on the couch all day Saturday, gorging ourselves on 4 dozen Krispy Kremes and watching adult movies On Demand and then attending church on Sunday morning to hear the pastor "stick it to all those liberal freaks"?  In chapter 5 of 1 John it says that you can only love God as much as the person that you love the least.  My point is this, the Bible is not outdated.  It is incredibly updated and current and relevant---so relevant in fact that we should refuse to take one specific sin and target the people who are committing it. 
#4.  How should Christians and Christian churches treat those who are living the homosexual lifestyle?
I stated earlier that Jesus was a partier.  He was invited to the parties of the most social down and out people. We've all had parties before---and we've all had parties where we can't wait for the people from our Sunday School classes to leave so that we can start to have some fun!  They loved Him. They wanted to be around Him. Christ has commanded us to go out into the world, not to beg it to come into our church.  Jesus gave us the answer to how we treat those who are caught in their sin--with love and grace and mercy because that is what the Father has continually shown us.  Too often we want to "fix" people.  We want to give them a process and steps for them to follow so that they can be brought to church and "get saved".  It doesn't work like that. Jesus didn't work like that.  In the Bible, the only people you'll ever find Jesus judging and being harsh with is the self-promoted religious elite.  He had compassion on those who were broken by their sin.  It is a good example to follow.  I am not saying they should be put in church leadership. The Bible has clear cut qualifications for those who desire or are called to be in church leadership. But they should be allowed in the church body.  The same way that you and I continue the process of being transformed (Romans 12:2) from our "socially acceptable sins" by going to church, hearing the Word of God, and surrounding ourselves with godly friends and counsel, the homosexuals need this too.  And we will not see a revival or repentance until we allow them in our churches and in our lives as people to love instead of things to fix.

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