Righteous Intolerance – Part One
We have heard forever “You cannot legislate morality.” Sure you can. Unfortunately, this is heard most often when certain segments of society want to change the definition of various moralities. When a desire for something or some behavior is so intense, those who desire it feel it should be a right or an entitlement. There is a groundswell to move the line of demarcation for what we deem to be “right.” Or as some would put it, we agree to “lower the bar.”
Most intelligent people realize all laws are (or should be) moral laws. Murder, rape, assault, theft, arson, child abuse and so forth are all immoral. Society has developed a set of laws to assist us to live together in harmony in a civil way. However, many laws are often passed, repealed or changed in the name of progress, because we have become enlightened, or we now pretend to understand it is a “victimless crime”.
Society is often at odds with itself and its morality. Every week we see the mug shot of yet another teacher who had an inappropriate relationship with a student (edited for family content), or a child pornography sex offender being hauled off in an orange jump suit. Yet, the entertainment industry will glorify teen sex(uality) in movies and other media, (as in “American Pie” and others). If looking at or participating in the real thing is “wrong,” shouldn’t the simulated portrayal of those acts be prohibited?
In much the same way, the “N” word is not tolerated by society as a pejorative, nor should it be. However, it does get used in a cultural context for entertainment, (see movies and hip hop) or in the familiar vernacular of kinship.
Recreational marijuana is now legal in some states, and others have “medicinal” stores where you can fill your script, (wink wink). Look, the only people who want smoking pot to be legal are pot smokers, and those who would become wealthy selling to pot smokers. I don’t know very many people who would buy a bag for their teenager.
For decades, law enforcement has turned a blind nose at concerts, and no one has their home raided for their private box in the closet. We don’t have time to go into all the reasons it is wrong, but smoking pot is wrong. Just like adultery is wrong and just like abortion as a form of birth control is wrong, just like strip clubs are wrong, just like drunk driving is wrong. Legal does not have to equate to an embracing or even tolerant attitude.
Just because something is legal does not mean we have to participate in it. I once heard a nice quote attributed to those things which would lead us astray or cause us to suffer pain and loss through negative consequences. “Self discipline is giving up what you want right now, so you can have what you want most”.
My 18 year old son shed some light on this the other day during a conversation on morality and how far our Christian compassion should go towards the behavior of others. As Christians, we are actually called to be intolerant. We are also called to be Christlike. Jesus did not tolerate sin. “Go forth and sin no more” He tells us. God tells us to “Be Holy, for I am Holy”. No where does the Bible tell us to seek the lusts of our hearts and the desires of our flesh.
My son reminded me we will be called out. When someone is critical about the observations we make concerning their lifestyles, and declares “You are not my judge,” we need to agree with them and help them understand how very right they are. But they also need to understand, God IS their judge and of that, they should be very afraid. All too often, they are not even concerned.
Our “Righteous Intolerance” is not about feeling spiritually superior in any way. It is actually a recognition of the sin in our own lives. Recently, our nation has been compared to the fallen Roman empire. Rom. 3:21-26 says, “But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say,of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
The Apostle Peter also challenges us as Christians to be prepared for these times. 1 Pet 3:8-17 says, “to sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. for,“the one who desires life, to love and see good days,must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit.“he must turn away from evil and do good;he must seek peace and pursue it.“for the eyes of the lord are toward the righteous, and his ears attend to their prayer,but the face of the lord is against those who do evil.”who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? but even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. and do not fear their intimidation,and do not be troubled,but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. for it is better, if god should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.”
When Christians have had a gut full of unrighteousness in this country, and we start cleaning our own houses, I hope we will demonstrate a righteous intolerance with love and grace. Are you ready to make a defense for the hope that is within you?