I don’t get excited about the calendar. I don’t regard New Years Day as special. Since I would rather sleep than party, on New Years Eve, I go to bed at the same old time. Do I begrudge of the desires of those who want to party? No. I just pray they won’t drink and drive. Does it bother me that Catholics make January 1st a holy day of obligation? Is not any day a good day for prayer?
The Apostle Paul said we should not get excited and upset about small things.
Romans 14:1-13 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Principles of Conscience
14 Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. 2 One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. 3 The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. 4 Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
5 One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. 7 For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; 8 for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
10 But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For it is written,
“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall give praise to God.”
12 So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.
13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.
Recently I was invited to blog at On the Pilgrim Road (onthepilgrimroad.com), a new website. The authors at this website represent a variety of different Christian denominations. Therefore, I wondered how this would work. When I considered Paul’s words, I decided it could work well. In fact, one of the bloggers explains her switch to Catholicism (here) and another his switch to Lutheranism (here). So several of us at least are personally familiar with another Christian religious tradition besides the one we currently practice.
Tolerance and forbearance are a difficult things, however. The issue is deciding what we should tolerate. This is the best guide I have seen.
Be egalitarian regarding persons.
Be elitist regarding ideas.
Of course we should carefully choose the ideas we believe require us to engage in “elitism”.
An ancient maxim reads, “About matters of taste, there is no disputing,” while another one advises, “About matters of truth, we should engage in dispute.” (from here (focusonthefamily.com))
What ideas relate to matters of taste? What ideas involve truths that Christians are required to care about? I think the crucial test involves this verse.
John 14:15 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
If we love Jesus, we will obey Him. We will believe His Truths, and we will dispute with others in order to protect those truths. Ephesians 6:10-17 tells how to do this, by standing against evil with the sword of the Word.
The world, of course, has its own ideas. The world is man centered, not God centered. Here is what the worldly tell Christians.
Christians are told their beliefs are matters of faith and, therefore, tolerance must override faith. (from here (focusonthefamily.com))
The world confuses tolerance and forbearance. The tolerant person is non judgemental. He does not care. One who forbears, on the other hand, admits that certain behavior is undesirable, but decides to put up with it in spite of his disapproval.
Forbearance is actually more difficult than tolerance. Those who forbear believe what they are putting up with is wrong, but for the sake of a greater good, they tolerate the offender. For the sake of the greater good we have actually included the requirement for forbearance in our Constitution. We don’t allow our government to discriminate based upon race, sex, or creed. Therefore, we can debate religion, but we don’t go to war over our religious differences.
Unfortunately, our government has taken the legal protections against discrimination based upon against race, sex, and creed to next “logical step”, affirmative action (discriminating against certain “majority groups” and men) on behalf of certain “minority groups” and women. Thus, qualifying for affirmative action has become prize. That is, for the sake of the perceived benefits, some people now want to be seen as the “victim” of odious discrimination. Effectively, whether they realize it or not, those who see themselves as victims of discrimination want to use the law to discriminate in return.
Therefore, in addition to being “protected” against discrimination based upon race, sex, and creed, some people want to be “protected” against discrimination based upon age, obesity, disability, gender, national origin, and so forth. The possibilities are huge. With enough ingenuity and determination, we can all participate.
What is the problem here? It appears to be related to something Karl Popper calle the paradox of tolerance.
“The so-called paradox of freedom is the argument that freedom in the sense of absence of any constraining control must lead to very great restraint, since it makes the bully free to enslave the meek. The idea is, in a slightly different form, and with very different tendency, clearly expressed in Plato.
Less well known is the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. — In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.”
Anyway, I guess I am going to have to read The Open Society and Its Enemies this year. That quote is from a footnote, just a footnote.
Here are several different views on the paradox of tolerance.
- On the Paradox of Tolerance (libertarianism.org)
- Does Democracy Demand the Tolerance of the Intolerant? Karl Popper’s Paradox (openculture.com)
- Paradox of tolerance (en.wikipedia.org)
What is Christian Tolerance (or, more appropriately, forbearance)?
- The Bible: The Book that Changed Everything (christianoutlook.com): The basic requirement for liberty is religious freedom, the liberty to worship the God of our choice and exercise our religious freedom. That requires forbearance from each of us.
In this special hour edition, Eric Metaxas speaks with Indian scholar Vishal Mangalwadi about his book titled, “This Book Changed Everything.” They look at how it shaped the idea of democracy and the notions of leadership, how we are indebted to the Bible for our for civility in this cooperative endeavor of democracy, as well as how the Bible shaped the very idea of a nation and America as a nation vis a vis an empire. Metaxas and Mangalwadi finish out the show by discussing how the Bible shaped the West’s idea of what it means to be human.
- Should Christians be tolerant of other people’s religious beliefs? (gotquestions.org)
- What is Christian tolerance? Should Christians be tolerant of other religious beliefs? (compellingtruth.org)
- Discrimination (plato.stanford.edu): This is from an encyclopedia of philosophy. Interesting to see what discrimination looks like to philosophers and compare that to Christian tolerance.
The big tolerance debate in our era is over LGBT rights. Here is a random selection of stories.
- I thought gay rights were safe. Now I know I was wrong. (washingtonpost.com): Keep in mind this is The Washington Post. The author wants LGBT rights to be safe.
- There’s a problem with the LGBT rights movement – it’s limiting freedom (theconversation.com): Here is a quote from the article.
This urge for assimilation into arrangements such as marriage and the right to have children are, in some ways, problematic. These pursuits prompt several questions. Is it necessarily true, say, that these new rights have produced more freedom for all members of these once marginalised and maligned sexual minorities? I’m not so sure. Can true freedom and humanity be acquired through the mimicking of heterosexual lives? And do heterosexuals think their lives are worth mimicking, given how marriage has become increasingly unappealing and replaced by less formal arrangements?
- Is it wrong to be LGBT? (debate.org): The “debate” is parody.
- 10 Reasons Why Homosexual “Marriage” is Harmful and Must be Opposed (tfpstudentaction.org): This is the work of a Catholic youth organization.
- Bravo to the Truth: What’s Wrong with Transgender Ideology (thepublicdiscourse.com)
- Transgender Ideology Is Riddled With Contradictions. Here Are the Big Ones. (heritage.org)
Note: I have also posted this article at On the Pilgrim Road. That does not constitute an endorsement of the views posted at On the Pilgrim Road by the Prince William – Manassas Family Alliance and vice versa. I just thought the material appropriate to both blogs.