Christians are often chided as being 'intolerant', which is, of course, absolute rubbish. The evidence most often cited seems to deal with their stances on social issues such as abortion or gay marriage (note: this is not going to be about either of these issues). Because of the religious convictions held by the Christian community which inform their social outlook, they are labeled 'intolerant'. This label is only issued by the fool, the biased, and the uneducated. It can, should, and will be argued that in this world, there is no group of people more tolerant than those who profess Christ as their Lord and Savior. I would suggest that Christians are, in truth, tolerant to a fault. So much of what has become accepted as socially normal, commonplace, and even virtuous in truth stands in stark contrast and total opposition to the teachings of Christ and the church, and in many sad cases has even found a home therein.
If anything, Christians are not an accepting people. It must be said without minced words that Christ called His own to be neither accepting nor tolerant, if that which we are accepting or tolerating is sin. He called us to be merciful, which we strive to be. He told us to forgive those who sin against us, which we do not do as well as we could, but we do our best. He never told us to turn a blind eye to the actions of those who willingly sin. We are told that if we see a brother caught in sin we are to pull him out of the mire (Gal. 6.1). Above all, He called those who would follow Him to love, and placed a particular emphasis on loving those with whom we disagree. After all, it was Christ who said that it is easy to love those who love us, for even the sinner loves their own (Lk. 6.32).
Tolerance is not acceptance, and neither is acceptance tolerance. Tolerance is active disagreement and voluntary inaction. It is appeasement, and nothing more. Tolerance is the laying down of arms in the face of that with which one disagrees, a willing submission in an effort to avoid further conflict or confrontation. It is, in essence, the mentality of living to fight another day, though by so doing the threshold of what one is willing to tolerate is often pushed further and further back with each instance. Acceptance, on the other hand, is the full resignation to the notion that the situation is beyond one's control, and is often the result of tolerance which is never faced with “a line in the sand.” I accept that unlike the birds, I cannot fly. I accept that unlike the fish, I cannot breathe under water. Acceptance is the willing admittance that something is bigger than one believes themselves capable of handling.
Take, for example, one of the more significant events in the run-up to World War II. Chamberlain had just returned from his meeting with Hitler in Munich, at which he agreed to give away the Sudetenland to the Nazi’s with the hopes that doing so would persuade Hitler to dial down his aggression on the continent. Churchill pointed out that Chamberlain had two options in dealing with Hitler: shame or war. He famously remarked, “He chose shame for now. He’ll get war later.”
Christians are called ‘intolerant’ because they refuse to accept the social movements that go against what they believe – abortion, same-sex marriage, and the like. If we believe that life begins at conception, that abortion is therefore wrong, we are thus labeled "intolerant. If we believe that marriage is between one man and one woman, we are accordingly labeled "intolerant." It seems clear to me that were Christians intolerant of such acts, there would be a few more stories in the news about actions taken against those who commit or support these and other such actions.
And yet, such stories do not abound. Not on a wide scale, at least. There is the occasional outlier, but if the Christian church, a body of believers composed of more than 2 billion people around the globe, is characterized or otherwise represented by the misguided and sinful acts of a few, then we are all guilty of something, both the believer and the non-believer.
Christians tolerate these societal evils to a fault, and they do so precisely because of the vitriol and scorn heaped on them when they even begin to speak their beliefs. Upon Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem on His way to the Cross, how did He enter the Temple? Did he enter as the jolly, smiling Jesus so often portrayed in children’s picture Bibles? No! He did not greet the money changers with a smile, but with a righteous anger as He overturned their tables. He saw a perversion of something pure, and he made it known that this was evil and wrong. How would our contemporary world respond if such righteous anger was displayed in response to the things that Christians are so "intolerant" of today? Christians are not accepting, nor should they be! To accept what our world has become, and to accept the direction it continues to move in would be to tell Christ that we no longer follow Him, that He no longer holds a claim to our lives.
The world we live in is often a sad, dark place. We have, quite willingly, lost our way. We have exchanged the wisdom that has for so long guided the best among us, for the foolish ideologies that can only trace their origins to the minds of man. This is why Christ came to this world, whether you believe it or not. Christ came to seek the lost, to heal the sick, to comfort the lonely. Isn’t this the world we live in? Lost, sick, and lonely? We have a rock on which to build our home. We have a high and strong tower in which to seek refuge. It is Christ alone who offers us the safety and comfort we so desperately crave, and we are fools to reject it.