Archives For tolerance

Culture, Media and Morality/Truth

Greg Strand – May 20, 2013 1 Comment

A couple of weeks ago the major news in the professional sports world was the announcement made in an essay in Sports Illustrated by veteran professional basketball player Jason Collins that he is gay. The response from fellow professional basketball players, the media and even President Obama was that he was a hero. Making this statement, these people claimed, took great courage, and because of this they were proud of him. They stood with him in support and solidarity.

Sometimes it is best to let the dust settle just a bit on these sorts of announcements as it can give some time, distance and perspective. This is why I address this issue now.

Shortly after this was disclosed a cartoonist for the Chicago Tribune attempted to capture the sentiment of the response, and contrasted it with the disclosure of being a Christian. In the one caption, Tim Tebow confesses his faith in Christ, “I’m Christian.” A media person, a bit scornfully, replies, “Keep it to yourself.” The second picture is of Jason Collins who confesses, “I’m gay.” To this the media response is “Tell me MORE, you big hero!!!”

Chris Broussard, longtime ESPN basketball analyst, was asked how he regarded Collins’ claim to be a Christian and a sexually active gay man. Broussard, who affirmed Collins as a “great guy”, responded publicly on the air with the following:

I’m a Christian. I don’t agree with homosexuality. I think it’s a sin, as I think all sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is. …If you’re openly living that type of lifestyle, the Bible says you know them by their fruits, it says that’s a sin. If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals, whatever it may be, I think that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ. I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I don’t think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian.

To this, the response was anything but accepting and tolerant. Broussard was referred to as a “bigot,” he was accused of being “intolerant” and “homophobic,” and he was criticized for being “irrelevant,” and much worse.

As one compares the responses to these two announcements, there are few to none comparisons but only – and many – contrasts.

There is a cultural conformist mindset which this exemplifies. If one looks at our culture and the cultural stream, the conformist mindset made Collins’ announcement the easier of the two. Broussard’s response was counter-cultural, a non-cultural conformist response, which explains the strong and negative backlash he experienced.

This is another one of those indicators and reminders that we live in a postmodern and an increasingly post-Christian day, which is evidenced not only in the acceptance of Collins’ announcement and how he is praised for it, but also in the response against those who do not.

Living faithfully as Christians in this changing culture will be the focus of our 2014 Theology Conference. This sort of cultural conformist mindset and its implications will be one of a number of subjects we will address. Please put the dates on your calendar and plan to attend!

Ask for Tolerance

Greg Strand – November 12, 2012 3 Comments

If there is any near universal virtue in the United States today it is tolerance. But it is a very different notion of tolerance from past days. Previously, in debates people would be intolerant of beliefs but tolerant of people. There was truth about which they were debating, but they were tolerant and civil to one another as they debated which belief was true.

Today this has reversed such that people are tolerant of beliefs, but intolerant of people. What one generally finds is that those who are the loudest and strongest proponents of tolerance are often the most intolerant when it comes to beliefs, particularly those who embrace beliefs in the form of absolute truth.

One last thought. The very notion of tolerance is predicated on differences, that is, if there were no differences of opinion, thought or belief, there would be no need for tolerance.

Below you will read a tip from apologist Greg Koukl, Stand to Reason, when encountering situations in which you, because of your beliefs, may be considered intolerant. He suggests using the claim of being intolerant in reverse, an insightful and wise response that addresses the possible accusation proactively rather than reactively.

If you’re placed in a situation where you suspect your convictions will be labeled intolerant, bigoted, narrow-minded, and judgmental, turn the tables. When someone asks for your personal views about a moral issue—homosexuality, for example—preface your remarks with a question.

You say: “You know, this is actually a very personal question you’re asking, and I’d be glad to answer. But before I do, I want to know if you consider yourself a tolerant person or an intolerant person. Is it safe to give my opinion, or are you going to judge me for my point of view? Do you respect diverse ideas, or do you condemn others for convictions that differ from yours?” Let them answer. If they say they’re tolerant (which they probably will), then when you give your point of view it’s going to be very difficult for them to call you intolerant or judgmental without looking guilty, too.

This response capitalizes on the fact that there’s no morally neutral ground. Everybody has a point of view they think is right and everybody judges at some point or another. The Christian gets pigeon-holed as the judgmental one, but everyone else is judging, too. It’s an inescapable consequence of believing in any kind of morality.

Greg Koukl, “Ask for Tolerance,” Stand to ReasonBlog (September 20, 2012)

cf. D. A. Carson, The Intolerance of Tolerance (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012)

In mid-April in Seattle the National High School Journalism Conference sponsored by the Journalism Education Association (JEA) and the National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA) held their annual Convention, “Journalism on the Edge.”  Dan Savage was invited to give the keynote address on the topic of bullying.

Though the intent was to address the important issue of bullying, what those in attendance received was a model of how to bully. It was sad. Savage began the It Gets Better Project two years ago, which encourages young people struggling with same-sex attraction to embrace homosexuality now, with the assurance that it will get better as they get older. He used this lecture as a bully-pulpit to attack Christians and the Bible.

If you watch the video, be forewarned – it does contain some questionable language.

Savage shortly after this bullying tirade at this anti-bullying lecture apologized if he “hurt anyone’s feelings,” but it was stated sarcastically and was another model, this time of an unapologetic apology.

Here are some of the responses to Savage’s message.

Karla Dial, “Students Walk Out on Dan Savage,” CitizenLink (April 18, 2012)

Joe Carter, “Anti-Bullying Speaker Attacks Bible, Christian Teens” (April 30, 2012)

Denny Burk, “Who is Dan Savage?” (April 30, 2012)

Eric Metaxas, “A Savage Attack: Redefining Bullying,” Breakpoint (May 8, 2012)

I conclude with two brief thoughts.

First, this is as blatant an example of the “intolerance of tolerance” as you will hear.

Second, how we respond is critical. We are too often tempted to respond in the same manner, and we feel justified in doing so. But we must not. This does not mean we do not respond. This does not mean we do not stand firmly on truth over against both what Savage said and the manner in which he said it. What this means is that we respond in truth and we respond in the manner of having been transformed by that gospel truth. Or with Jesus as our example as the One who is full of grace and truth (Jn. 1:14), we seek, by the power and through the presence of the Holy Spirit, to live and respond in like manner – full of grace and truth.