Tolerance is a Family ValueJuly 22, 2007 — Deacon Duncan
In the foreword to I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, David Limbaugh complains:
Liberal secularists insist that tolerance is the highest virtue. But they don’t tell you what they mean by “tolerance.” To them, tolerance doesn’t simply involve treating those with different ideas respectfully and civilly. It means affirming their ideas as valid, which Christians can’t do without renouncing their own beliefs. If for example, you subscribe to the biblical prohibition on homosexual behavior as sinful, you cannot at the same time affirm that such behavior is not sinful.
That kinda sets the tone for this book, doesn’t it? David’s job is to introduce the topic of Christian apologetics, so right away he kicks things off with biased and inaccurate innuendo against “liberal secularists.”
For example, you might think from David’s remarks, that the correct definition of “tolerance” would be something about “treating those with different ideas respectfully and civilly.” After all, he faults liberals for failing to define tolerance this way, so you’d think that would mean that they ought to. So let’s take his example: homosexuality. Do Christians treat homosexuals respectfully and civilly? When people try to pass constitutional amendments denying homosexuals the freedom to marry the ones they love, do Christians stand up and protest that this is disrespectful and a violation of civil rights?
Liberals, especially secular liberals, don’t insist that everybody has to agree that all ideas are equally valid. That would be silly, and would be a denial of the fact that objective reality gives us an infallible standard for distinguishing real-world truth from mere opinions and/or falsehoods. What liberals insist is simply that, in matters of personal opinions and values, everyone is equally entitled to their own views, provided of course that they do not infringe upon the rights of others. David’s twisting of the liberal position is designed to create an unflattering straw man he can use to try and make liberals look intolerant and hypocritical.
The tolerance peddlers are further exposed as frauds when you consider that they simply will not practice what they preach–at least toward those annoyingly stubborn Christians. They are absolutely unwilling to “tolerate” the Christian premise that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. For them to acknowledge this would necessarily refute their concept of tolerance, which holds that all ideas are of equal merit.
Now think about this. The “correct” definition of tolerance, according to David, is when you treat your opponents respectfully and civilly. When it comes to “tolerating” Christians, however, David demands much more than respect and civility. Liberals don’t count as “tolerating” Christians unless and until they “acknowledge” that Jesus Christ really is “The Way, The Truth and The Life.”
Notice the hypocrisy. Liberals don’t insist that Christians become homosexuals in order to be tolerant of homosexuality, but David insist that liberals must effectively become conservative Christians, or else they are “frauds” who fail to practice what they preach in regards to tolerance. “Christians’ belief…doesn’t make them intolerant of others,” writes David–at least, as long as others bow down to Christianity as the one true religion. Never mind the fact that liberals like the ACLU defend Christians’ right to proclaim their beliefs. No, they don’t count as “tolerating” Christianity unless they admit that it really is the One True Faith.
This is Christian supermacist thinking. To the Christian supremacist, his faith deserves to have supremacy above all other points of view, and anything less than that is an attack against the Christian faith. Homosexuals don’t deserve to be treated respectfully and civilly (the supremacist thinks) because their way of life is contrary to Christianity, and thus illegitimate. Christianity cannot be criticized because that implies that it is not supremely true. Etc.
All this so-called “intolerance” and “oppression” of Christians really boils down to this: liberals don’t think that the government should be mandating the supremacy of the Christian faith over all other views. In a tolerant society, Christians should be free to preach and proclaim their religious beliefs (including the belief that homosexuality is sinful), and homosexuals should be free to proclaim their belief that homophobia and persecution of homosexuals is wrong and is a civil rights violation. And apart from this rhetoric, people should mind their own business. Homosexuals should not be forced to behave like Christians in their private personal lives, and Christians should not be required to behave like homosexuals in their private lives.
This is what it means to live in a tolerant, pluralistic society. Tolerance–the ability to work together and live together in harmony despite individual differences–is a family value, and one our society badly needs to recover.