John 7:7 "The world cannot hate you; but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil."
I wouldn’t say I’m a devoted Duck Dynasty follower. I am actually amazed a simple show about a family is so insanely popular. But my favorite part of the show is the very end, when the family is gathered around the dining room table and they pray and thank the Lord for their day, food and family. That is something rare in today’s mainstream media – allowing God some air time.
But we learned this week that there is only so much our postmodern American culture will tolerate when it comes to Christian freedom of speech. Voicing your personal biblical opinion on what is and is not sin seems to target Christians today as violators of the cultural police’s biggest sin of all: intolerance. Why can’t people on both sides of an issue have the freedom to openly debate their viewpoints without one’s opinion being labeled hatred or intolerant? To answer that question, we need to look at where we are today as a nation.
America is going through a major cultural shift. We have moved from a world of absolutes and objectivity, to one of relativism and tolerance. The greatest commandment in postmodern America is "thou shalt tolerate one another". It seems as though tolerance has become so important that no exception is tolerated. And that’s what got Phil Robertson in trouble. It’s not just A&E. It’s our culture. Phil spoke his opinion, as an objective truth claim he holds which originates from the Bible.
What is an ‘objective’ truth? It does not depend upon the situation, culture, or any other factor. It is true even if nobody believes it to be true. An example of an objective truth is that the sun shines. It does not need anything to affirm it in order for it to be true. And the existence of objective truths is one of the bedrocks of Christianity. It is because of the objective truth of the atonement that you and I can have access to God. It is because of the objective truth that God created us that we exist. There is no room for relativity in these matters. We defend many of these objective truths at all costs.
But Jesus warns Christians in John 7:7 that when you stand personally on a biblical truth claim, you will be singled out and hated because He is hated by the world. Interesting. So when you as a Christian are called a hater because you stand on an objective, biblical truth claim, Jesus says it’s actually the ones making the accusation who are doing the hating. And even more, Jesus says it’s not a hatred toward you. That hatred is directed toward Him. You are in the firing line because you have chosen to identify with Him.
I think the real issue Christians must come to grips with is what does postmodern America mean by "tolerate"? Do they mean the same as the American Heritage Dictionary’s definition of what it means to tolerate: "To allow without prohibiting or opposing; to permit"? Does our culture simply mean that if I have a neighbor who adheres to a belief system other than mine, that I am supposed to live at peace with him, not prohibiting or oppressing him? If this is the case, I agree.
But this is not what typical postmoderns mean when they cry for "tolerance." They are not asking people to simply tolerate and get along with the opposing belief. The fact is that they are asking people to compromise their beliefs. They are asking me to concede that my neighbor’s beliefs are just as true as mine, to forfeit my notion of objectivity, and to surrender my view of exclusivism.
The result would accomplish nothing less than to render a death blow to my belief in biblical truth. What they are implying when they push their definition of "tolerance" is that people should never stand up for their beliefs, if standing up for them means stating that their beliefs are the only true beliefs—that they are exclusive. So in the specific case of Phil Robertson, A&E is responding to a cultural mandate. Our culture is not asking people to tolerate homosexuality, but to change our belief that homosexuality is wrong for everyone.
By tolerance, the postmodern means that we compromise the objectivity of God’s Word. By tolerance, the postmodern also cries for us to stop reaching out to others with the exclusive gospel of Jesus Christ. By tolerance, the postmodern demands that we approve of their lifestyles. By tolerance, the postmodern is essentially asking us to give up our faith. This a Christian cannot do and still be a follower of Christ
Ed Croteau is a resident of Lee’s Summit and hosts a weekly study in Lees Summit called "Faith: Substance and Evidence." He can be reached with your questions through the Lee’s Summit Tribune at Editor@lstribune.net.