Religious ~ Toleration, Freedom, Intolerance
The term 'Religious Toleration' has come to be a household phrase almost unheard of a few years back. So what about this is causing such distaste among people.
Society defines 'Religious Toleration' to be the accepting or permitting of other's religious beliefs and practices which disagree with one's own.
Under the umbrella of Religious Freedom is the right of an individual to believe, practice, and promote the religion of their choice without interference, harrassment, or percussion; as long as those beliefs do not break the law of the government of that country. Persecution then is considered the practice of discouraging religious freedom of expression including discrimination and harassment. Historically, toleration has been a contentious issue between religions of different faiths.
Also it is to be considered that a person has a Religious Intolerance, not only if one refuses to acknowledge; but also if one does not support the right of individuals to have their own beliefs and related practices.
Religious Tolerance becomes such a big issue here in our country because of the variety of people and cultures from all over the world.
Lets look at a few verses from the Bible and then some remarks after that:
Rom. 1:24~32 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil–mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.
1 Cor. 6:9~11 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
Gal. 5:19~21 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Rev. 21:7~8 He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
When you consider the common theme of the things that God hates in these verses you see that those that have not been born again, those that do not have a relationship with God; based on the Bible, are also those that basically practice these things and will not enter into Heaven. Society generally is not tolerant toward someone who murders another person regardless of their beliefs; but when it comes to many of the other things listed above in the verses that God is not tolerant of, we are considered intolerant if we don't embrace these.
We see that God loves the sinner as in Rom. 5:8 'But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us; and also in John 3:16 'For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.'
We see both that even though God hates sin and won't allow sin into Heaven; He loves the sinner who He invites to come to Him in repentance of their sin. We as Christians are also to hate sin while loving the sinner and point them to Jesus who is the only one that can save them.
Now it is true that we should not hate another person regardless of the sin that they practice and condone (from verses above); but we are to love them, not cast them aside, not persecute or harass them. God loves them, Jesus died for all sinners, though it is each persons choice whether they recognize they are a sinner and want to turn from their sin and give their lives to Christ.
Christians have no excuse to be intolerant, hateful, or judgmental towards person(s) of differing faiths; but we are to compare if those beliefs are correct against the word of God. Christians are to hate sin but not the sinner; or the person that commits the sin. As a matter of fact we are to hate the sin in ourselves and appropriate God's power to overcome the sin in our own lives. Christians are called to live in love and harmony with others and show them the truth as opportunity arises.
Sometimes certain sins are focused on while other sins are totally overlooked; but all sin is sin. Sometimes others accuse us for harassing when we are lovingly trying to point out the truth from God's Word; because frankly they do not want to here the truth from the word of God. Christians are to be committed to following the Lord Jesus and His word, the Bible, which is the truth.
Some say that, the Bible is your truth to believe but not mine, which is typical of the world today but truth is not contradictory. God has revealed Himself through His word and He warns us to worship Him in truth, not error.
As Christians we need to love all people, our neighbors and our enemies, not hating them or condemning them. But it does not mean that Christians are to agree or imbrace with the doctrines of contradictory faiths that are not true and oppose the Bible.
There is a delicate balance between being loving and tolerant without forfeiting the truth. Consider the life of Christ who forgave and healed though we did not deserve it; but He was merciful and we need to be just as merciful and kind.
Come to Jesus Christ today, after all He died to save you.