I used the word tolerance a couple of days go. It is important how word usage and language has changed over the years. Looking back in a dictionary from the 19th century tolerance meant “the power or capacity of enduring or acting”. In the early 20th century it added “endurance of the presence or actions of objectionable persons, or of the expressions of offensive opinions”. The first definition in modern dictionaries states that tolerance is “the willingness to accept feelings, habits, or beliefs that are different from your own”. The meaning has changed from endurance to acceptance. This has given Christians a serious problem by bringing on the charge of bigotry when we oppose certain behaviors accepted in modern society. Being bound by God’s holy word we cannot accept sexual practices contrary to God’s design. We cannot accept the human sacrifice of killing the unborn. But at the same time we are not against anyone. Our Lord died for all mankind, and it is not our place to condemn anyone, and we don’t. By not accepting actions contrary to God’s word, we are simply trying to say that, within God revealed will, He is offering the fullest life possible. People are very complex beings. That’s the way God made us. So, each person has individual cares, and needs. Each must be treated with God’s love and compassion even if we don’t agree with their manner of life. Our opposition in areas that God declares to be wrong is not bigotry. It is love seeking to share God’s best.
There is usually an outcry of “bigotry” when a conservative Christian speaks out against the liberal values of modern society. We are accused of being intolerant, denying human rights, and condemning people. They see only that opposing a certain behavior as the same as hating that person. But God has given His values and commandments for life so that we might have the best life possible. After having lead Israel to the Promised Land, and given them God’s commandments, as he was about to die, he said, “I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” It was a pleading call for the people to obey God’s will, not to restrict their freedom, or deny them pleasure, but that “you and your children may live.” He wanted them to have the best life possible, and that is the point. God has given us a way of life that is for our best good. We find that good only by seeking to know and understand His will for our lives. God has given the life of His Son to redeem us, and He has shown us a way of life in relationship to His Son. He has done everything possible for us to have the best life. And that is the depth of love.