“That may be true for you, but it's not true for me.”
“No one has the right to tell me what's right or wrong for me.”
“It's wrong to try to impose your morals on someone else.”
“Don’t cram that down my throat.”
“I have the right to do whatever I want as long as I'm not hurting anyone.”
“Look, that's your opinion.”
“If it feels right, do it. Follow your heart.” Perplexed?
Most Christian parents and grandparents are perplexed with the younger generation's comfort with a value system contrary to biblical standards.
Many Christians are mystified about how other Christians who claim to believe in the Bible are promoting morals that are contrary to clear biblical standards.
Why are we considered judgmental or even hateful, just because we disagree with another person’s moral stance?
The book, “The Beauty of Intolerance”, by Josh and Sean McDowell, opened my eyes to two things that explain what is happening in today’s world.
My first discovery was that our culture has redefined several important words: truth, tolerance, respect, and acceptance.
- The Source of Truth
The biblical narrative about truth: Moral truth is grounded in the character of God; it is objective and universal. This truth is known by discovering the nature of God and His ways as revealed through Scripture and within nature.
The cultural narrative about truth: Moral truth comes from the individual; it is subjective and situational. This truth is known through choosing to believe it and through personal experience (i.e. you are the creator of your own truth). No one has the right to judge another person's moral truth or behaviour.
In John 8:32, Jesus said, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Traditional definition of tolerance: Recognize and respect others even if you don't share their values, beliefs, and practices.
Tolerance as re-defined by the culture: Recognize and respect that every individual's values, truth claims, beliefs, and practices are equally valid.
- Re-definition of respect: Wholeheartedly approve of other's beliefs or lifestyle choices as equally valid.
- Re-definition of acceptance: Not only endorse but actually praise others for their beliefs and lifestyle choices.
My second discovery was about how these re-definitions play out.
People who believe that moral truth is found within the individual want – even demand – respect for their own brand of morality and acknowledgment that it isn't wrong for them to do what they personally feel is right.
Anything short of approval and praise for their lifestyle and moral choices are labeled rejecting, bigoted, intolerant, arrogant, judgmental, phobic, and hateful.
These labels are powerful, and silence opposition from those whose narrative about truth is based on their understanding of the Bible.
We used to say, “We hate the sin, but we love the sinner.”
Young people want “respect” (approval) for their own brand of morality and acknowledgment that it isn't wrong for them to do what they personally feel is right.
Our failure to accept their moral choices is now considered not only rejection of their beliefs but also rejection of them personally. When we disagree with them, they react angrily, “You hate me!” even though we may love them dearly.
What’s Going On?
All of this really amounts to the harassment of Christian believers. The cancel culture is vicious in how it attacks those who step across the line that they have drawn. But Jesus told us that we should not be surprised about this because the world is opposed to the things of God.
In John 15:18, He said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.”
And in Matthew 5:10, He said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
1 Peter 4:12 and 14 says, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” What Can We Do About It?
The most important thing is, don’t despair!
God is not taken off-guard about the loss of morals or the rejection of His universal truths.
What we believe about truth does not change the nature of the truth that actually exists.
The good news is that those who believe that truth is decided by the individual are still in process of formulating their views on moral truth.
Surveys indicate that young people are still listening to their parents and grandparents – especially grandparents.
- Quoting the Bible is not a good place to start.
Because Christian young people want to be accepting of others and resist the idea of judging people, they unwittingly buy into cultural tolerance and become confused about the source of moral truth and the existence of right and wrong.
Christian young people tend to go to the Bible not to discover the truth and obey it but as an aid to forming their own version of what's good and evil, right and wrong.
Besides, they view the Bible as applicable only to Judaism and Christianity, two among many valid religions from which you can pick and choose.
- Pay attention to feelings.
In conflicts between parents and children over right and wrong, parents often fail to consider the feelings involved and emphasize only the dos and don'ts. When parents come across as dogmatic, emphasizing the rules tends to deemphasize the relationship.
Ephesians 4:14-15 – Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.
Sharing truth is more effective when expressed in the context of a loving relationship. They are more swayed by our tone of voice than by our rules.
Avoid personal attacks. We can win an argument but lose the person.
- Point out the consequences.
They may say, “I have the right to do whatever I want as long as I'm not hurting anyone.” Although the cultural narrative of truth seems good, loving, and accepting, it is not difficult to show that it does not show respect and care for others. In fact, it is simply selfish.
Pride is the basic human sin – wanting to be like God and to determine what is right or wrong.
Inevitably, moral choices based on our own moral compass will often be wrong choices, resulting in consequences ranging from minor disappointments to major disasters emotionally, relationally, physically, and spiritually.
- Challenge their thinking.
Show how cultural tolerance is self-contradictory. There are many ways to do this.
Is it absolutely true that there is no absolute truth?
“Showing zero tolerance for intolerance” sure looks like intolerance!
If it is so good to be tolerant, why are “culturally tolerant” people not tolerant of “biblically tolerant” people?
Use examples of cultural tolerance extremism to your advantage. When religious freedom is violated in the name of cultural tolerance, you can show how unreasonable cultural tolerance can be.
Recently, a controversial group was banned from Mission School Board meetings because they were making presentations about traditional morality, and the School Board said that it had a policy of being inclusive, diverse, and accepting. I wrote a letter to the Mission City Record:
I don't know exactly what was presented, and it doesn't matter whether I agree or disagree with either side in the matter, but there is a principle of natural justice involved here. Can people who claim to be "inclusive, diverse, and accepting" truly maintain that reputation when they exclude and reject others who disagree with their policies? When people have no room for open discussion of controversial issues with a variety of viewpoints represented in society, don't they show themselves to be excluding and unaccepting? How can people accurately self-identify as tolerant when they are intolerant of dissent? Wouldn't those who are rejected feel marginalized, ostracized, and belittled?
Everyone thinks the Holocaust and Taliban atrocities are wrong. Why? If we think that everyone has the right to choose their own morality, don't Nazis and Muslim terrorists have the same right to choose their own morality? By the standards of the culture, who are we to judge?
It is often being taught that “value claims” (what someone thinks, feels, or believes as “good”, ”bad”, “right”, or “wrong”) are just opinions.
Teachers often say, “That is inappropriate behaviour.” How come they don't give students the freedom to choose their own idea of what is appropriate?
Help kids to stand up for their right to hold biblical standards as their values.
- Don’t Emphasize Your Own Values.
We might say, “You have forsaken the way that we raised you.”
But they will respond, “That’s fine for you, but this is what I now believe.” Emphasize instead the fact that moral values arise from the character of God.
Things are good because God is good.
Our lives are to be pure because God is pure.
Standards can be standards only if they come from outside and are applicable to everyone.
No one can change the character of God.
We all admire and want to emulate ideals like honour, integrity, courage, respect, self-control.
Cultural tolerance makes it impossible to say what is truly honourable and just.
Why does everyone know stealing, dishonesty, lying, and cheating are bad when it happens to them?
Everyone accepts the moral truth that poverty, racism, sexual abuse, slavery, AIDS, terrorism, and bigotry should not be tolerated.
The biblical source of truth gives tolerance and intolerance their proper definition.
1 Corinthians 2:6 – We ... speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.