A recent series of posts explored the question of Christian leaders and hypocrisy. Veritas Rex noted the charge of hypocrisy is easily leveled against Christian leaders and is too often true. One need only mention names like Ted Haggard, Jimmy Swaggart, or U.S. Sen. David Vitter to make the faithful wince. It hurts. It hurts deeply.
Another charge frequently hurled against people of faith in the public square is that we are intolerant. By that, if you really examine the charge, our accusers mean we believe something and are willing to assert it is true and to fight for its expression throughout public life. The charge, then, is that we actually believe something and are willing to fight for what we believe is true, right and good. For example, when I say that I believe homosexuality is harmful to all, including society, and is against the teachings of the God of the Bible, I will be quickly labeled a small-minded, fascist bigot by many gay activists. The charges and name-calling are actually far worse, but this is a family blog. They can say "anything goes" and consider themselves tolerant; if I say "some things go well and some things go poorly," I'm declared intolerant, especially if my beliefs are rooted in Biblical revelation.
The reality is that the so-called post-modern (or neo-pagan) mind believes there is no truth and we must all grope our way through life without any certainties. Accordingly, their counsel is to taste and experience as much as you can, and settle on those things (behaviors, beliefs, practices) that "work for you." So, that mindset can be deeply offended by those who believe there is Truth and that from that Truth flow these certainties. For me, one of those key beliefs is that the Bible is true and it reveals a truth-telling , promise-keeping God in whom I can confidently trust my life and future.
And then I point out that this God makes a number of statements and assertions about the life we should lead -- including avoiding sexual wrongdoing such as adultery (sex outside of marriage), fornication (sex while not married), homosexuality (sex with a same-sex partner), and bestiality (sex with animals). Of course, the Bible is not limited to sexual ethics at all (money, time and love are far more frequent themes in the Scriptures). But for those of us who believe God is the creator, author and sustainer of life, we seek to live out those Truths in all aspects of life, including public life. And that can be an affront to the neo-pagan, post-modern mind.
Now some of them will actually practice tolerance and say, "That's fine for you. I just don't believe that." And that's the point -- tolerance is not the absence of belief or the unwillingness to assert it in practice or in public. Tolerance is accepting that the other person believes what they espouse. By this definition, the intolerant ones among us are those who malign those who stands up for Biblical truth or traditional values and would dare to exercise our political citizenship rights to see those values help guide public life. IFI has been so attacked, and viciously and vigorously so, for years now. This shows us the intolerant ones among us.
We need help from the psychological profession to figure out why those who are intolerant hurl that charge (intolerance) against those of us with a conviction that Truth exists and a parallel conviction that we can confidently navigate our lives by that Truth. Some might call it hypocrisy. Carl Jung, who was Sigmund Freud's greatest student and one of the leading thinkers of the 20th Century, called this phenomenon projection, a term many psychologists still use today. Jesus Christ, in the Sermon on the Mount, leaned toward the term hypocrite, but he focused on decrying the behavior rather than naming it (see Matthew 7:1-5).
Tolerance is not acceptance of all. That's cowardice. Tolerance is a respect of the very real differences that separate.