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Truth…not Tolerance!

Truth…..Not Tolerance ?

What’s that all about ?

Our modern society makes a great deal of the concept of tolerance as a virtue.  We are told that everyone in society has a right to live as they choose to and no one should judge them.  To do so is to put oneself in a morally superior position to everyone else (or at least the person or persons you are calling wrong).

Let’s look at a three short questions for a second.

Would you say that Adolph Hitler was the moral equivalent of Martin Luther King, Jr ?

What about the man who recently molested a 9-year old girl and then murdered her 150 yards from her father’s mobile home and someone like, say, Bill Clinton ,  who cheated on his wife ?  Are they morally equivalent ?   Were both men to stand before God today, would God be just and fair in giving them both the exact same punishment ?

Looking at our own justice system, should a person who embezzled money from a corporation like Enron be given the same punishment as a person who murdered 30 people in a bombing explosion of a corporate building ?

Most of you reading this would probably say no to all of the questions above.

Yet, that’s exactly what the purveyors of the virtue of ‘tolerance’ are teaching.   Out of one side of their mouths, you will hear ‘It is inherently arrogant to assume that any moral stance is absolutely right and make it binding on everyone’, but what that really means is ‘Instead, adopt my moral stance that all morality should be tolerated equally’.  Does anyone see the inherent contradiction yet ?

My friends,  I’d like to propose another view for your consideration – it’s foolishness and hypocrisy to dogmatically assume that all morals are equal and all morals should be tolerated equally and none condemned.   By making such an assertion, you are, by default condemning those who hold a different moral view than yourself.  As such, that would make you just as morally arrogant as the people you seek to see change their minds.

Are you claiming that your moral standard of ‘all morals being equal’ is morally superior to my standard of ‘some things are wrong morally and some things are right’ ?

If you do place a value on human life in any way, shape or form, and you were consistent in your beliefs, you would have to condemn Hitler’s actions and lifestyle (attempted genocide against the Jews) as wrong.  You’d also have to extol MLK’s striving for civil rights for African-Americans as right.

There is also the issue of justice.  Most of us carry around a general sense of justice that would make them cry foul if a mass murderer were to be treated with a light sentence and community service in the same way an embezzler would be.    In fact, our morals probably dictate that it would be unjust to do so.   And when we come to this realization, it’s clear that the ‘no moral absolutes’ argument is simply a smokescreen used by those who need an excuse to advocate a lifestyle.

What I believe we should have as a virtue is respect and truth.  Some things are plain as day and need not be disputed if a person is being intellectually honest with themselves.  If someone claims that there are no moral absolutes, what they are claiming is that it is absolutely true  that no moral absolutes exist. Yes,  it’s a moral claim to claim that all morals claims to truth are equal.

First off, such a claim assumes ‘wrong and right’ as existing categories. Second, it assumes that one possesses all available ‘moral knowledge’ in order to make such a claim. Third, for such a claim to be true, it would have to take the social, political and cultural best interests of the entire society (both individuals and the collective) into consideration before making such a statement.    We know that the practice of segregation for example, was  physically, emotionally and economically harmful to African-Americans, not to mention the fallout of emotional and psychological damage that has been inflicted to the African-American community.   Such a moral belief (that ‘races’ shouldn’t mix or that African-Americans are inferior to Caucasians) is obviously not ‘equal’ with that of desegregation.   One set of beliefs treats another ethnicity of people as inferior, one treats them as equals.   Both cannot be equally right.

Respect for differing moral viewpoints, even when disagreement exists, should be our starting point.  Biblical and historic Christianity makes many strong moral truth claims among them are that marriage is a union between a man and woman, homosexuality is wrong, murder is wrong, stealing is wrong,  helping the poor is good,  taking care of widows is good and sex outside of marriage is wrong.  Christians are commanded to present these truth claims with ‘gentleness and with respect’ (1 Peter 3:15,16) whenever possible.   As Christians, we believe that both ourselves and non-Christians are made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26), and as such, our fellow man is deserving of respect when discussing these issues just as we are deserving of the same respect when discussing these issues.

The even ground of respect and acknowledgment that such as thing as ‘truth’ does exist objectively and absolutely not only sets both parties on truly even ground, but also destroys the notion that either party is ‘morally superior’ to one another.  In addition, it makes for a good place to begin dialoging about the Christian faith and the validity of anyone’s truth claims.    Respect demands truth.  And the ground of truth is much safer to stand on than tolerance.

Many thanks to Michael Ramsden of RZIM for his influence in this short file.

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