I believe that I have touched on this subject before, but I would like to return to it today. This is the topic of judgmentalism and intolerance from the Christian community. It is ever in the news about intolerant conservatives or hypocritical Christians. I am sure that you have heard about the CEOs who have lost their positions because they supported traditional marriage; or have you heard about the ever-increasing boundary line around abortion clinics that prevents pro-life counselors from getting too close? What about the florist who is being sued for declining to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding? Or the bakery that refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple? When these stories hit the headlines the Christians or conservatives involved are usually portrayed as intolerant, bigoted, or judgmental. “Where is the love of Jesus?” we are asked. It is easy for me to get riled up about these cases, but it becomes a bit more difficult when it hits closer to home.
There are a few people in my life who claim Christianity but are definitely not living according to His commands. It’s not like they are making a simple mistake; they are, in fact, maintaining a lifestyle that directly contradicts God’s Word. I am trying to find that fine line of holding them accountable for their behavior without ostracizing them. I know that they expect me to lecture them; I know because they avoid me, though they once considered me a friend. I don’t like being considered judgmental or intolerant, but I also cannot ignore what the Bible says – that if a believer, or someone who takes that title, sins he or she must be confronted and held accountable. I am certain that I am not alone in my quandary.
The conclusion I have come to is this: The world views any difference of opinion or any negative response to their lifestyle as intolerant of judgmental. If right or wrong is declared, then that declaration is offensive to those who disagree. ‘Values’ have their distinction because they are worth something. We protect what we value; we are proud of what we value; our lifestyles reflect what we value. So it is with the moral values we hold to; everybody has values which reflect their worldview in some way. Christian values respect the Bible and the standard by which Jesus lived. This requires an intolerance of sin in one’s life and a daily judging between right and wrong. Secular values are often post-modern with their position that right and wrong are relative. If I compromise my values by remaining silent when I encounter wrong-doing, then those values obviously do not mean very much to me. I am not being judgmental or intolerant by stating what I believe, standing by what I believe, and expecting others to live according to their declared belief system. Just as I am not saying that my friends cannot maintain their wayward lifestyle, only that their wayward lifestyle is contrary to God’s word, the conservative community is not saying that people cannot be in same-sex relationships. They are simply saying that it is not right to force everyone to condone and embrace those relationships. However, in both cases something is being declared wrong and that is what secular society despises.
Sadly, some people are determined to only be offended by life. They want to be the victim rather than the victor. The only friends they want around are those who will assume the role of yes-man. If you have people like that in your life, do not take their responses personally. Do not allow them to sway you from your convictions. Continue to speak what you know is right and true. Fortunately, the Bible doesn’t just say we should hold fellow believers accountable for their sin; it also gives us clear instructions for how to do so in a way that will hopefully win them over to conviction and repentance. The purpose of accountability is to heal, not harm. And as to the headlines, keep reminding your corner of the world that true intolerance prohibits any difference of opinion. Encourage people to use their minds to consider other options and not be so quick to take offense. If the Christian florist doesn’t want to provide flowers then go to another florist. How is that intolerant?