In the 2000 presidential race, George W Bush almost lost the election because of an “October Surprise,” when it was revealed that in 1976—24 years before the election—that George Bush had been arrested for driving under the influence. While there are divergent storylines about what happened in Florida, it is sometimes forgotten that the entire question of Florida arose because Americans “held a grudge” for something Bush did in his youth. Depending on the personal charisma of a candidate, past misdeeds (or even alleged misdeeds) might haunt someone for years.
We live in a society in which tolerance is the major buzzword, and being intolerant is almost as serious in the social sins of New Secularized American Religion (NASR) as hypocrisy. And yet, standards of tolerance are applied haphazardly, and often in a way that is itself, intolerant. The lawsuits filed against bakers and others over homosexuality is the intolerant policy that those who do not accept the growing NASR’s moral pronouncements should be forced to accept them.
American views on “tolerance,” particularly those associated with millennials, are incoherent. Campus speech codes limit free speech in the name of indefensibly narcissistic theories about “microaggressions;” and there is a growing number of bumper stickers that read, “So many Christians, so few lions.” The New American Secularized Religion’s (NASR) incoherent views of toleration demonstrate that as we abandon Christianity, we abandon rationality.
And yet, Christianity is a highly tolerant religious set of beliefs, as exemplified by the fact that one of our major writers, the apostle Paul, had previously imprisoned and executed Christians. David and Moses were both murderers, and heroes of the faith. Many will object to arguments of Christian tolerance on the grounds of witch hunts and the persecution of Pagans, but this was a later era’s embracing the imperial lifestyle; persecution of dissident religions was a Roman idea later nominal Christians brought into the faith. The early Church, and therefore modern Evangelicals who seek to emulate a purer doctrine, did not believe in spreading the gospel by means of the sword. But by persuasion.
Tolerance, within Christianity, unlike modern America, is not an excuse for allowing immoral behavior, or for enabling self-destructive lifestyles. Indeed, no one tolerates actions they consider to be immoral – and however else we might want to discuss the matter, laws against murder, rape, and assault are attempts at “legislating morality;” these matters are simply issues of morality that go unquestioned in most systems of thought. Instead, Christians tolerate people who commit immoral acts, even if we don’t or can’t condone those acts, themselves. We may not agree with a persons lifestyle, we may condemn their actions, but we hope for their salvation.
Unlike the modernist, Christian belief, gives man intrinsic value, because man is made in the image of God and the cross of Christ as the means of forgiveness for universal human depravity gives man a dignity that no evolutionary process can bequeath to him. Because man is depraved, but can be redeemed, Christians believe in toleration in the hopes that individual men will receive the same salvation that we have.