By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
LifeWay Research released an interesting study last week (see story). The headline of the story sums it up well: “Christians Face Intolerance; Complain.”
Maybe, for once, Christians have a right to complain.
For years we have accepted the lie that Christians are intolerant. Some individual Christians are. I won’t dispute that, but for the most part, Christians have been too tolerant and that is why our world is in the mess it is in today.
If Christians were as intolerant as those on the liberal left maintain, we wouldn’t be debating today which restrooms boys and girls use in public schools.
In Tennessee, there is a possibility that biological boys can go to the girls’ restroom if he claims that he identifies himself as a girl. The bill was still in committee as of press day on Monday and there was a possibility it might not get out of that committee to go to the House and Senate for a full vote. On top of that, even if it passes both legislative bodies, there is a possibility Gov. Bill Haslam will veto the bill.
We are accused of intolerance. I call it common sense. Keep the restrooms as they are. Most every school I know of has a faculty restroom that can be used by either sex. Allow students who have an identity issue to use those facilities. Don’t make the 99 percent who would be uncomfortable with people of the other sex in their restroom to suffer for the less than 1 percent it will ultimately impact.
If Christians are as intolerant as some would lead us to believe, we wouldn’t have allowed politicians to be elected who have turned our Supreme Court upside down to the point they have allowed babies to be aborted on demand and redefined the biblical definition of marriage.
We wouldn’t be standing idly by, allowing Hollywood and major corporations to dictate to local governments what laws should be passed or not. Case in point, the governor of Georgia saying he would veto legislation that would protect pastors from having to perform same-sex marriages.
If those who profess to be Christian had stood up decades ago, we probably would not be where we are today — in danger of losing our religious freedom and the beliefs/values that we hold so dear.
In the LifeWay story, Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, observed: “Christians are particularly sensitive to what they see as intolerance toward their faith. But they share a common concern with people of other faiths — that religious liberty in general is declining. And this perception is growing rapidly.”
Religious liberty is on the decline because Christians have been afraid of being called “intolerant” so they did nothing for the most part. And when they dared do something, they wilted at the first sign of pressure.
Several years ago Christians were “bashed” because they dared to boycott companies that advance the lesbian/gay rights agenda. Southern Baptists, in particular, were mocked and ridiculed because they dared to suggest a “boycott” of the Disney theme park when the convention held its annual meeting in Orlando. I didn’t go to the park to look but I have a feeling that there were a lot of Southern Baptists visiting with Mickey Mouse that week.
When groups such as the American Family Association suggested we refuse to buy products or services from those companies that support values that differ from Christianity, few people take the suggestion seriously. Had people stopped buying certain products or viewing programs that make a mockery of our faith, those companies might not be so dogmatic today.
Now, those same companies (and others) that we wanted to boycott are now using that strategy to “get their way.” Hollywood and even the National Football League threatened a boycott in Georgia if the governor did not veto the bill. They won.
I get so tired of hearing from Christians especially who use the crutch: “Jesus loved everyone and associated with sinners.” That is true. Jesus loved sinners, but show me a place in the Bible where He actually condoned the sin. You will not find it. Jesus loved the adulterous woman and kept her from being stoned to death but He told her to go and sin no more (John 8:11). That part often gets left out. Jesus does not condemn the sinner but He also does not condone the sin.
I probably give credence to the portion of the LifeWay article in which those surveyed say Christians complain too much. I am complaining because the values I hold dear — those values that our Lord holds dear — are under attack.
Will my complaining or your complaining do any good? Probably not — unless we are willing to back up our complaints with our actions. We must not sit idly by and allow culture to continue to disintegrate on our watch.
But this is where it is so hard for Christians. Do we want to give up something we really enjoy (for instance, watching an NFL football game or our favorite soft drink) to protest their support of something that we disagree with? I predict a few will, but most won’t.
Therein lies the problem. We tolerate the sin and we have done so for decades.
May God forgive us for allowing our wonderful nation to become what it is today.