Banging your head against a wall: being intolerant of the intolerant...


Last week, my sister told me a story about what had been taught at the on-campus ministry she is a part of. The head-honcho of the group had spoken on the first night of the group and talked about truth. Well, it turned out that the "sermon" was about warning them about the emergent movement (and this is to be considered "truth," apparently)! I couldn't believe it when she told me—warning about the emergent movement! She went on to explain what he warned about—ironically, it was about being inclusive and loving towards *gasp* everyone (including gays and divorcees)!

After the initial shock of the topic, the discussion turned to what she should do about it. She is part of the leadership team and understood that by her being a part of the leadership and not saying anything to the higher-ups, she was supporting and representing what the leader spoke about. And the thought struck me: how tolerant should we be when it comes to others' intolerant views? And more importantly, when those views are taught as truth? I understand that people have different views and beliefs about different aspects of the Bible and what it teaches, but what is disheartening is when the leader of a self-proclaimed non-denominational group openly bashed a whole church movement (which my sister has a sister (me!) and parents who are a part of it… if not her as well). And how many people in that audience have divorced parents? The percentage of church-going people who get divorced is just about the same as the non-church-going population.

But how does someone confront intolerance? The leader doesn't have to agree with divorce or homosexuality, but is it right for him to preach about it when he has no idea of how is really sitting in his audience? If people attend a church where it is told and understood that those beliefs are taught and believed, that is one thing. But when college students are finding refuge in the group and all that is taught is intolerance, is that right? This is how the brainwashing begins! A man is standing up in front of his audience, most still searching and discovering what they really believe, telling them (or should I say shoving down their throats?) what they should believe.

I fully believe that my sister should confront the pastor, but is it possible to make any sort of impact? I know that he will feel bad (at least, I'd hope so) for offending her (and others) but in the long-run, will it change anything? Or is it just enough to stand up and confront intolerance that will eventually cause the change? I really like the description of change the reverend of the church my church meets in—his change is like hitting his head against the wall, knowing that with each hit, slight change is made and eventually, with the help of others and constant, deliberate action, anything be accomplished.

So is confronting intolerance one person at a time hitting the wall with your head? Or is it just slamming your head into a wall and only getting a big headache as a result? I would hope it is part of the small "dents" of change. It takes more and more people standing up for what they believe and confronting those who are not following the only real commandment that Jesus told us to follow—love others as you love yourself. LOVE! It doesn't get simpler than that. You don't have to agree with the person or their choices, but you should love them just the same. And not "loving the sinner, not the sin," because everyone can sense when there's still judgment in the relationship. Jesus didn't agree with Mary Magdalene's lifestyle choices (can't get much "worse" than a prostitute…) but he loved her.

Stand up to intolerance. You don't have to argue and fight about the difference in views or beliefs, but confront the offence that you or others might have gotten by the intolerance of whomever you are around. Bang your head against the wall and encourage others to join you—you never know what wall it is that you may cause to...