Christians are admonished throughout the Scriptures to be virtuous. Peter writes: "Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with stead-fastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love" (2 Peter 1:5-7). Paul cites a similar list of virtues in Galatians 5:22-23 and refers to them as "fruit of the Spirit."
Needless to say, virtues are supposed to be character traits that are good. The dictionary defines a virtue as "a characteristic of moral excellence or goodness." But the number one virtue being touted in America today is anything but good. It threatens to destroy both American and the Church.
A Shift in Values
Our number one national virtue used to be justice. That is the virtue that Martin Luther King, Jr. used to convict our consciences and call us to repentance for racial injustice.
But justice is no longer the primary virtue in America. If you want to know what that virtue is, just ask your children, because it is being hammered into their heads on a daily basis in their public school classrooms.
What is it? It is tolerance.
It sounds so good. It sounds so uplifting, so positive in nature. Your most likely response to your children is to say, "Oh, that's wonderful! Pay close attention to your teacher." But before you do that, let me warn you. The concept of tolerance being taught to our children today is anything but wonderful. It is downright dangerous.
The New Meaning
How can something that seems so good be so terrible? After all, isn't tolerance a necessary virtue to prevent prejudice, bigotry and hatred? The problem is rooted in the fact that the traditional concept of tolerance — the kind adults in America grew up with — has been redefined into a moral perversion.
The tolerance we grew up with was the kind that encouraged respect for differing viewpoints, religions, and life styles. It was the idea of treating with dignity and respect those who might disagree with us on fundamental concepts of life.
This traditional concept of tolerance is one of the foundation stones of American democracy. It produced the attitude of freedom of diversity — a freedom that has made it possible for Catholics, Protestants and Jews to live together in peace.
But this traditional concept of tolerance has been replaced by the "New Tolerance" that is being taught to our children today. The "New Tolerance" demands not only respect, but also endorsement and praise. Thus, it is no longer sufficient for me to simply tolerate the homosexual lifestyle. To be truly tolerant, I must also endorse it and praise it. And if I refuse to do so, I am a bigot!
A Twisted "Virtue"
The new form of tolerance is really no virtue at all because it is based on a lie. The lie that serves as its foundation is the belief that all values, beliefs, and lifestyles are equally valid.
Thus, democracy is viewed as being no better than dictatorship. Capitalism is considered no better than socialism. And Christianity is seen as being no better than Hinduism.
To summarize it in modern jargon: "Different strokes for different folks, with all judgment put aside."
An Ironical Virtue
But there is an irony to this "New Tolerance." The irony is that everything is tolerated except intolerance!
You can witness this irony in action by taking a look at any of the daily television talk shows which have been dubbed most appropriately as "trash TV." I'm speaking of programs like those hosted by Montel Williams, Jerry Springer, Sally Jesse Raphael, and Geraldo Rivera.
On these programs you will see a parade of moral perverts, like "mothers who sleep with their daughter's boyfriends." And if anyone in the audience has the audacity to stand up and say, "I think what you are doing is wrong," the audience will turn on that person in mob fury, denouncing him or her as an intolerant bigot. The result is what Isaiah pointed to as a basic evil in Judean society: "People call evil good and good evil!" (Isaiah 5:20).
In the next part of "The New Tolerance," we'll look at the problem and its consequences.