"Does Your God Like That About You?" DOMA, {In}Tolerance, and Misunderstood Peace Part 2

"I'm afraid I feel a blog post coming on," I said to a friend this morning.  "Oh, good!" she replied, as we laughed about my reference to certain posts just "needing to come out, so I let them", in a rough paraphrase of an old Winnie-the-Pooh quote.

We'd been talking, briefly, about the recent Supreme Court decision on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and various reactions we'd seen and heard. It's brought up something about which I've long been concerned (and about which I've posted before: here, here, and here, among other places): the increasingly popular idea that Christians who voice disagreement with same-sex marriage (or other issues) are intolerant and demonstrating a lack of love.

Let me start with this disclaimer.  The DOMA ruling came in the midst of a crazy week here, and I have read/heard almost nothing about the ruling itself, other than that the highest court of the land struck down the law blocking federal recognition of same-sex marriages.

This post, therefore, is not about the DOMA ruling per se. It is about some of the responses/reactions I've seen to the news itself and particularly some of the responses/reactions I've seen to other responses/reactions. 

 I was a bit torn this morning.  I really wanted to finish either the post about the early days of my relationship with Billy (meeting in court and ending our first date in the ER) or the post about how and why I blog.  But...this post was almost demanding to be written...now. :)

As I was pondering and praying about what direction to take on this next-to-last day of Blogathon, I pulled up an old post I'd come across a few days ago when I was searching for something else.  As I read it, I realized that I had promised a "part 2" to that particular post, but had never actually published that part 2.

That was over three years ago!  (*Blush*)  Part 2 of that post was supposed to include the text of an email response I sent to one of my readers. Therefore, it was already basically written...just needing a bit of editing for space (lol) and a bit of introduction. It also "happened" to be on the same topic about which I "needed" to write today.

The Background

MisunderstoodPeace, Part 1 explains the background. This post is the post that started it all. Basically I had received an email from a reader accusing me of being intolerant based on this statement:  

I'm adding his story to my collection of  those who face great adversity and are later

thankful for it...although sadly, from the further reading/listening  I've done on 

Leon Fleisher, he doesn't at any point indicate a trust in God or belief in God's 

sovereignty as the giver of all good things.

I had planned to post my reply to that reader, but for whatever reason never did.  (I did send the email reply to the reader.  As far as the blog part...I'm guessing that I got busy and it became an "out of sight, out of mind" thing. :))

Although that reply had nothing to do with same-sex marriage, the parts about tolerance apply perfectly. Because my reply was lengthy, I'm going to divide it into two parts and share some additional thoughts with the second half tomorrow.

The response: Thankful for Adversity

Being thankful for adversity is something I think many people...perhaps most people...struggle with.  I did not intend to convey that I couldn't accept that a person can do that without "the intervention of [my] God", but first to convey sadness that such an amazing person with such an amazing story doesn't appear to acknowledge the Creator and Giver of all good gifts, and second, to see and share Mr. Fleisher's wonderful attitude as a challenge to those of us who struggle with the acceptance of suffering.  

James 1:2-4 says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."   Believers should above all people be able to be thankful in our suffering, and yet, many of us still struggle with actually living that.  
 The Response: Tolerance

As far as being intolerant, I think there is much confusion today about the value of tolerance.   Tolerance is a much-touted virtue in the world today, and in the eyes of many, intolerance is one of the greatest of sins. However, "tolerance" as it is usually proclaimed today is not found in the Bible.  "Tolerance" for people, in the sense of showing patience and grace to others, is proclaimed as a virtue in Ephesians 4.  However, the "tolerance" that is generally hailed as a virtue today is a tolerance for ideas...the notion that all religions (or no religion at all) are okay, the belief that there is no real truth, or the agreement that there is no wrong opinion.  That kind of tolerance is never seen in the God of the Bible.

While we are to practice the first type of tolerance by showing love and patience for those whose opinions we don't agree with (or more importantly whose opinions are in disagreement with the Bible), we are never to practice the second type of tolerance.  God is a jealous God, and we are told to have nothing to do with false religions or false teachers.

"You shall have no other gods before Me.  You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.  You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments."  (Exodus 20:3-6)

"Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you.  Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah  poles.  Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God." (Exodus 34:12-14)
"For this is what the LORD says—        He who created the heavens, He is God;
       He who fashioned and made the earth, He founded it;
       He did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited—
       He says: 'I am the LORD, and there is no other.'" ((Isaiah 45:18)

"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength" (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)

Punishment for Tolerating Sin

In fact, God punished the Israelites for tolerating sin. (There are many examples in the Old Testament). He made it clear that the people must make a choice.  He even punished Eli, the high priest, for tolerating sin in his own children.

"Now fear the LORD and serve Him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:14-15)

"At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end.  For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons made themselves contemptible,  and he failed to restrain them."  (1 Samuel 3:12-13)

God is holy and righteous, and cannot tolerate sin.

"Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear.   But your iniquities have separated you from your God;        your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear." (Isaiah 59:1-2)

"God is a righteous judge, a God who expresses His wrath every day." (Psalm 7:11)

"But the LORD is the true God; He is the living God, the eternal King.
       When He is angry, the earth trembles;  the nations cannot endure His wrath." (Jer. 10:10)

"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of His robe filled the temple.  Above Him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying.  

And they were calling to one another:    'Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory.'

At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 'Woe to me!' I cried. 'I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.'" (Isaiah 6:1-5)

Sin and Salvation

We are all sinners; therefore we are all cut off from God and deserving of His wrath.

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

God in His great love made a way for salvation from the punishment of sin.  He makes plain that this is the only way of salvation...that Jesus is the only Savior.  Only by His blood are we saved, not through any other.

"For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time." (1Timothy 2:5-6)

"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." (John 3:36)

"Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." (John 17:3)
"Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."  (John 14:6)

"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)

" But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:7-9)

"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."  (Romans 10:9-10)

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son,that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.  He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but He that believeth not is condemned already, because He hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."  (John 3:16-18)

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)

 No Tolerance for False Teaching

Despite His great love for us (or actually because of it), He makes plain again in the New Testament that we are not to tolerate sin or false teachings.  Sin and evil are to be hated and condemned.  We are to love those who persecute and revile us, but we are never to tolerate false teaching.  

"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!" (Galatians 1:6-9)

"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good." (Romans 12:9)

Tomorrow's post: the end of my email response plus a few additional comments.

I know this post may generate strong feelings.  I welcome feedback/discussion in the comments section. 

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Thank you!

(My apologies to those who read this post last night or early this morning.  I had tried to fix the spacing/formatting last night and couldn't get Blogger to cooperate.  I have now spent almost an hour this morning trying to get it fixed.  It's nowhere near perfect, but it is better!)

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