Oh Canada. Our Home and Tolerant Land?

oh_canada_tolerantChristians have always had to live in a world that is not entirely friendly to Jesus

| by Kirk Giles

Tolerance (def’n):
A fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc, differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.

Interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, etc, foreign to one’s own; a liberal, un-dogmatic viewpoint.

One of the recent, key words used in Canadian society has been the word “tolerance.” The definition of this word (taken from Dictionary.com) is extremely helpful for us to understand what exactly is meant when it is used. Unfortunately, those who tend to use the word are often guilty of not practising what they preach.

Many people will remember a story we told in the spring of 2011 about the firing of Damian Goddard from Rogers Sportsnet after he wrote on Twitter his belief that same-sex marriage was wrong. After this happened, I wrote comments on my own Twitter account that showed support for Damian and hockey agent Todd Reynolds regarding their rights to share their opinion on this matter.

Immediately, I started to receive comments on Twitter that were hateful and were calling me intolerant and a bigot. I know that the comments I received were mild compared to those that Goddard and Reynolds received. Somewhere along the way, tolerance came to mean that people are not entitled to their own beliefs if they disagree with the beliefs of someone else. Of course, the problems with that line of thinking are many because that would mean no one can really have a belief or opinion because it will inevitably go against what someone else believes.

I will not pretend to understand what people of other religions, nationalities, etc. experience in terms of tolerance, but I do know that many Christians have certainly experienced intolerance—as used in the first definition—towards their opinions and practices. Of course, that is nothing new.

A brief reading of the New Testament, along with many other modern and historical documents, will reveal that Christians have always had to live in a world that is not entirely friendly to Jesus or His followers. As men who follow Jesus, we should be frustrated at how impossible it is to truly be tolerant, and righteously angry when we are on the receiving end of intolerance.

If we want to understand how to live in this kind of world, we do not have to go far—simply be students and imitators of Jesus and His disciples. He introduced a courageous way of living—a way of loving others while not compromising the truth of God’s design for humanity. The way of Jesus will often cause our persecution, and our response will show if we are living for our own self-preservation or for the building of His Kingdom.

Jesus did not teach tolerance—He taught love for God first, and expressing that love for God by loving your neighbour and your enemy.

The team at Promise Keepers Canada has decided to address this important issue of tolerance because we need to know what it looks like to follow Jesus in an age of tolerance, we also need to know how to respond when those who preach it fail to live it in their opinions, practices, and concern for Christians.

Kirk Giles is the president of Promise Keepers Canada. However, his most important roles as a man are husband to Shannon and father to Carter, Joshua, Sydney and Samuel.

The article above is featured in the March/April 2013 issue of SEVEN magazine.