Appropriate Intolerance

This was another FB response to my “Imposing Morality” comments:

“I do have a few more points to add in light of your comments. First of all, we are no longer under the law. We are saved by grace alone, and if any changes need to be made in our souls, it is done by the power of the Holy Spirit through our relationship with The Father through the propitiation of sin by the work of the cross – NOT BY FOLLOWING RULES/TRADITIONS!!!!! That’s what the Pharisees tried to do, and I recall that Jesus got pretty crunk with them more than once.

We each have to answer individually to God, so why do we, as Christians, who are supposed to be known by our agape, feel the need to impose our personal morality on others, especially un-saved people who are turned off by it and hence turned off to God?

If they aren’t saved, what difference does it make what they do? If they are saved, only God knows the wounds, hurts, and pains that cause them to act the way they do, and will heal them as He sees fit. Secondly, I was not referring to children, but to adults.”

My “thinking out loud” response: Hmmm….”If they are not saved, what difference does it make what they do?” Potentially a great deal, I believe. People’s actions have consequences which often affect other people, sometimes in some pretty dramatic ways. For example, how about the drunk driver who broadsides and kills a pregnant woman driving to the store?

To what extent can we realistically be “tolerant” of unsaved people who are just acting like sinners? Is there not a point at which a certain amount of morality must be imposed in order to promote the general welfare of humankind. Few unsaved people would agree that we should live without laws that impose some aspects of right and wrong.

Do we turn a blind eye to abortion, child trafficking, theft and other behaviors just because that’s what “sinners” do, and who are we to impose our morals upon them?  Is it possible that imposing our biblically-based morality could actually be another expression of agape love?

True, we are not under the law but under grace. Our position with God is determined not by the law, but by our acceptance of the work of Jesus on our behalf. However, this does not make the need for law obsolete. In fact, Jesus said he did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.

True, only through an intimate relationship with the Father through Jesus can we truly fulfill the law. That’s why Jesus said that the first and greatest commandment was to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind. A heart driven by love for the Father will me more inclined towards naturally fulfilling the law. Why? Because love for the Father transforms our hearts and our natural desires so that they become holy.

Contextually, to say that we are no longer under the law but under grace speaks about our relational position with God the Father. It does not signify that we no longer need God-based, biblically-based morality and laws for living to provide healthy boundaries for living. A standard of righteousness is still needed so that people can enjoy the greatest possible freedom.

Thankfully, our ability to follow the “law” does not determine our eternal state or the state of our relationship with the Father. Receiving by faith the work of Jesus on our behalf determines both of those. After all, our righteousness, our own efforts are as “filthy rags.”

Meanwhile, while we enjoy salvation by grace and not through the law, rules and laws are still needed for people to live together constructively. Thus, some form of morality must still be imposed. Someone must take a stand and say lying, killing, stealing, etc. are wrong. We cannot let people just do whatever they want to do and call that love. That form of tolerance would be irresponsible.

Thus, one could argue that there is a place for “appropriate intolerance,” and a place for imposing biblical morality as an expression of agape love.

Appropriate Intolerace — Part 2 coming soon!

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