Why? Because Christians often get labelled as bigots and this became particularly evident during a recent campaign in Australia over the redefinition of marriage.
Why do we stick to our guns?
Do we hate gays?
Why do we claim to have some ‘absolute’ reign over the definition of marriage?
Is Jesus a bigot…does he raise bigots?
What is at stake is truth.
Truth is at the heart of Easter.
Questions is, 'What's Truth?'
I’ve got some super videos for you in the lead up to Easter that explore the subject of truth and how we need to equip our kids to be able to give good reasons for their belief in Jesus as THE truth. You see we need to be concerned that our kids don’t just believe in the truth but can articulate why.
You can access the special 'What's Truth?' Parent Training Video by clicking on the graphic below:
This purposeful parenting post is the first in a short series I’ve got planned for us all around the topic of truth and its place in the celebration of Easter.
Today, as we explore ‘what’s truth?’ we’re going to be looking at the very misunderstood and misused word of ‘tolerance’. I felt it seemed logical to piggy back on a recent issue in Australia to illustrate the point. So…
Is Jesus a bigot…does he raise bigots?
Let’s take a look at one of the definitions that fit this label of bigot:
According to the Collins English Dictionary, (in America) bigot means...
1. a person who holds blindly and intolerantly to a particular creed pinionetc.
Our country recently held a non-compulsory, non-binding vote on whether parliament should endorse same sex marriage. However, anyone who opposed the endorsement to legalise same sex marriage was often labelled a ‘bigot’ by the some of the more enthusiastic same sex marriage campaigners.
If you disagreed with the majority (the vote in Australia ended up about 60/40) overturning the time honoured principles of marriage in line with more recent and novel trends, you were likely to be described as a bigot…
‘blindly’ holding your ground to (an old fashioned)‘creed’.
In other words, you had no good evidence upon which to base your ‘truth’ or stance against same sex marriage. It implied you were clutching to archaic principles that had been proven wrong or washed away in the face of modern, better evidence.
True or false?
Actually, those wanting to retain the marriage status quo weren’t allowed to have a viewpoint, at least not without penalty. Oh sure, you could vote ‘No’ but you were lampooned for it, you lost business, you lost friends. Yet no-one on the ‘yes’ side established that the grounds for keeping marriage between only a man and a woman wasn’t best for society. I don’t think they even cared about evidence, instead they just demanded the change because to do otherwise was inequitable.
But believer’s in Jesus are not expected to just believe in the truth and shut down dissenting viewpoints (though history has shown we can be pretty good at just like our modern secular societies are becoming!). Instead, we are expected to be able to give grounds for why Jesus is the truth, respectfully. Isn’t that the point of choosing 12 disciples so they could be eyewitnesses of what Jesus did and said?
Consequently, Jesus doesn’t raise people who blindly hold their view or ‘creed’.
Let’s go a bit deeper. What about intolerance of other groups? What about hatred?
If we take the Merriam Webster definition, bigot is defined as:
: a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (such as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance
We may well ask, does Jesus ever obstinately stick to his own opinion?
I think the answer maybe ‘yes’.
A quick word search of the word ‘truth’ in John’s gospel alone shows an enormous confidence on Jesus part, that he holds the truth and that his opponents are most definitely wrong.
We might pause and wonder… “ouch! How could anyone in our modern secular world ever speak like this?”
Our shock at Jesus confidence spring from our confusion over whether truth exists at all.
Our confusion over ‘what’s truth?’ leads to our politically correct, watered down, understanding of ‘tolerance’. Being tolerant becomes accepting everybody’s view as equal and that nobody can be wrong.
It’s a farce.
Jesus was certainly intolerant under this definition.
Jesus was born to bear witness to the truth that lays claim to all people of all times. (John 18) He won’t let you put Him down as just ‘a truth’ among many other options.
Does Jesus ever show members of another group ‘hatred’?
Certainly not. “Father forgive them” he cries from cross.
He also welcomed the Samaritan woman whom he wasn’t supposed to associate with and countless other rejects of his society.
And if we look to those eyewitnesses of Jesus, how did they go about their ‘witnessing’? It wasn’t by loud mouthed, hostile argumentativeness was it? No, it was by gentle persuasion and…martyrdom.
So, it seems you can stick to your guns with good grounds to do so and not be a prejudiced, hater.
Our modern secular societies seem to have lost this distinction. If you stick to your guns you’re a hater. Why?
We have decided that all truth is relative and that no-one can hold ‘the truth’.
When we speak this truth, it shines a big spotlight on the world and the world prefers to hide in darkness. So, the light appears to ‘hate’ the darkness for it illuminates, exposing the dark, spoiling its cover. (John 3:16-36)
How can we encourage our kids to illuminate the world with the truth?
When my kids tell me that someone has been asking questions or criticizing their beliefs or just querying how they can possibly differ in what seems to be common opinion (e.g. same sex marriage) I try to encourage them to slow down and listen and ask more questions.
Well, first of all, Jesus did it. He didn’t always just fire straight back. He made people defend their ground and clarify where they were coming from.
Second, it stops you from jumping out of your skin trying to defend your ground.
What does it matter if you lose a little ground?
Doesn’t mean you’re wrong, just that you’re listening and you haven’t formed an answer yet.
Could also mean you’ve got a great answer but want to understand the other person better?
Isn’t this what the Bible talks about when it says, ‘always be ready to give an answer but with gentleness and respect’ (1Peter)?
Aren’t we meant to be 'quick to listen and slow to speak' (James 2)
Can our kids give good reasons for why they believe Jesus to be the truth?
Would you like some help? Free Parent Training Video!
Our goal mustn’t be just to raise believers in Jesus, but defenders who can give good reasons for their belief that Jesus is the truth. Otherwise they may not be able to withstand the secular onslaught.
If you would like some help, I’ve got a free video that I’ve put together to give you some tips on how to tackle the subject of truth and how we can know there is truth. It’s called What’s Truth? Parent Training Video.
I’ve also included something special for your kids to start getting their heads around it…as Bonus Music Video, from brand new music by one of my aliases, Skito.
So are we raising bigots?
- Not if we teach them to accept there will be other views that disagree with ours.
- Not if we teach our kids to listen, ask questions and answer respectfully.
- Not if we raise kids to ‘bear with others in love’.
But this does not mean we must raise our kids to believe everyone’s viewpoint is equal.
Nor that their belief is just personal, private and irrelevant to the wider world.
That’s not tolerance, that’s avoiding the need for tolerance. That’s sticking your head in the sand and shutting down conversation. That’s called pretending.
No, we must raise our kids to believe there is truth for all and it has been made clear for all to see.
Because Jesus’ claim is for being ‘the truth’, the exact representation of God’s being.
Jesus claimed to be the only way, the exclusive revelation of God to man.
Jesus commands us to love others. We can’t do this by not by sharing his word, by silencing it.
That is why we speak, we hold out, we offer, we persuade with gentleness and respect the good news of his death and resurrection on our behalf.
That’s the truth that we celebrate at Easter.
The truth that light has come into the world, but men loved darkness because their deeds were evil.