by Michael Wagner. July 10, 2013.
The cause of homosexual rights has made tremendous gains in recent years. Numerous countries now allow same-sex marriage. Many American states have legalized same-sex marriage, and it looks like the whole USA is rapidly moving in this direction.
People who oppose homosexual rights are often accused of being intolerant. This is especially true of conservative Christians whose opposition to homosexuality is rooted in the Bible and historic Christian teaching. Traditional Christians cannot accept that homosexuality is the equivalent of heterosexuality because they believe that God condemns homosexuality. Such a perspective is obviously intolerant by popular modern standards.
Is it correct to see the historical Christian position on homosexuality as intolerant? Yes, orthodox Christianity views homosexual behaviour as sinful and wrong. Christianity, in this sense, does not tolerate homosexuality.
In the modern popular view, this means that people who support homosexual rights are “tolerant” whereas conservative Christians are “intolerant.” However, when they view things this way, the supporters of homosexual rights are really just flattering themselves; they aren’t any more tolerant than Christians. The only difference is in what they tolerate and what they don’t tolerate.
The bottom line is this: everyone has a worldview, that is, a basic set of assumptions about the nature of reality and the meaning of life. Christianity is a worldview, and it was the worldview underlying Canadian government and society until relatively recently. This is why homosexuality was criminalized until 1969 and why homosexual activists had to fight for decades after that to change other laws they considered discriminatory. Canada’s original Christian foundation did not provide any basis for homosexual rights.
However, in the period after World War Two, Canada changed rapidly. Christianity began losing its privileged position as the foundational worldview of government and society, and a new worldview took its place. I call this new worldview “secular humanism”; others might choose a different term. But whatever you call it, the underlying philosophical basis of Canadian society changed from Christianity to something else. This new worldview is tolerant of homosexuality and many other sexual practices that orthodox Christianity deems immoral.
But what the new worldview will not tolerate is opposition to homosexuality and opposition to the public policies developed in favour of homosexuality, such as same-sex marriage. It does not tolerate the Christian view on these matters.
All worldviews have a concept of ethics that perceives certain things as good and others as bad. No worldview will tolerate everything.
In Canada, some Christians (e.g. Stephen Boissoin in Alberta), have been brought before government agencies to be punished for expressing their views. In other cases (e.g. Damian Goddard), they have been fired for supporting traditional marriage. These people were punished because their views reflected a commitment to the sexual morality of Canada’s original Christian foundation.
Clearly, the issue is not one of “tolerant” supporters of homosexuality versus “intolerant” conservative Christians. Instead, it is an issue of two worldviews (secular humanism versus Christianity) that differ over what should be tolerated and what should be forbidden.
Many Christians consider it ironic that their views on sexual morality are shouted down and suppressed in the name of tolerance. Isn’t tolerance supposed to be about having a diversity of views competing in the marketplace of ideas? In an abstract sense, yes. But we don’t live in an abstract society. All societies are based upon particular worldviews, and those worldviews provide parameters that limit what is permissible. Within a secular humanist society, public opposition to homosexuality will be restricted to some degree. In a traditional Christian society, homosexuality will be restricted to some degree.
It is important for Christians to understand this reality so that they don’t feel guilty about their intolerance. The people who are so indignant about Christian opposition to same-sex marriage are just as intolerant as conservative Christians. What’s different about these people is that they congratulate themselves for their tolerance while shouting down or punishing the Christian view; they don’t see the irony or hypocrisy in such a situation—suppressing someone else’s viewpoint in the name of tolerance.
In sum, then, the debate over homosexual rights is a conflict between two worldviews embracing different concepts of morality. People on each side will consider those on the other side to be intolerant, and for good reason, namely, because both sides are intolerant.
Theologian Andrew Sandlin has pointed out that “intolerance is an inescapable concept” for all worldviews. This is a nice way of summarizing the situation, and it helps to expose the fact that those who accuse Christians of intolerance unavoidably suffer from the same affliction themselves.
Source: Freedom Press Journal