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The new intolerance

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The government’s Sexual Orientation Regulations have caused great concern among Christians in the UK who take a biblical view on homosexuality and moral values. A petition drawn up by the Lawyer’s Christian Fellowship states: ‘The regulations are a serious affront to the profession of the gospel and to the freedom of religion which this country has cherished for many generations. The regulations will force Christians to facilitate and encourage the practice of homosexual relationships and will force them to support the view that homosexual relationships are equivalent in worth and moral standing to heterosexual relationships.’

 

In the name of tolerance and liberalism a new intolerance is taking over our society. Adoption agencies will be closed down if they refuse to place a child with a homosexual couple. Christian Guest houses will have to take homosexual couples in as guests, church halls might have to be rented out to homosexual events, Christian printers will be forced to print material for homosexual causes. In fact there will be a pecking order of ‘human rights’ with the rights of homosexuals at the top of the list and the rights of Christians at the bottom of the list. Lesbian MP Angela Eagle interviewed on BBC2’s Newsnight said, ‘We can’t have exceptions.’ Everyone must conform to the new secular orthodoxy which is being imposed on us. The government has allowed minimal doctrinal exceptions for organisations which teach, practice or advance religion or belief provided they do not receive government funding. This means it is still not illegal to preach in a church service that homosexual practice is sinful in the eyes of God.

 

The media have focused mainly on Roman Catholic adoption agencies as victims of the new regulations, but evangelical Christians are also in difficulties over this issue. Even before these regulations came into force it was almost impossible for evangelical Christians to adopt children except through specifically Christian agencies because they would be screened out if they expressed negative views about homosexual practice or believe that Jesus is the only way to God.

 

Cornerstone, a Christian fostering agency in Stockton on Tees faces closure because of the new government regulations. The chairman of their trustees, Robin Singleton said, ‘Cornerstone was founded as an agency for Bible believing Christians who want to provide a ‘forever family’ to some of the most vulnerable children in our society. By any measure Cornerstone is a very successful agency with outstanding outcomes for our children. We are deeply concerned that our freedom to provide this service within a faith-based organisation is being denied. This lack of tolerance of Christians expressing their faith through service provision is of real concern and an outrageous infringement of our freedom.’

 

Dr John Lockley, a Bedfordshire GP, has written to Patricia Hewitt, asking for doctors to be given an opt out on homosexual adoption similar to the way they are protected over abortion. He said that doctors who refuse to give positive references to prospective homosexuals wanting to adopt may face being investigated by the General Medical Council if complaints are made against them. This could result in them losing their jobs.

 

Ironically Mark Hurst, a hotelier who runs a ‘gays only’ hotel in Blackpool has also opposed the new regulations. He is worried that he will be forced to accept heterosexual guests which will put off his regular homosexual clientele!

 

What is taking place in our society is part of a process which is happening across the western world. Education, the media and governments backed by international organisations like the UN and the EU are imposing a new world view which claims to be ‘tolerant’ of minorities, but is actually extremely intolerant of dissenters. In his book ‘The New Tolerance’ Josh McDowell describes this way of thinking: ‘The new tolerance teaches that all beliefs, values, lifestyles, and truth claims are equal. It is not enough for you (or your children) to live and let live. It is not enough for you to assert another person’s right to believe or say what he thinks is right. It is not enough to allow another person to disagree with what you believe or do. In order to be truly tolerant you must agree that another person’s position is just as valid as your own. In order to be truly tolerant you must give your approval, your endorsement, your sincere support to their beliefs and behaviours.’

 

This means you cannot say that on the basis of the absolute truth revealed in the Word of God some actions are good and some are evil or that we should obey God’s commandments. To do that is to discriminate against people who don’t want to obey God and contradicts the goals of diversity. In his book ‘An Introduction to Multicultural Education, Dr James Banks writes, ‘Multicultural education is inclusive. A lot of people are on the margins of society because of their race, class, gender or sexual orientation. Multicultural education is about bringing them to the centre, making one nation from many people. To do that we have to validate their experiences.’

 

The inclusion of sexual orientation with ‘race, class and gender’ is the issue which creates the problem. Whichever race, class or gender we are born into is not our decision and all people are equally loved of God regardless of these factors. But our sexual behaviour is a lifestyle choice and the Bible teaches that there is only one acceptable sexual relationship in the eyes of God, the relationship of a man and a woman who are joined together in marriage. It declares clearly that homosexual relationships and unmarried heterosexual relationships are sinful. The way back to God is open to all through repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, but the commandments of God do not change with the changing values of society.

 

What the ‘New Tolerance’ is demanding is that we must endorse the values, lifestyles and truth claims of all people, whether those involve homosexuality, abortion or any other view which may conflict with our Christian faith. It is not acceptable to ‘hate the sin, but love the sinner’ as the Lord Jesus did in his life and teaching. Under the views of the ‘New Tolerance’ you are required to respect and accept the values, beliefs and attitudes of other people no matter what these are.

 

As well as creating problems in the area of sexual morality this actually closes down any discussion with someone of another faith. If in the process of saying why I believe in Jesus, I say that I do not believe the teachings of the Koran or Buddhism I could be accused of being intolerant towards Muslims or Buddhists. The government’s version of the Religious Hatred Bill which was narrowly voted down last year threatened to do exactly this. It would have made it illegal to say that Jesus meant it when He said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father but by Me’ (John 14.6) and therefore He is the only way to God. By implication this statement is negative about other faiths being able to bring a person to a saving knowledge of God and so it could be considered ‘likely to stir up religious hatred’ according to this act.

 

Under the New Tolerance you should not make any negative judgements. The UN ‘Declaration of Principles on Tolerance’ states: ‘Tolerance involves the rejection of dogmatism and absolutism.’ There are plenty of dogmatic and absolute statements in the Bible! Of course the New Tolerance does make negative judgements about some people. It is not acceptable to be a paedophile or a racist for example. And increasingly it is not acceptable to be a Bible believing Christian or to speak out in favour of Biblical values.

 

Mr DeCicco, a city councillor in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada, was fined $1000 for remarks he made at a council meeting discussing a ‘gay pride’ parade. He described homosexual acts as ‘not normal and not natural.’ His barber’s shop was vandalised with ‘Homophobia Die’ scrawled on the door of his business. In a later interview he explained, ‘I’m not against lesbian and gay people but I don’t agree that I should have to endorse it.’ But actually the New Tolerance does require you not only to tolerate alternative life styles and beliefs, but also to endorse the validity of all views on moral and spiritual matters and all life styles. This is impossible for the Bible believing Christian who then becomes the victim of the intolerance of ‘tolerance’.

 

In the face of all this we should stand firm on the truth of the Word of God, knowing that our God does not change in order to fit in with the passing fashions of human behaviour and ideas. He tells us to change our ways. To stand for the truth will be increasingly unpopular as Jesus said, ‘You will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.’ Matthew 24.9. The ‘New Tolerance’ is one factor in bringing hatred and persecution of Christians to the nominal Christian countries of Europe and America.

 

It is also bringing a disintegrating chaotic society in which people are self-destructing through drink, drugs, violence, sexual immorality and family breakdown. In a backhanded sort of way the moral chaos and confusion of our time is a testimony to the truth of the Word of God. As our society abandons faith in God we do not discover greater liberty but growing control of what we can think and do. In 2 Peter 2 we read of the false prophets who will come in the last days of this age. ‘While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.’ A fitting assessment of the teachers of the New Tolerance.

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