P. Andrew Sandlin
society and its institutions are intolerant of some sort of behavior.
Unqualified toleration is not only nonsensical; it is impossible
and lethal. A societys toleration can be either coercive or
non-coercive. Since coercion is the exclusive province of the state,
the states intolerance is necessarily coercive. There is,
of course and there must be a non-coercive intolerance:
society can shun or frown on certain behavior or attitudes that
it deems sinful, unjust or in some way inappropriate. Intolerance,
whether coercive or non-coercive, always occurs in terms of a societys
or its institutions religious premises. A Christian society,
for example, coercively refuses the toleration of murder, rape,
and theft. To tolerate these acts would be culturally suicidal.
A Christian society will, in addition, use non-coercive measures
by means of its families, churches, and other institutions
to express intolerance by frowning on and shunning liars,
immoralists, con men, and so on.
a humanistic society like our own will establish its own unique
standards of intolerance. A humanistic society will not merely tolerate,
but actively encourage, sodomy, aborticide, and racism, while creating
a coercive, statist intolerance for vocal, public opposition to
sodomy, aborticide, and racism. A prime example of this is how Jerry
Falwells Biblically warranted opposition to homosexuality
was considered to have incited "hate crimes" against homosexuals.
Such crimes are truly evil and criminal, but the answer to that
problem is intolerance of crime against homosexuals, not intolerance
against godly, non-coercive opposition to homosexuals. It is highly
likely that, unless the religious premises of the United States
society changes soon, within a few years it will be illegal to declare
publicly what the Bible says about homosexuality. Meanwhile, a societys
non-coercive, as well as coercive, tolerance for homosexuality will
increase as homosexuals will be given superior rights and privileges,
quotas, and so forth. It will be a crime to criticize homosexuals,
but not a crime to persecute Christians.
is tolerance on Americas secular campuses today for almost
any belief or practice besides historic Christianity. Professors
are forced into humiliating "sensitivity training" sessions if they
criticize homosexual behavior, but they may mercilessly ridicule
Christianity. The rationale for the prohibition of non-coercive
intolerance against homosexuals and other egregious sinners is the
desire to avoid offending members of, for example, a particular
(deviant) sexual orientation. There is, of course, no interest at
all in wanting to avoid offending members of a different religious
orientation if that orientation is orthodox Christianity.
New Secular Moralitarians
the same is true in the non-coercive sphere of the modern church.
In most denominations, vocal Biblical teaching against apostasy,
liberalism, Biblical criticism, radical feminism, euthanasia, aborticide,
and homosexuality is simply not tolerated. These practices themselves,
of course, are widely tolerated and encouraged. The modern "liberal"
agents of ecclesiastical intolerance are quick to point in horror
to the medieval churchs unhealthy collaboration with the state
by which the former coercively enforced standards that should be
limited to the latter. We Christian lovers of liberty do not defend
this collaboration. However, we should expect that these same modern
"liberals" horrified at the sinful collaboration of church and state
in past Christian eras will invite the arm of a godless, secular
state today to coercively enforce intolerance against those who
cry out against depravity in the modern church and society. Its
not intolerance they oppose, you see, just intolerance of sin.
is an inescapable concept. If Christs church does not
employ non-coercive means of intolerance to suppress apostasy, unbelief,
homosexualism, aborticide, racism, and feminism, secularists and
liberals will employ the arm of the state to coercively suppress
(at the end of a gun barrel, if necessary) non-coercive intolerance
against these sins.
P. Andrew Sandlin is Executive Vice President of the Chalcedon
Foundation which since 1965 has been dedicated to applying
historic, Biblical Christianity in today’s world. He is the author
of Christianity: Bulwark of Liberty and several other works.