The Devastating Age of Tolerance
By W. L. Hughen
As a society we have lowered the walls of intolerance to the point that all kinds of "illegal immigrants" are flooding into our lives. The point has finally been reached where few of us still stand firmly on our convictions and principals. Perhaps the root cause is that we have been so weakened by our eroding sense of intolerance that we no longer have a storehouse of firm convictions. Without convictions we lose our direction. Conviction and toleration are two sides to the same coin. Our direction is rooted in those things we are willing to tolerate or not tolerate.
Uncontrolled and misdirected tolerance is a seed-bed of weakness in our character. It is the precursor of sinful compromise. It is the clay mixed with iron that create the unsteady feet on which we stand.
The pilot of our ship is formed by the things we are willing to tolerate. This, in turn, is created by the core set of beliefs we have in God, ourselves, and others.
Sadly, we are all tainted by the weaknesses that drift into our hearts that cause us to become more tolerant of the many things we used to believe were wrong. The "call of the wild" today is, "Be tolerant!" As a result of this compelling cacophony of pleadings, we have allowed the erosion of the walls of resistance, and now we have become excessively tolerant of all kinds of perverted behavior. Any mature adult will tell you how much our sense of morals have deteriorated just in the recent past. It was only a short time ago that the matters of abortion, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, profanity, promiscuous sex, pornography, and many others, were seldom mentioned in the public forum. They now are a matter of daily concern and discussion.
It often appears that we have allowed ourselves to become excessively tolerant because we fear being called prejudiced, or a bigot. Why do we fear this so much? I remember a saying we used to quote in childhood that stated, "Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me." We have forgotten this, haven't we?
Teenagers are notorious in the matter of conformity. They seem to have a tremendous drive to fit in ... to be like everyone else. The worst thing that could happen to one of them is to be called a nerd, or a bigot. They will tolerate almost anything to escape this label. Many have been destroyed by their loss of the ability to not tolerate certain things in their lives. The simple ability to say "no" is gone. Why is it that the leading cause of death among teenagers is suicide? What a sad commentary on our society. Something is wrong, dead wrong! Could it be, at least part of the answer is buried in the matter of being so tolerant they no longer have anything to stand for? And without something to stand for your identity is lost.
Today there are few champions of righteousness. It is sad that in order to find really great people we are compelled to search the pages of history. What has happened to people like Patrick Henry who refused to tolerate certain circumstances and drew a line in the sand, boldly proclaiming, "Give me liberty or give me death!?"
Contemporary society yields too many people whose convictions have atrophied in their constant need to be more tolerant. It has become more important to be politically correct than to be morally right.
Upon close scrutiny of our lives we too often realize that all our dials and buttons are set on the "okay" position. We must learn to click on the "no" button. Our parents did not teach us the wrong things to do--we did that naturally. They had to teach us what was right.
Sorrowfully, appeasement seems to be the call of the day. Don't offend anybody! Be tolerant to everything and everyone! We have quietly wallowed in this state of life for so long we are mostly unaware of the vicious effect it has had on our lives, and by extension, our society. We have become hearing impaired to the quiet rumblings in our spirit that tell us we ought to do something. Life has many layers, but most of the time we live on only one level. In our mad daily rush to meet the demands that constantly cry out to us ,we unintentionally tend to tolerate a level of spiritual darkness that drains from us the deep sense of peace and joy God intends for us to enjoy.
If one wishes to rise above the quality of life he now experiences, he must examine those things he tolerates, and then take the template of God's word and re-orient his life accordingly.
W. L. Hughen was born and reared in Northwest Florida. He was graduated from Oklahoma Baptist University and served as Minister of Music in several churches if Florida, Kentucky, Alabama, Texas, and Oklahoma. He was featured soloist and choral conductor for countless revivals. conferences, meetings, radio and TV. He reached the top of his field and was well-known among Southern Baptist Churches everywhere. He is now retired, and has become a talented writer. If you would like to write to Mr. Hughen, you can do so through the Letters page of this magazine.