Tolerance. It’s a good thing, a socially desirable thing, isn’t it? What could possibly be wrong with tolerance?

I’m so glad you asked. Here’s what’s wrong: The magnificently sold idea of tolerance is, in fact, destroying our highest and best values in life. Twenty-five years ago, had you described our society as it now exists, nobody would have believed that we would ever fall so far.

Movies, television and magazines have become, for the most part, dumpster diving for the senses. Patriotism now is for losers. Honesty, it’s believed, is held high today only by fools. Chastity has become suspect, a concept fit only for the unsophisticated–or so our media would have us believe. Defending our national security is wrong-headed as well. And so it goes. Endlessly.

How did we get to this upside-down, Alice-in-Wonderland place?

Via tolerance–even though it makes no sense to view tolerance as a good thing.

To illustrate: If a multiple-choice test asked how you would like others to view you, would you say your highest hope is that others would tolerate you? Not love you, value you, appreciate you or esteem you, just tolerate you? I doubt it.

Tolerance is a bill of goods sold to us, in sweet and persuasive tones, by dishonest people driving a variety of agendas, all intent on destroying our way of life. Tolerance, goes the seductive spiel, is the high and lofty attitude of a good person, a sophisticated person; those without tolerance have hearts of stone, care for nobody but themselves, and probably don’t bathe with any regularity.

Once we believe this snake-oil, tolerance becomes a part of our self-image. We want to be seen as good, sophisticated, with a warm heart. The picture comforts us and feeds our egos, but accepting the hype as reality puts us on the road to death. To maintain our wonderful self-image, we must tolerate everything–or we cease to be good or sophisticated or warmhearted–or clean. And we can draw no lines beyond which we will not go; tolerance is all or nothing.

Think not? Try to stand for something good, something as benign as love of country, say, that they don’t like. However pleasant and reasonable you are, the tolerance police–mighty masters of hypocrisy–will let loose a barrage of angry, vindictive name-calling like you’ve never heard before. And every name they call says you’re a bad person. You’re a bigot, a racist, a jingoist–even if what you said has nothing to do with any of it.

The name-callers’ goal, after all, is not to speak truth, but to shame you into silence. If it works, you further embolden their agenda, but you move down the road toward a dead-end where you will find it necessary to tolerate evil. Somehow to prove that you’re a good person. And that’s a living death.

An old saying tells us if we don’t stand for something, we’ll fall for anything–and too many of us have fallen for the feel-good, act-stupid idea of tolerance.

The Bible has no truck with tolerance; it speaks of standing for what is good and valuing each other. We’re to do what is right, to love mercy and to walk humbly with God.

That snake in the garden is the one that came up with the idea of tolerance.

Author's Bio: 

About the author: Bette Dowdell is a former IBM Systems Engineer, a small business consultant and software company owner. A lifelong people lover, she authored How to be a Christian Without Being Annoying, an encouraging book about how the Bible describes Christianity, and of Quick Takes on Life, a no-cost, weekly e-mail subscription. You can read about both the book and subscription opportunity–and contact Bette–at