Having spent more than two-thirds of my life in the pageantry and entertainment industry, fifteen of those years serving as a full-time coach for Miss USA and Miss America contestants, it is easy to see the beauty of tolerance. In the pageantry circuit tolerance isn’t just promoted; it is expected. In fact, if you are asked an interview question, and you share your opinion, but it is not inline with the secular worldview, you are considered to be ignorant and intolerant. If you are going to be Miss USA, the next reality television star, or a multimillion dollar real estate guru, having this stigma following you is not an option. Or is it?
The church once held the view that being tolerant was loving someone even when you disagree with their behavior, but it didn’t stop there. This type of tolerance, known as “traditional tolerance,” as Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell call it in their recent book, The Beauty of Intolerance, meant loving people as they were while helping them see truth as objective for all human beings.
The Beauty of Intolerance argues that traditional tolerance has been replaced with “cultural tolerance” which goes beyond loving people for who they are; you must accept their beliefs and decisions as accurate and true for them, even if they aren’t true for you. When this is not done, you are being intolerant. They argue that “it is possible to truly love and accept people with whom we significantly disagree…even if such an approach is increasingly considered intolerant” (p. 18).
The book is built on the biblical narrative of truth (i.e., moral truth is based on the character of God, which is objective and universal) as opposed to the cultural narrative, which claims that moral truth comes from the individual (i.e., you are the creator of your own truth) and is known through making the decision to believe it and to experience it (p. 19).
The first few chapters of the book gives everyday examples of families struggling with generational gaps of tolerance as it relates to homosexuality, premarital sex, and stealing. In these examples each person is doing what he or she feels is right as an individual. Josh and Sean provide a compelling case against cultural tolerance due its lack of showing respect for one another. They argue that cultural tolerance disrespects the other person because we are not looking out for their best interest when we don't speak the truth in love.
The book opens (chapters 1-4) by focusing on understanding true tolerance in a world where anything goes. It then moves to the definition and redefinition of “love” (chapters 5-7). Josh and Sean say, “Every moral command from Jesus and the Bible comes from a heart of loving relationship with a desire to protect those he loves and provide for their best.” That is true love. Four of the last five chapters (8-11) relates cultural tolerance with education, the government, society and the church.
Three of my favorite quotes from The Beauty of Intolerance are:
Reading this book won’t only help clarify tolerance (or, intolerance), it will resurrect your heart; igniting a fire to love people deeply, the way Jesus first loved us. We must remember, “Intolerance of evil is not mean-spirited and condemnatory; it is actually the only way to be loving and caring” (p. 138).
Victoria Harris holds an M.A. in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. She is a former Miss Florida Teen USA and Mrs. Florida U.S. Victoria is a lover of Jesus - first, a wife - second, biological mom of a toddler and soon-to-be adoptive mom of a tween - third. Follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/vdharris, on twitter @VictoriaDHarris, or on instagram @VictoriaRatliffHarris.
Victoria is a wife, mom, ambassador of Jesus, and a lover of all things that involve learning.