George Orwell’s dystopian vision, expounded in his novel Nineteen Eighty-four, appears to be slowly and inexorably taking shape around us. The thought leaders of our society have constituted themselves into an unofficial Ministry of Truth, changing the meaning of words and inventing new words. The result — and make no mistake about it, this is the intended result — is that we are gradually losing our ability to think clearly.
Some of the same women who deplore the supposed subjugation of women to men in marriage will proclaim that the degradation of women by prostitution is evidence of the liberation of women, because a woman’s body is her own and she has a right to use it as she pleases. Orwell labelled this kind of thinking as doublethink: the ability to believe two opposing ideas at the same time and to believe that each one is entirely true.
In like manner, it appears to be possible to be an advocate for women’s “liberation” and at the same time be a supporter of the application of Sharia law in western society.
When it comes to homosexuality, the only acceptable point of view in our society today is unqualified approval and admiration. This is called tolerance, and no other point of view is tolerated. This sounds remarkable like the old definition of intolerance. Those of us who do not endorse the homosexual lifestyle but who harbour no hostility or ill will towards individuals caught up in that lifestyle are labelled intolerant. The meanings of tolerant and intolerant have been completely reversed.
Christians are labelled as intolerant if we actually believe and live as the Bible tells us. Any hint of disapproval of things approved by society is called intolerance. How can I be tolerant of things that I know to be wrong? I believe that it is right and good to be tolerant to the extent of not using force to prevent others from engaging in immoral conduct. That is not the same as approving such conduct. “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ephesians 5:11).
On a slightly different aspect of tolerance, is it enough for a Christian to be tolerant when it comes to cultural differences that are neither right nor wrong? The apostle Paul wrote: “there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11).
If Christ is all, and in all members of the church, then cultural differences (not sin but ordinary differences in outlook and practice that distinguish cultures) should not be seen hindrances to Christian fellowship, but as evidence of the grace of God to all mankind. They are significant in allowing us a broader vision of how saving faith in Jesus Christ is, and always has been, accessible to all people, anywhere, in every era