One of the accusations often thrown at Christians is that they’re “bigoted”. The Oxford Dictionary defines “bigoted” as being “unreasonably intolerant”. That’s an interesting definition, because most often those who use the word are expressing their intolerance.
(BELLARIVA GLADIATORS: “Big Jam”)
I agree there’s no excuse for aggression or rudeness, but when someone tries to silence me by insulting me, and attempts to trash my opinion and my beliefs by calling me a “bigot” rather than by engaging in serious debate, he’s being hypocritical.
What exactly is “unreasonable” intolerance anyway? Most of us would agree that physical aggression or personal insults are unreasonable, but is it really unreasonable to disagree with someone?
Who decides what is “unreasonable” and what is “reasonable”? I say that once you let or encourage the government or the courts rule that expressing an opinion is “unreasonable intolerance” (for example, by calling it “hate speech”), you’re heading down the road to tyranny. And if you’re happy to let the government stifle free speech for someone else, what will you do when they stifle your free speech? Who will you go to for help, if as a society you’ve already ceded your right to speak?
The “b” word is a great leveler, a mace or a club with which to bludgeon the uppity and the dissenter into submission without the need for tiresome discussion or civil debate. A perfect one-two tactic in the world of getting your own way is to first use the “I” word to disorient and confuse your opponent:
“You’re so ignorant!”
…and then to finish him off with the “b” word.
The word “bigot” is not, of course, generally used in reference to Christians who don’t believe anything. You know, the ones who think that God can’t possibly have an opinion, that He can’t raise his son from the dead, and that He wants everyone to do just whatever they want to do. It’s directed at the ones who actually stand up and say something different to what the prevailing and politically correct thinking of the day is, as though they really believe something else to be true.
Bigotry is not just a Christian disease, it’s a human one, so that when a famous evolutionist or a university professor looks down his nose at someone who disagrees with him, and calls him “ignorant”, “dishonest”, “deluded” and “dangerous”, then refuses to consider his opinion or to allow others to consider his opinion, he is being every bit as bigoted as any Christian can be.
Believers, so long as they are not being aggressive or spiteful, should see accusations of “bigotry” and “ignorance” as complements and blessings, because Jesus said:
“Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven…Woe to you when all men speak well of you…” (Luke 6:22, 26 NIV).
Yes, we do need to treat others with genuine politeness, love and respect, but we also need to have the intestinal fortitude to unashamedly declare and defend what we claim to believe and know. Love is not keeping our mouths shut about our faith or compromising with things that God hates in the assumption that He understands-love is declaring the truth, first in obedience to God, but also for the benefit of the hearer.