One of the saddest outcomes from today’s devolving culture is the rapid pace at which words are losing their meanings in our everyday conversations. Just this year alone, we have largely redefined long-standing words like marriage and racism. And, one more related word that is being redefined for the purpose of ill-intended weaponry is the word “bigot.” To illustrate, when you hear the word, bigot, what concepts or synonyms come to mind? If you oppose gay marriage are you a bigot? If you oppose importing ISIS-infiltrated Syrian refugees are you a bigot? If these questions give you even a second of pause, is it possible that you have been subconsciously conditioned by our twisted culture into accepting a definition for “bigot” that is significantly flawed? Or, has the culture twisted us all into a paralyzing pause? Without looking it up, can you even recall the correct definition of the word "bigot"?
According to the dictionary, a bigot is “a person who is completely intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion." And, the dictionary defines tolerant as “having a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, beliefs, practices, racial or ethnic origins, etc., differ from one's own.” So, based upon those definitions, what is necessary for someone to be guilty of bigotry? If someone disagrees with an opinion, are they a bigot? Do you currently disagree with an opinion on any important subject? The truth is that simple disagreement is not enough to meet the definition of bigot. If it were, everyone would be a bigot. But, tolerance does not equal agreement. And, bigotry does not equal disagreement. To illustrate, if opposing gay marriage makes someone a bigot, then by equal measure wouldn't opposing strictly traditional marriage make everyone else bigots? Further, are those who oppose polygamy bigots? Are you a bigot? You are probably not - at least by the correct definition that is.
The key words in the definition of bigot are “completely intolerant.” Completely intolerant is not simply disagreeing. And, it is also not public disagreement. You can both disagree and tolerate. Complete intolerance usually takes the form of trying to silence, punish, imprison, and/or even kill those with whom you disagree. Those fruits of true intolerance are in progressive order: silence, punish, imprison, and/or kill. That is a pretty wide range. But, in its mildest form, attempting to silence opposition, is bigotry - ugly bigotry. Based upon what we are currently observing in Western culture, who are those that are truly guilty of attempting to silence opposition? Allow me to assist. Below is a list of those in America and the West who are being actively targeted for losing their freedom of speech:
- Those opposed to “gay marriage”
- Political conservatives, especially the Tea Party
- Challengers to man-made climate change dogma
- Intelligent Design Theorists
- Pro-Life advocates
That is just a few, among many others. This blog has been faithful in recent months to point out clear examples even in America where many are actively and aggressively seeking to silence one or more of the above groups – that is not what America represents. Those are true examples of bigotry and intolerance – ironically carried out under the guise of opposing bigotry and intolerance. A Christian disagreeing with “gay marriage” but not silencing opposition, is not bigotry (unless you distort the word into something that it is not). But, seeking to subpoena pastors and indefinitely jail conscientious objectors is absolutely bigotry – and even by the strictest of definitions of the word.
If you have found yourself advocating in any way for the silencing of any opinion with which you disagree, then you have a very difficult question to ask about yourself. You might be guilty. And, ironically, if you are, you are probably also guilty of hurling the word at the very groups you disagree with and for all the wrong reasons. In fact, attempting to shame others by falsely charging them with bigotry, is in fact a cruel attempt to silence opposition – which is actually bigotry. Yes, ironically, inappropriately using the word “bigotry” as a weapon to halt free speech is the “pot calling the kettle ‘black’”. That is bigotry – hypocritical bigotry. Tolerance demands that you fairly (a.k.a. equally) honor the freedom of speech of everyone that you disagree with – everyone. After all, on this side of the grave, we will never have 100% agreement.
By the way, such silencing behavior is certainly not afforded Biblically either. Proverbs 24:23 says, “Partiality in judging is not good.” Acts 10:28 says, “And he said to them, ‘You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean.’” Acts 10:34-35 goes on to say, “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” The Bible is very clear about God's negative view of bigotry (or a punishing form of “partiality” as He put it).
Christian, as you stand firm in what God has clearly said, do not cower to those who use the vilest of terms to discredit your faith. And, instead of returning the insult, know that their words are already indicted by … their own words. And, as you stand firm for what God has said, be sure that you never show partiality. But, rather, show love to your enemies in equal measure as you would your friends.
I close with the clear words of 1 Peter 3:13-18, “Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.” Live inspired.
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