We live in an imperfect world. Since this is so, everything from mites to sea horses, larks to katydids, cabbages to kings, will have imperfections.
We know that this is the case because of the fall of mankind. But it also serves a good purpose. We make choices and we are always forced to choose between imperfections. In those choices, our values surface. And when our values surface, we can see what kind of people we are.
It is not possible to choose any endeavor or any organism or any possession without tolerating some imperfection.
Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox. (Prov. 14:4)
You can have a clean crib, or you can have an ox. But you cannot have both.
When you purchase a car, you can have luxury, power, comfort, reliability, looks, and affordability, but you cannot have them all. What you choose will show, in part, what kind of a person you are.
You cannot find a perfect human. There will always be flaws. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. This truth can turn us into angry misanthropes or proud Pharisees, but both options are hard ways to live.
The fact is this: we live in a fallen world, and the effects of the fall echo in every state, every church, every organization, every gathering, every human. You won’t find perfection here. This is true whether you are seeking a spouse, a friend, an employer, an employee, a pastor, a counselor. You won’t find one that is perfect.
The deeper question is “what is intolerable?” and how you answer that question shows what kind of a person YOU are.
On the one hand, you cannot tolerate everything without destroying yourself. On the other hand, you cannot be intolerant of everything without locking yourself in a tiny box, alone against the world. If you pull up all the tares, you will have nothing else.
Soon you are left with yourself and will eventually find yourself saying, along with Bob Dylan, “God, I’m glad I’m not me.”
Which brings us to the point of this post:
Why do so many leaders tolerate Trinitarian heresy, Christological heresy, heterodoxy on justification, Federal Vision (condemned by EVERY NAPARC Fellowship), rejection of the orthodox creeds, while also tolerating unrepentant drunkards, child abusers, spousal abusers, fornicators, pornographers, embezzlers, and thieves? For everyone who says I am being too harsh, I can give you the list of all of the above that are still in good standing, some even in office, who have done all of the above.
When at the same time women writing books, growing in knowledge, studying theology, correcting errors, protecting themselves, and separating from evil are considered intolerable?
To test this theory, ask yourself a question. There are two churches that you might attend. One has a woman leading a Bible study. The other has man in a three piece suit teaching that one must be covenantally faithful in order to be justified. Which do you choose?
One has a woman leading a conference. The other teaches that the Son is eternally subordinate to the Father. Which do you attend?
Which one do you find intolerable?
At the beginning of 2020, I saw a tweet that claimed that 90 percent of church-goes would tolerate theological heresy over political heresy. I said to myself, “That can’t possibly be true.”
And as we pick up the pieces of our congregations, we realize that it was indeed true.
This blog has been marinating a while. I have written and re-written it. But it needs to be said: what you find intolerable says more about who you are as a person than anything else.
23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.
24 “Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! (Matt. 23:23-24)
When I see what is invading the Reformed and conservative evangelical world, I mourn the state of the church. We tolerate racism, abuse, pedophilia, pornography, hatred and violence.
And even worse than all of those: we tolerate using God’s name in vain for the purpose of winning elections, which God hates. We tolerate blasphemy in the pulpits. We tolerate gross errors concerning justification, including federal vision, final salvation by faith AND works, calling Jesus the wife of the Trinity, denial of the personhood of the Holy Spirit, and on it goes.
Don’t get me wrong. Not everyone would actually say they HOLD to those things. They would say, “Yeah. There are some problems there. But he is really good calling out sin. He is really good fighting the culture wars. He is really good on marriage and child-raising…” We carefully strain out the intolerable gnats and swallow the camels whole.
But what we find intolerable, the gnats in our soup, is women writing books; calling out sexual assault; critiquing celebrity preachers; anything that smacks of being “woke”; crying out for justice; demanding orthodoxy in the pulpit and in our books.
I’ve seen preachers swallow the camel of subordinationism and preach valiantly against skinny jeans and long hair. I’ve seen preachers embrace Oneness Pentecostalism and denounce Harry Potter. I’ve seen preachers say “no creed but Christ” and lead the pledge of allegiance from the pulpit. I’ve seen churches embrace the Ku Klux Klan and condemn women wearing pants to hell.
What is desperately needed are preachers who preach the gospel.
2:20 Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations–
21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,”
22 which all concern things which perish with the using– according to the commandments and doctrines of men?
23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.
3:1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. (Col. 2:20-3:1)
We have made our home too much in this world. What God desires of us is for us to learn to love what he loves and hate what he hates. We ought to strive to conform our thoughts to HIS thoughts. Our flesh seeks to twist God’s thoughts to conform to our opinions and biases. We search the scriptures for justifications of our pet ideas, when we really ought to be learning to conform our thoughts to his.
When we call our Savior the wife of the Trinity and denounce skinny jeans and long hair as effeminate, we might have problems with discernment.
It makes me wonder what we really worship.
7 responses to “Imperfections and things that are intolerable”
Wow, this is very illuminating! This really makes my thinking clearer. That writing and rewriting has paid off! Thank you.
I’m a recovering people pleaser and posts like this are extremely helpful. People pleasing, while appearing Biblical on the outside, is actually nothing but pride and paganism on the inside. It is NOT from the Holy Spirit.
A lot of it revolves around being “tolerant” of what others think and want and expect and demand from you—-to the point of burn out and bitterness on your end You give and give in, and eventually you give up or you have nothing left to give.
The burdens they placed on you finally cause you to buckle under strain, at which point their pointing fingers come at you: we find your lack of tolerance to be intolerable. Keep tolerating us (aka we won’t budge) and we’ll keep tolerating you (aka the burdens won’t stop).
It’s not quite on par with the heart of your post; but it does fit in some ways. Example: it’s okay to tolerate racism, sexism or abuse within the family (or church family) because you make exceptions for your nearest and dearest. We keep quiet in order to keep the family together. We are tolerant in the name of not causing trouble.
It’s not okay to tolerate the victims of racism, sexism or abuse (even if and especially if the victims are family or church family) because they won’t make exceptions for their nearest and dearest. They won’t keep silent in order to keep the family together. They caused trouble by NOT being tolerant.
People pleasing never allowed for boundaries. You took orders and tolerated them out of fear of them, disguised as faith in Him. It felt like being tossed from wave to wave, to the point of sickening the soul.
The best solution, is the only solution: Yes, God IS love (don’t fall for the “you don’t love others if you displease them” lie) but the Word is FULL of things He does NOT love, is NOT tolerant of, and is NOT pleased with. And one of them is “religious bondage in the name of religious freedom.”
I didn’t know there was a movement against skinny jeans; I thought it was more against leggings; wearing them as if they are pants. Which they are :-).
Yesterday there was a rant on Twitter about “effeminant” men with skinny jeans and long hair.
It was quite silly.
Nicely put; silly indeed!
I felt I had missed the point of your post; that our level of tolerance says a lot about ourselves. I should have included that; not just pointed it out in others.
When in the pits of people pleasing the one thing I wouldn’t tolerate was humanizing myself. That sounds pitiful (it kind of is), but it was extremely prideful. I refused to to believe I had just as much intrinsic worth in Him as any other creation (or new creation) of His. And it showed. Insisting on a false yoke of inferiority is just as destructive as a false yoke of superiority.
People rejoice when truth is spoken. I rejoice here!!
Oh my goodness so timely is your article for me personally. Thank you. God has been showing me a lot about perfection lately. I left a 36 year marriage filled with these discrepancies. It’s been three years and I am still healing and loving the truth my God is showing me, and learning about the hypocrisy of perfectionism. Such as, I do not have to be what somebody else says I have to be for them, while they are none of the things that they say they are. Also that I do not have to be perfect. (As if) and I do not have to be perfect FOR anyone. Only Jesus is perfect anyway. I can just BE. BE loved.