from Ethical Issues

The New Tolerance

Once, tolerance was defined as recognizing and respecting others' beliefs and practices even without sharing them. Tolerance would often necessarily entail enduring, or putting up with, someone or something not especially liked.

But today's definition of tolerance is very different. Now, a "tolerant" person views all values, beliefs, lifestyles, and truth claims as equal. This language shift is eloquently described in Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler's 1998 book, The New Tolerance.

Where this new tolerance reigns, there can be no heirarchy of truth, and no standard by which to discern between competing truth claims. Every man's position must be praised and considered equally valid. This is because the new tolerance considers all truth claims to be mere opinions--not absolutes that are true across time and cultures, but culturally created and culturally conditioned ideas.

By this new standard, any system of belief which claims to be transcendent and absolute--making truth claims that are not qualified as relative according to time, place, and person--is considered to be "intolerant." In a society which scorns absolutes and denies the existence of any natural law written on the heart, or any intrinsic human nature, there can be only one universal virtue--tolerance--and that virtue must be enforced with almost religious fervor.

The authors say this state of affairs in ominously reminiscent of the language of "Newspeak" from George Orwell's novel 1984. Among the Orwellian tactics now in use, they say, is the labelling of any disagreement or objection in "homophobic."