Tolerance is everywhere, and tolerance is everything. From the Coexist bumper stickers to the Google Doodle for April 1, 2017, symbols depicting all worldviews “getting along” together are prevalent. Nor is this sentiment confined to bumper stickers and Google pages. Pushes for tolerance are getting more blatant. A recent Coca-Cola commercial features the entire family fawning over the pool boy (including the teenage son). Even some children’s books are venturing into this realm, like the 12th installment of Captain Underpants, which includes characters who are gay (in this case, “Old Harold and his husband.”) And a quick internet search of “preschool books about homosexuality” reveals there are a number of books on the subject, from Mommy, Mama, and Me to Daddy’s Roommate. The objective is clear: make children believe, from a very young age, that this behavior is normal and acceptable. It’s something to be not only tolerated, but accepted and embraced. But here’s the question: is this tolerance, or is it propaganda?

Now, if the word propaganda makes you uncomfortable, it should. It’s not a pretty idea. People equate propaganda with brainwashing and mindless masses of people and… well, the Nazis. Propaganda has certainly been around much longer than Nazi Germany, but they perfected it to an art form. Hitler even made a specific position for Minister for Propaganda and Enlightenment, filled by one Dr. Joseph Goebbels. Look at a few quotes attributed to Goebbels:

A lie told once remains a lie, but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth.

This is the secret of propaganda: Those who are to be persuaded by it should be completely immersed in the ideas of the propaganda, without ever noticing that they are being immersed in it.

Not every item of news should be published. Rather must those who control news policies endeavor to make every item of news serve a certain purpose.
This is the ideology they implemented in Nazi Germany, but is it happening right here in the land of the free and the home of the brave? In the 1989 book After the Ball: How America will conquer its fear and hatred of Gays in the 90s by Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen, the authors use terms like “desensitization,” “jamming,” and “conversion” to change public perception of homosexuality. They say, “We are safest, in the long run, if we can actually make them like us. Conversion aims at just this. We mean conversion of the average American’s emotions, mind, and will, through a planned psychological attack, in the form of propaganda fed to the nation via the media…” (Italics mine)

Propaganda via the media? Do we see a truly fair and balanced view of the LGBTQ movement on the news? Women’s rights issues? Or are people who hold to traditional views of marriage labeled as intolerant and old-fashioned? “Pro-life” people have now been relabeled as either “pro-birth” only or as “anti-abortion,” both specifically negative terms. Even the terms used by the media convey a specific message. That certainly smacks of propaganda.

Hitler proclaimed that “… all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan.” Does everyone understand what is meant by the “tolerance” slogan? My thirteen-year-old son does. When I asked him about tolerance, he said, “We’re supposed to be okay with things like transgender and the gay lifestyle and other religions and stuff.” I asked, “So what about Christianity? Is that supposed to be tolerated too?” His immediate answer was, “No. We aren’t included.”

Why is that? Because Christianity itself is intolerant, some may answer. But is that true? I argue no. Tolerance does not mean blindly accepting harmful or sinful behavior. Let’s say your ten-year-old regularly beats up his younger sister. Is this a behavior you would tolerate? I certainly hope not. But why? Couldn’t he just be expressing himself in a unique way? Why not accept him for who he is? Because his behavior is harmful and wrong. The loving thing to do as a parent is not to look the other way and tell others to tolerate him, but to correct his behavior. Opposing his behavior does not mean you hate your child. Quite the opposite. You’re showing him a better way because you love him. Or let’s say your brother is an alcoholic. Should you “tolerate” his behavior, because that’s “the way God made him?” Again, I should hope the answer is no. His behavior is harmful and potentially fatal to himself and hurts those around him.

Ah, but you see, a choice between two same-sex consenting adults isn’t harming anyone, you may object. Or is it? What about children living with two mommies or two daddies? This brochure put out by the Ruth Institute (nothing to do with me, by the way–we just happen to share a name) indicates otherwise. “I felt it was better to be a gay male, or even a transgender male, than it was to be a little girl growing up. I always felt that I wasn’t lovable because I did not see the men in my life loving women,” claims a woman who was raised by her father and a series of his male partners. Children raised by same-sex couples have a higher risk for serious emotional problems, ADHD, learning disabilities, behavioral issues (such as being arrested and/or pleading guilty to a non-minor offense), and more. They are more likely to be forced to have sex against their will, and women are more likely to have a larger number of sexual partners than children who are raised in traditional families. (And if you’re looking for more substantive data, here is their full 15-page report detailing how they went about their study and why it’s more accurate than previous studies that concluded children raised in same-sex homes were no different than those raised in homes with a married mother and father. It’s worth a read.)

Besides the children, what of those individuals who choose a LGBTQ lifestyle? Are they harming themselves? The author of Catholic, Gay, and Feeling Just Fine believes so. He is a Catholic man who struggles with the temptation of homosexuality but chooses to remain celibate, and he understands that the Church is not being hateful or condescending when they refuse to condone the lifestyle. He says, “Is it hard to be gay and Catholic? Yes, because like everybody, I sometimes want things that are not good for me. The Church doesn’t let me have those things, not because she’s mean, but because she’s a good mother… So, yes, it’s hard to be gay and Catholic—it’s hard to be anything and Catholic—because I don’t always get to do what I want. Show me a religion where you always get to do what you want and I’ll show you a pretty shabby, lazy religion. Something not worth living or dying for, or even getting up in the morning for.”

So that leads us to this: Who, exactly, determines what is right and what is wrong? People who make our laws? Popular opinion? Or do we all make our own truths? A few decades ago, homosexuality was largely considered by society to be a sin, or at best, abnormal behavior. But within a shockingly short time span, gay marriage has been legalized and the LGBTQ community has gained strong momentum. Likewise, generations past would never have believed it possible that America would abort nearly 60 million children in the span of 44 years. So is it possible that over the course of the next few decades we will see other behaviors legalized? Child pornography? Drunk driving? Prostitution?

Here’s what it comes down to: despite any propaganda or pushes for tolerance, there is absolute truth, and it can be found in God’s Word. The Bible tells us that homosexuality is wrong. (Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.) It also tells us that even looking lustfully at another man or woman (other than your spouse) equates to committing adultery in your heart (Matthew 5:28). It informs us that being angry with your brother is the same as murder (Matthew 5:21-22). Ouch. Under those tough standards, every one of us is a murderer and an adulterer. Everyone is a sinner sorely in need of a Savior. Which is exactly why it’s so dangerous to gloss over a sin–any sin–under the umbrella of tolerance. Ignoring a sin and looking the other way in the name of tolerance isn’t doing anyone any favors.

The fact is that God is intolerant too. He could not tolerate the fact that our sin separated us from Him. So rather than sit by and leave us to our own devices, He sent Jesus into this sinful world to live a perfect life in our place. Jesus died on the cross to take the punishment our sins deserve. And He rose from the dead to prove that He is more powerful even than death. All who believe in Him will share eternal life with Him in heaven.

There will come a day, when all the lies will collapse under their own weight, and truth will again triumph.

Interestingly, that quote is also attributed to Joseph Goebbels. Apparently he knew that propaganda could only go so far before truth once again prevailed. And on the Last Day, God’s truth will triumph loud and clear, because “at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:10-11). Some of us will confess Him joyfully, as our Savior, while others will do so with deep regret, acknowledging a Lord they scorned on this earth. There’s no need to meet Jesus as your Judge one day. He lived for you. He died for you. He rose for you. And that’s a message I will gladly tolerate and spread everywhere, because it means everything.

Photo is IMG_9612 by Patrick Denker