Christianity, Unconditional Love, and Absolute Tolerance: Eating with Sinners (Matt. 9)

I have made a series of posts reviewing the book of Matthew to see if Christ taught a gospel that demanded that his followers must be tolerant of any and all behaviors (as some claim).  So far, this effort has shown that this is not the case at all.  See previous posts here.

Matthew 8 and 9 are mostly about Jesus performing miracles according to the faith of the people.  And while this is great, I am not sure it speaks much to the purpose of my review.  There is, however, an example frequently used by those who claim that Christianity demands absolute tolerance.  This example is given Matt. 9:10-11 which reads:

 10 ¶And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.

 11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?

Many will say that this shows Christ as being tolerant of the behavior of sinners.  But this depends on the definition and expectations of the tolerance.  Christ was willing to condescend to live on earth and mingle with sinful mankind for a time, and if this is all that is expected of tolerance, then yes, this example shows such tolerance.  But does this example go so far as to demonstrate that Christ was accepting of the sinful behavior of these people?  Reading a bit further shows that it does not:

12 But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.

13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will havemercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

So while Christ was kind and merciful to the people, he still calls them, and all of us, to repentance.  He even refers to them as sick, and in need of a physician.  This seems to me to be an excellent example of ‘hating’ the sin while loving the sinner.  And if we are to be followers of Christ, we need to be kind and merciful to all, while inviting them to change and repent of their sins.  And to do the same ourselves.

2 Responses to “Christianity, Unconditional Love, and Absolute Tolerance: Eating with Sinners (Matt. 9)”

  1. 1 J September 27, 2015 at 11:59 pm

    I agree with you. In fact, I’m arriving at the conclusion that absolute tolerance is the opposite of what Christ intended.

    Religion, specifically Christianity in our case, must serve a purpose. Tolerating sin does not reform the sinner or provide a path to salvation. It serves no religious purpose. It merely condones the sin whilst reducing the holiness of the Church. The most that can be said for this warped take on Christian philosophy is that it facilitates a certain amount of dysfunctional tolerance between disparate groups to the detriment of the more functional group. That which we tolerate we become over time.

    The purpose of Christianity is to provide a means of salvation. The Church’s primary purpose is and should be to provide a moral framework as a path out of sin and toward salvation, as well as a means to atone for past sins.

    The primary purpose of a True and Holy religion should be to reject the unrepentant sinner whilst providing a path for the repentant sinner. This paradigm leads to functional communities on Earth that would please God while not permanently condemning anyone, and the rejection of the evil that would hurt his people.

  2. 2 Eric Nielson September 30, 2015 at 6:32 am

    Thanks for the comment. The reject the unrepentant sinner part seems a little strong, but other than that I think we are on the same page.

    I am becoming convinced that what many seem to want is an anything goes religion, and they think they can turn Christianity into that via tolerance.

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