Matthew 13 is a long chapter with several parables taught by Jesus. For the purpose of this topic, the parable of the wheat and the tares really stands out. Up to this point, the gospel of Matthew has largely been a gospel of repentance, with nothing resembling an ‘Anything Goes’ gospel. But the parable of the wheat and the tares provides an example of significant tolerance for those who are characterized as the children of the wicked one.
In this parable, a man sows good seed in the ground, and at night an enemy sowed tares among the wheat. When the seeds grew, the servants noticed that there were tares among the wheat. They asked the man if they should gather the tares out from the wheat. The man said that they should not, lest they should root up some wheat along with the tares. The servants were to wait until the time of the harvest. At that time the tares would be gathered and burned, while the wheat would be gathered into the barn.
If one wants to make a case for absolute tolerance, this would likely be the go to parable. Here the Lord is saying to leave the tares alone, even though they are clearly tares. The reason for this is to avoid destroying some of the wheat by hastily weeding out the tares. In the wake of the recent controversial policy, this parable may be just as applicable to current events as my recent post involving the destroying leaven from 1 Cor. 5. Should the servants of God be ridding themselves of a destroying leaven as Paul suggests? Or should the rather leave the tares alone as Christ suggests? Both instructions seem to apply, as do the examples.
Other than by revelation from God, I do not think one can know for sure what course of action should be taken. Do circumstances warrant purging a destroying leaven (to protect the saints), or do they warrant leaving the tares alone until the harvest (to protect the saints)?
The parable of the wheat and the tares present an impressive amount of tolerance, and while this tolerance is not necessarily absolute (the tares are tares, and they will be burned at the harvest), it does seem to border on it, suggesting that sometimes we should leave the purging to God.