Often, Christians are accused of intolerance for holding certain viewpoints and beliefs. Our culture contends that we can only respect someone if we agree with every action they take. While it doesn’t feel good to be labeled intolerant, we also shouldn’t shy away from hard conversations about our faith simply out of fear of being labeled a certain way.
So how can we graciously enter into conversations about our beliefs with those who disagree with us, perhaps even stand ready to accuse us? Greg Koukl, founder of the blog Stand to Reason, offers this helpful approach:
If you’re placed in a situation where you suspect your convictions will be labeled intolerant, bigoted, narrow-minded, or judgmental, then turn the tables. When someone asks for your personal views about a moral issue, preface your remarks with a question.
Say, “You know, this is actually a very personal question you’re asking. I don’t mind answering, but before I do, I want to know if it’s safe to offer my views.
“So let me ask you a question: Do you consider yourself a tolerant person or an intolerant person? Is it safe to give my opinion, or are you going to judge me for my point of view? Do you respect diverse points of view, or do you condemn others for convictions that differ from your own?”
Now when my friend gives her point of view, it’s going to be very difficult for her boss to call her intolerant or judgmental without looking guilty, too.
You can see the rest of Koukl’s helpful post here.
Of course, Christians must accept that sometimes we are going to be misunderstood. As Jesus said, “[Y]ou will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10:22). And Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing.”
Crosswalk contributor Dan Darling says this about being disliked and branded ‘intolerant’ for our faith: “We can change our church styles, we can do more works in the community, we can even call ourselves "Christ followers" (all good things to do), and yet, still, the world will hate us. Why? Because as Romans 8:7 says, the unredeemed mind is "hostile to God." 1 Corinthians 2:14 says that the carnal or fleshly mind "cannot discern" the things of God.”
When we remember these words from Scripture, we will be better prepared to handle tough conversations and the accusations that might follow. And using a reasoned approach to tough conversations like the one Koukl models above is a great way to enter into dialogue with those whom we disagree.
Have you ever used this approach when speaking with a non-believer about your Christian faith? How helpful was it? Share in the comments section!
Kelly Givens is the editor of iBelieve.com.