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The Tolerance Shoe is on the Other Foot

The tolerance shoe is on the other foot now.

Considering recent events, the Presidential election of 2016, it’s becoming clear that the tolerance shoe is on the other foot. At least that’s clear to the people marching in the streets of several US cities protesting the election of Donald Trump. If there is a word that they use consistently to describe how they feel about their new circumstances it is fear. Fear of what? Well, they fear several things I’m certain, but one may stand above the rest. They fear retribution.

Oh, I know, they say that they fear the reversal of the progress that they’ve made. They fear bigotry and racism. They fear the possibility of war. While I’ll admit that some of their fears are legitimate, many are self-contrived and lack good evidence and most stem from a lack of understanding of conservativism and the unknown of the future.

Conservatives, spearheaded by Christian social conservatives, are in control of the General government…all of it. They fear our heavy hand.

Walk a mile

It’d be easy to be so jaded by the last eight years that Christians could display a huge lack of compassion for those who are concerned about our new power trip. But, it’s the last eight years that should inform our compassion. We’ve walked eight years in the shoes that they now wear and that’s at least a mile, a mile of fear, unfaithful fear.

While much of our fear was partially realized none of it was justified. As Christians, there was nothing to fear. God never left us, just as he promised. That is, or should be, the Christian understanding, no matter what the political situation seems to indicate.

Crop rotation

We’ve spent the last eight years making arguments to convince progressives of our worldview. We’ve also attempted to conserve religious freedom and convince progressives that freedom of expression is good for everyone. The culture hasn’t bit and in turn it’s used the courts coerce us into affirming their worldview. Those battles are still fresh in all our minds.

At this point, it may not be a great solution to attempt to convince progressives that each conservative position on the various issues will benefit them. I don’t believe that ground is unplowed. I also don’t believe it’s very fertile and the evidence is the lack of yield. Sometimes a little crop rotation is in order to be truly productive.

Time heals wounds and that’s probably a much-needed remedy. Furthermore, there is a generation watching to see if Christianity is the bully that their professors so eloquently assert. Before conservatives resume culture war from a superior position, those things might be considered.

Understand real conservatism

The greatest misunderstanding may be that of “conservatives”. Many so-called conservatives, especially Christians, have no idea what real conservatism is. Several of those are progressive, only holding socially conservative views on certain issues.

Real conservatism is not determined by a person’s opinion of an issue like abortion, same-sex marriage, or bathroom choice for the gender confused. On the contrary, real conservatism informs those opinions.

For example, a person may be pro-life, but that doesn’t make them conservative. They may be merely convinced of the pro-life position. The same person may also believe that it is the governments proper function to tax citizens for the explicit purpose of building homes for single mothers. That is not a conservative position. This person is likely a progressive who is convinced that abortion is wrong.

Jeffersonian conservatives

A true conservative or what I’d call a Jeffersonian, would be pro-life though, not merely because they are convinced that abortion is wrong but because of what they are trying to conserve. Basic human rights such as described in our Declaration of Independence are what Jeffersonian conservatives protect. They are at least life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Abortion denies a human the basic right of life and therefore as a person conserving that principle, conservatives necessarily oppose it.

Self-determination is a basic human right

Not only do real conservatives conserve these basic human rights, they also understand that groups of people with the same political and social ideas have the right of self-determination. Self-determination undergirds conservative principles and is foundational in being truly conservative. This means that even though a section of people may disagree with another section about how best to govern, neither group has the right to coerce the other to conform to their idea.

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitles them …”-Thomas Jefferson

“It is a happy truth that man is capable of self-government, and only rendered otherwise by the moral degradation designedly superinduced on him by the wicked acts of his tyrant.” –Thomas Jefferson to M. de Marbois, 1817.

That Devine entitlement of an independent station is the right to self-determination, the right to self-governance. It is derived from Christian principles and undergirds federalism. That principle is what conservatives, at least American conservatives, guard.

What does self-determination have to do with tolerance?

When conservatives begin to understand that sections of people with like ideas have the God given right to govern themselves how they see fit; when we realize that our own experience is to have been on the receiving end of a blunt tolerant stick for eight years; the tolerance shoe is on the other foot. The question then becomes, “how will we wear it?”

If the shoe fits, wear it well

We’ve been battling over the etymology of the word tolerance for some time. Progressives have high jacked the word, we complain. Tolerance has become affirmation by coercion and we haven’t liked it one bit.

But, now we’re walking around sporting a pair of tolerance roach killers and let’s see how we strut. We have a choice to make and so far, I don’t see very many people making good ones, at least on social media.

Jesus wore Lucchese’s

When trying to figure out how we should act toward fearful people while we are in a tactically superior position, it’s best to look to the Master. Jesus is the epitome of a person who is in a tactically superior position. His tolerance shoes were a pair of sharp toed cowboy boots. When it comes to tolerance, Jesus was walking tall. His dealings with fearful people are conveniently documented in the Gospels, so…

First, take a page out of the Jesus book. Jesus wasn’t improperly condescending. He didn’t hedge on the truth, but he was a loving tactician in his delivery of it. Jesus didn’t use his authority to coerce people. He freed dissenters with the truth he delivered and allowed others to go their own way.

True conservatives understand the wisdom of tolerance. Living peaceably with folks who disagree with us is virtuous. Allowing folks to not only have their own ideas but to pursue them is conservative. Tolerance is more than a COEXIST bumper sticker, it’s a way of life.

We are in a superior position, one in which we can gracefully show tolerance by allowing people to determine their own way, even if it’s separate than our own. The construct of indivisibility is not the supreme virtue that Trumps all others (excuse the pun).

Tolerance is a two-way street

At least that’s what we’ve been crying about for eight years. Don’t you think it’s time we exemplified that concept? Can we give the truth without crushing those who disagree? What about having compassion for those who fear our power? Can we allow our experience at the mercy of the intolerant inform our governance of them now? If we are unconvincing, are we willing to allow people to go their own way?

The tolerance shoe is on the other foot now. The question is, how will we wear it?





I was born in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, born again at a very young age, married a beautiful and likeminded woman, moved to Tennessee, and raised two children in the Southern traditions of loving God and neighbor, exercising manners, and being stewards of the land and its bounty. After becoming involved in youth ministry in our local church, the need of teaching people "what they believe and why they believe it" became painfully apparent, especially in my immediate context (rural Southern churches). We began an apologetics/theology ministry there but have since moved on. After serving in church leadership and being called to faithfulness and duty to protect our congregation from a rogue pastor under church discipline of his previous church, my experiences in this biblical process shape much of what I believe about how churches in the South have become weak and why nominal Christianity is prevalent. I love the Church and Southern culture so you can expect to read about apologetics and theology as well as church and culture here, written southern style, by the grace of God. Deo Vindice

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