Tolerate, Then Embrace

By Larry Ray Hafley

Concerning our moral and spiritual culture, a commentator said, “What this generation tolerates, the next generation will embrace.” Both sacred and secular history have proven the truth of this assessment time and time again.

Everything from dancing to drinking, from abortion to mercy killing, has gone from toleration to acceptance. In the home and in the church, everything from immodesty to immorality has been first allowed and then endorsed. Adulterous marriages, gambling, and other similar sins, have gone from being permitted to being sponsored. Re- member when wearing shorts and attending dances were condemned? Now, shorts are worn to services and dances are held in church buildings! Truly, what “this generation tolerates, the next generation will embrace.”

One generation tolerated sprinkling for baptism if a person were seriously ill. The next generation accepted sprinkling for baptism. One generation approved a “chief” elder. The next generation appointed them. One generation introduced instruments of music as an “aid” to singing. The next generation demanded them. One generation accepted the “fellowship hall” (which, at first, was just a few tables in the basement for social meals). The next generation built gymnasiums (“Family Life Centers”). One generation apologized for “hard liners” who opposed denominational religion. The next generation saw their sons and daughters joining those denominations. One generation spoke of the need to reach out in a “non-judgmental” way to our Catholic and Protestant friends. The next generation welcomed Presbyterians into “our fellowship” with a handshake. One generation spoke of congregational singing as “one of our traditions.” The next generation defended choruses and choirs. One generation applauded preachers who closed their sermons without an appeal for sinners to be baptized for the remission of sins. The next generation denied the gospel plan of salvation in general and baptism in particular.

What does this say to us? What is our responsibility? “You shall observe to do therefore as the Lord . . . hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left” (Deut. 5:32). “Hold fast the form of sound words” (2 Tim. 1:13). “Continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them” (2 Tim. 3:14). “Mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Rom. 16:17).

The next time we are tempted to deviate from the word of God, let us remember that what we tolerate, our children will embrace!