Recently in the presidential campaign both candidates have accused the other of being a bigot. This is one of the worst slurs that can be cast at a person in our society. Christians have been accused of being bigots for a long time. What is a bigot? Merriam-Webster.com defines a bigot as “a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions or prejudices; especially: one who regards or treats members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.” What we see, then, is that bigotry, when applied to the Christian context, involves two things: the first is how one regards different beliefs and the second is how one treats people who hold those beliefs.
The first thing we need to keep in mind when it comes to the teachings of the Christian faith is that they are not human ideas or opinions. They come from God No prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20-21)
God tells us that His Word is the truth. Your word is truth. (John 17:17). We are to believe what God tells us in His word and not deviate from it. Be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. (Joshua 1:7).
In regard to the matter of salvation, the Bible reveals that we are all sinners who deserve God’s wrath and punishment. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) For the wages of sin is death… (Romans 6:23). The only way a person is saved is through the life, death, and resurrection of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Scripture says, Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name un-der heaven given to men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12).
The fact that God declares His word to be the truth means that all other belief systems are false. They are human opinion and do not lead to God. Ultimately, they lead people to eternal death. Holding fast to the truths of God’s word is not bigotry. We must do so if we are to have any confidence in our relationship with God and have the certain hope of eternal life.
How are we to treat people that do not believe the way we do? The Bible tells us that we are to “love our neighbor as ourselves” (Matthew 22:39). The parable of the Good Samaritan shows us that our neighbor is everyone, not just those who live next to us. To love our neighbor means that we seek what is best for them. The best thing we can do for our neighbor is share the Gospel with them, so they believe in Christ and are saved.
The Bible forbids us to hate others. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. (1 John 2:9). This means we are not to speak evil of others or mistreat them in any way. Sadly, because of our sinful nature we find ourselves falling short of the glory of God. Individual Christians may be guilty of bigotry. When such sin is identified the Christian should immediately repent of it, and seek forgiveness from God and the one he has offended.
The Christian church does not teach or endorse bigotry of any kind. May the Spirit guide us to love others according to God’s will, while holding fast to the truths of His Word.
Rev. Matthew Luttman