Recent events in Australia involving several Rugby players and the gay pride flag have highlighted a disturbing culture of intolerance towards certain groups in our society. Reports suggest that up to seven Manly Sea Eagle players are set to miss their next game after the club announced that the team must sport an LGBTQ Pride flag on their uniforms or else stand down.
The decision to alter the jersey, which was made without first consulting the players, will be upheld for Thursday’s “inclusive” match against the Roosters despite the team members expressing cultural and religious objections to the branding.
Since news broke, the Manly seven have been subject to relentless scorn from the mainstream media. They’ve been maligned as hateful and intolerant bigots, with some figures even calling for their permanent suspension from the game.
ARLC Chairman, Peter V’landys, showed little sympathy for the players, telling 2GB’s Ben Fordham on Tuesday that if they don’t want to be “inclusive” by wearing the gay pride imagery, they won’t be included.
“Everyone knows the position of the game. If you don’t want to be inclusive you can stand down,” he said, without any hint of self-awareness.
Ironically adding, “The game will always be for everyone.”
Of course, that is everyone except everyone who thinks differently. Prior to the “inclusive” uniforms being introduced, the game was seemingly for everyone. Now, seven players are being told this new door of “inclusivity” isn’t wide enough for the convictions of Biblically-aligned Christians.
That’s essentially what this is all about. They may say it’s about accepting people with differences, but there have been no calls to remove gay players from the competition. The Manly seven haven’t expressed any objections to playing alongside people who identify as LGBTQ, and yet the mob rages on. Why?
The fact is, the gay pride flag represents more than just the social inclusion of LGBTQ people. Most people understand this. Just as the symbolism of a cross represents a whole body of Christian theology and doctrine, the pride flag is a symbol of an entire moral framework, an ideological system, and a worldview that effectively rejects the Bible as the final authority on all moral matters.
As such, most professing Christians view the pride flag as a representation of an ideology at odds with the Bible, and therefore, at odds with the Christian. To expect the Christian to then wear the symbolism without protest is akin to compelling him to renounce his faith. If the ideology and moral system behind the flag is true, then the Bible is wrong. And if the Bible is wrong, then the entire system that is built upon it is wrong.
This is not just about accepting people with different opinions. It’s about compelling others to affirm those different opinions under the guise of accepting the people. In many ways, the Manly seven have demonstrated more “inclusivity” and “tolerance” than the pitch-fork-wielding mobs that demand absolute ideological conformity. Inclusiveness implies an acceptance of differences without demanding those differences be forfeit. It is to accept the person despite their differences, which is unlike the ideological tyrants who can only accept the person once those differences are renounced.
There is a word for that sort of thing, though it is abused and battered beyond recognition today. The Oxford Dictionary defines “bigotry” as an “intolerance towards those who hold different opinions from oneself.” In other words, intolerance isn’t a refusal to abandon your own convictions to adopt the opinions of another. It is the refusal to accept the fact that different opinions exist.
Intolerance demands absolute conformity, affirmation, and approval. It demands those with differing opinions, at the very least, play the hypocrite by raising a banner that doesn’t represent how they think or what they believe. Intolerance is an opinion that imposes itself over others, that negates their beliefs, and insists on being recognized as the opinion to which all others must submit.
Sure, intolerance hides behind the language of inclusivity, but it is the first to ostracise anyone who refuses to bow the knee. It demands tolerance from others but is unwilling to tolerate anything short of complete ideological submission. It demands the acceptance of diversity, but cannot accept diversity of thought or opinion.
Is this not exactly what we’re witnessing today? The Manly seven aren’t intolerant bigots because they have their own beliefs and opinions. The intolerant bigots are those with the expectation that the only beliefs and opinions that can exist are their own. They say, wear our symbolism, wave our flag, and recite our creed, or else stand down – because we are inclusive, and no other opinion will be tolerated.