In Part IV of our series on Debunking Leftist Myths About Jesus, we tackle the dishonest notion that Jesus was the epitome of modern-day “tolerance.” The proponents of this myth willfully ignore the full scope of Christ’s teachings to cherry-pick instances that serve their narrative. They latch onto the notion that Jesus “ate with sinners” or “sat with tax collectors” as if sharing a meal was equivalent to endorsing every lifestyle under the sun. Unfortunately, this malignant and pervasive myth doesn’t just rear its head in secular or progressive dialogues—it’s wormed its way into the very pews and pulpits of churches across the spectrum.
From far-left mainline denominations that ordain openly homosexual clergy while thumbing their noses at Biblical authority, to even more traditional Evangelical churches that avoid “controversial” topics to keep the tithes rolling in, this warped version of “tolerant Jesus” is being preached everywhere. It’s a calculated distortion of Scripture, intended to justify a range of ungodly lifestyles—whether it be sexual promiscuity, substance abuse, or flagrant deceit—and present them as acceptable in the eyes of Jesus Christ.
In an era where individual autonomy is treated as the highest good, this distorted perspective on Jesus is a particularly convenient tool. It’s used to rebuff any criticism or moral guidance, painting it as judgmental or, in the words of Southeastern Baptist Theological Semimary professor, Karen Swallow Prior, “un-Christlike.” The damaging ripple effects can be seen clearly as more and more churches skirt around issues of sin, treating them like mere lifestyle choices to be “accepted” rather than grave matters warranting repentance. And what of those churches that choose to stand firm on biblical principles? They are frequently lambasted as “intolerant” or “outdated,” many of their congregations dwindling as pew sitters flock to places where their ears are tickled but their souls are left starving.
Yet, Jesus never shied away from speaking the truth, even when it was unpopular, even when it cost him followers. He rebuked, He corrected, and He did so out of love. It is this true and biblical depiction of Christ that we must defend—one that isn’t subject to the ideological fads of the day but stands as the eternal source of grace and truth.
Contrary to this distortion, Jesus did not share meals with sinners to endorse their sinful lifestyles but rather to call them to repentance. He dined with tax collectors and prostitutes to demonstrate God’s grace, not to affirm their actions. “For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Matthew 9:13). In the ancient Middle Eastern culture, sharing a meal was not a stamp of approval for every action or belief of those at the table. In the biblical context of Jesus, it was an open door to a relationship and an invitation to reconsider one’s life in the light of God’s truth.
But let’s not stop there—the idea of Jesus as perpetually “tolerant” crumbles under even the most cursory reading of the New Testament. Consider how He cleared the temple of money changers with a whip, accusing them of making His Father’s house a den of thieves (John 2:15). Or consider His severe rebukes to the Pharisees, calling them white-washed tombs and hypocrites (Matthew 23). Do these actions sound like the one-dimensional portrait of “tolerance” painted by the modern left?
Let us also scrutinize the deeply flawed claims that Jesus would have endorsed the hypersexualized culture of today, the ceaseless quest for self-fulfillment at the expense of others, or the radical movements that seek to redefine fundamental truths about human nature and morality. The same Jesus who declared, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6), is hardly the figurehead of a movement that promotes all paths as equally valid or all lifestyles as morally equivalent.
Far from advocating a form of universal tolerance, Jesus proclaimed divisive, confrontational truths. He himself said, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). He warned that the world would hate His followers because it hated Him first (John 15:18). Jesus’ message was so controversial that it led to His crucifixion. His truth calls for repentance and complete trust in Him for salvation, not blind acceptance of sin under the guise of “tolerance.”
The portrayal of Jesus as an all-tolerant savior is not only historically and theologically inaccurate—it is a reckless corruption of the Gospel message. It replaces the call to repentance with a call to unrestrained living, it swaps eternal truths for temporal desires, and it elevates human opinion over divine revelation. Such a counterfeit version of Jesus serves not to save souls, but to deaden consciences, lulling people into a false sense of security that has eternally perilous consequences.