“Tolerance” in Religion and Reality

Don’t worry, Part 4 of the poverty series is coming, but not here yet. Meanwhile…

In response to this essay by an admittedly non-religious person, a friend posted the following totally legitimate question on another forum:

“What would YOU do if you found out a friend was gay?”

Simple. Assure them that while I disapprove of such behavior on various grounds (including religious), I also accept them as fellow humans, creations of God as are all of us, imperfect as I if in different ways, and wish to remain friends if they will tolerate me in turn. It’s happened before and it ain’t hard.

I’m not the least bit scared of this issue, or any for that matter, and will not hesitate to take it on head-on. So here goes…

You don’t have to agree with the things people do to care about them. I definitely do care about those friends of mine in that situation, knowing none of us are perfect. I’ve also told a couple of my friends who are homosexuals and worried about their safety, that if somebody started trying to assault them in my presence for any reason, I’d forcefully defend them against whomever was doing that. The same applies to those friends I haven’t gotten around to saying that to as well.

Still, there’s more than a minor element of passive-aggressive pomposity and selective omission evident in that writer’s entry, as if he’s got the single right answer about what “love” is. BS. If you look under the hood of that otherwise reasonable essay, you will see two cylinders missing:
1. Sometimes love means *tough love* and
2. Imperfection does not preclude calling out behavior with which we disagree.

Those of us who are parents should know both of those all too well. Apparently that parent doesn’t.

Regarding #1: With friends, that means being honest about my beliefs and why I believe them. [Hiding such things to avoid conflict is a form of cowardice.] Then they need to accept me for who I am–which includes social-conservative Christian thought. Fortunately, a few of my homosexual friends do just that. They may not like my stance on that one particular topic, which BTW is just one issue among thousands in this civilization…but we’re friends anyway because we can look past that disagreement. That’s a way to be civilized and still knowingly disagree. It takes mutual respect and openness, without which lasting friendship is impossible.

“Tolerance” and “respect” go both ways! It also includes the attitudes of many homosexuals, and their supporters, toward Christian social conservatives. “We” repudiate Westboro’s lunacy (my thoughts about that) because “we” know God truly hates no person. “We” are not inevitably nut jobs nor slope-headed, IQ=50 rednecks. Many of us are intelligent, well-read people, and like it or not, “we” are not going away.

“Tolerance” and “respect” MUST go both ways or the whole expression merely is a hypocritical double standard. In my experience, too many people confuse “tolerance” for “approval”, “acceptance” for “agreement”, “disapproval” for “bullying”. Wrong, wrong, and wrong. Those are NOT synonyms. Look in any dictionary or thesaurus.

That brings me to #2: Those of us who disagree with such behavior have the right to do so, and to speak out about it, regardless of our own imperfections. Just because somebody sins one way does not preclude speaking out against sin in another. Think about how ridiculous the writer’s argument is, via this example:

Shall a dude never criticize drunk driving because he looked lustfully at a gorgeous woman at some point in his life, or stole a pack of gum from 7-11 when he was 7 or 11? Of course not. Otherwise, nobody ever would speak out against anything wrong, because we’re all imperfect! The logic of the writer’s misconstruing is ridiculous…not the intent of the “cast stones” scene, and completely off-base.

I will not permit non-religious pundits’ ignorant misinterpretations of the “cast stones” scripture to censor me on matters of sin, so…get used to it. Jesus himself, along with all four authors of the canonical Gospels, and the Apostle Paul in his letters, freely criticized sins. We Christians can and should, as well. Love the sinner, yes, but not the sin…

And disapproval of homosexual behavior is absolutely, positively, NOT “hate”, nor “bullying”. It just isn’t. Period. Those who call others “hateful”, “intolerant” and “bigoted” for disagreeing with their actions, need to look in the mirror and see those very same characteristics in themselves.

Sometimes the truth hurts, doesn’t it? Sometimes tough love is necessary. I may be expressing my brotherly love for you by engaging in the very the act of telling you what you don’t want to hear.

Far too many of those who preach “tolerance” need to practice it first.


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