Tolerance and Treatment from the Intolerant

Tolerance isn’t about not having beliefs. It’s about how your beliefs lead you to treat people who disagree with you. — Keller


tolerance (Photo credit: elvissa)

Tim Keller’s words should be read and applied to each and every one of us regardless of our faith, creed or lack thereof. Tolerance is not about only allowing those who agree with you to hold public opinion (which seems to be the standard definition of tolerance in our society today). As a well-informed individual, I should have the right to have certain convictions, based on my faith, and you should be allowed to have convictions based upon your faith or creed and we should be able to talk about issues in both public and private settings in a manner of civility and respect. For example, I believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven (John 14:6; Acts 4:12); Also, I believe same-sex marriage is wrong (therein having reasons as to why the definition of marriage should not be changed) because homosexuality is a sin (Romans 1:24-28; 1 Cor. 6:9; 1 Tim. 1:10; Jude 7). Others, though they disagree, should respect that and allow me the right to lawfully express those views, as I respect those whom have different views on those same subjects and believe they to be allowed the right to lawfully express their beliefs. The problem with tolerance is when it is put into practice because, most of the time, it actually isn’t put into practice; or fully anyway. Tolerance quickly becomes intolerance when another’s beliefs conflict with your own. How so? If we are being honest, its because we think we are right; our opinion is the most correct view on a particular subject and others’ views (which may differ) are insufficient. It is out of this mindset that we treat people: If we agree or agree more so with you (your view) then you are treated more favorably than if you believed otherwise. Our (yours, mine, and the human race as a whole) pride, self-centeredness, and know-it-all attitudes greatly hinder civil discourse on a wide variety of issues like abortion, homosexuality, healthcare, immigration, taxes, economy & work, education, etc. Tolerance is treating those who have differing opinions than your own with respect, love and gentleness (thinking of how Peter tells us to communicate our convictions in 1 Pet. 3:15); not calling those who disagree bigots, idiots, or narrow-minded because that, in turn, makes you narrow-minded. It isn’t tolerance when you want to suppress those whom have dissenting opinions or convictions; its hypocrisy, and it is intolerant.


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