Friday, September 06, 2013

Alan Shlemon on Tolerance

"Tolerance...has never meant endorsement or acceptance, but just the opposite. The dictionary defines it this way:  'To recognize and respect others' beliefs and practices without sharing them, to bear or put up with someone or something not necessarily liked.' Notice, you must disagree with someone before  true tolerance is possible...Further, tolerance can be applied to behavior, ideas, and people. No culture tolerates all behaviors. Murder, theft, and child abuse (to name a few) are a threat to the common good, so we make laws restricting them. We don't tolerate all ideas, either. Though people are free to express their views, not every view has equal merit. We reject some ideas (geocentrism, bigotry, slavery, etc.) as false or immoral. When it comes to people, though, we show tolerance-that is, we treat them with equal dignity. Even when we vehemently disagree with them, we still respect them as individuals. A problem occurs, though, when these three categories of tolerance (behavior, ideas, and people) are conflated. When a Christian rejects another person's behavior or ideas, he is immediately accused of being intolerant of the person. This is confused. Opposition to the idea of Islam is not the same as intolerance to Muslm people. Opposition to homosexual behavior is not the same as intolerance to homosexual people. It's possible to oppose their ideas and behavior while remaining tolerant of them."1

Stand firm in Christ,


1. Shlemon, Alan. The Ambassador's Guide to Understanding Homosexuality. pages 4-6.


John B. Moore said...

Good point about disagreement being a precondition for tolerance. Often it's hard to imagine respecting a belief without sharing it, so a few more examples might help.

My neighbor's dog barks, which bothers me, but I don't do anything about it. I don't try to take his dog away. I don't even say anything to him about it. Sometimes respect simply means doing nothing. Actually I like my neighbor in every other way, but it's just his dog I don't like.

Now suppose it's not my neighbor's dog but his homosexuality. Respect would mean I don't try to "take away" his homosexuality, or complain to him about it. Respect would mean not punishing him or taking away his rights. Respect might simply mean doing nothing.

Anonymous said...

Good summary of what tolerance truly is. As we quickly see from the definition and example, it isn't the Christian counter-perspective on societal norms that is plagued by intolerance. The intolerance is typically coming from those who bang the drum of "tolerance" in the first place. Funny how that works.

Anon 2 said...

"The intolerance is typically coming from those who bang the drum of "tolerance" in the first place"

Can you give examples of intolerance from the 'pro-gay' camp? I don't think it's clear what kind of behaviour you're talking about.