Thursday, October 17, 2013

Liberal Tolerance

Not too surprisingly (at least to people who know me well), I've managed to get embroiled in a Twitter conversation with a non-Christian who takes enormous offence at my unwillingness to condone same sex marriage. At this point, he and I apparently disagree on the nature of tolerance.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary says:

tol·er·ance
noun \ˈtä-lə-rən(t)s, ˈtäl-rən(t)s\
: willingness to accept feelings, habits, or beliefs that are different from your own
: the ability to accept, experience, or survive something harmful or unpleasant
medical : your body's ability to become adjusted to something (such as a drug) so that its effects are experienced less strongly

This definition implies that tolerance means bearing with, or accepting, things one dislikes. I first learned the word as a small child, when my physical and occupational therapists exhorted me to tolerate my leg braces, hand splints and exercises meant to decrease the severity of my Cerebral Palsy. I understood, even as a five-year-old, that they didn't expect me to like my braces, splints and exercises (indeed, I hated them with a passion), but they certainly expected me to accept them.

Lately, theological and political liberals seem to equate tolerance with approval. My conversation partner on Twitter, for instance, views my opposition to same sex marriage as a denial of his rights. But I accept the fact that same sex marriage is legal in Massachusetts, and will soon be legal in all 50 states. I believe its legalization will ultimately impinge on religious liberties (and perhaps I'll cite examples in future blog posts), but I tolerate the fact that same sex marriage is the law of the land.

My conversation partner, conversely, has forbidden me from basing my arguments against same sex marriage on my Christian beliefs. That being the case, he demonstrates intolerance toward Christianity. I don't hold illusions that my reasons for opposing same sex marriage could persuade him to adopt my point of view. But since he demanded to know why I take the position I do, I wish he'd tolerate my replies.

1 comment:

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post! I'd love feedback, as long as you attach a name. Disagreement is fine, as long as it is presented respectfully. Please keep comments confined to a maximum of four short paragraphs. Sorry for making to do the Word Verification, but I've been getting too much spam.

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