Love and Tolerance

We are bombarded almost everyday with the words love and tolerance. These words have been used by Christians and supporters of gay marriage alike to explain their points of view. But what is the difference between love and tolerance? (without getting too philosophical) Is there any difference?

I believe that there is.

Philosophy is said to be the art of making distinctions. Love according to St. Thomas Aquinas was wanting the good of the other.

Let's use a practical example...

Say it's past your child's bed time but your child still wants to play with their i pad. You give them five more minutes but those five more minutes now turn into a half hour.  In this case the good parent will not allow the child to play on their i pad because getting a good night's rest before school is more important than allowing the child to play on their i pad.  The parent in this example wanted the good of the child. In the mind of the child the parent is not being tolerant of their wishes or desires. The distinction here is that just because the parent said no to the child doesn't mean that the parent doesn't love the child.

Let's take the issue of gay marriage...

A Christian is called to love everyone, saint and sinner alike.  Unfortunately in our media anyone who opposes gay marriage is labeled a bigot and a racist.  The problem with this is that these same people who are placing these labels on Christians are themselves being intolerant.  Tolerance is a two way street.  Tolerance only grows when there is mutual respect on both sides.  That's the exact bond which has made our country great since we tolerate many differing religions, races, and political views.  On the dollar bill it is even written, "pluribus unum" which means "out of many one."  So as a Christian I can still love a gay person while disagreeing with them on the issue of same sex marriage.  I am still being tolerant of them as human beings even if I don't agree with them.  This same distinction should be made by marriage equality advocates who disagree with Christians. I can tolerate a behavior but it doesn't mean that I need to agree with that behavior in order to be loving.

Regrettably in our sound bite culture the lines between love and tolerance have been blurred.
Disagreement has become synonymous with intolerance and intolerance with hate.  But nothing could be further from the truth. To love is to want the ulitimate good of the other even if one disagrees with their choices.


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