Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thoughts on Tolerance

These are some excellent thoughts about tolerance written and shared by my friend Isaac Livingston.  Enjoy.

In today's world, there is a huge misunderstanding of what both tolerance and intolerance really are. Disagreeing with something or someone is NOT intolerance. People have agency to make decisions for themselves, and the point at which it becomes intolerance is when you attempt to keep people from having their r
ight to a certain belief or opinion.

It is judgmental and narrow-minded to say, "If people disagree with me, or with this or that, then they are prideful, rebellious, discriminatory, bigoted, etc." You can insert pretty much any common stereotype into this example. The point is that if you simply condemn others out of hand for not believing as you, and call them intolerant, then it's actually YOU who is really being intolerant.

As with all other things, Jesus Christ is the perfect example. Let me first be clear that Christ did not tolerate sin. The scriptures are pretty clear on that. This doesn't make Him intolerant. He allowed and still allows people to choose paths that are contrary to what He and His disciples taught. See the difference? We also know from scripture that the Savior was tolerant of people who, in their weakness, accepted sin as part of their lives. Remember the story of the woman taken in adultery? The Savior did not condemn her for her sin, but DID exhort her to go and sin no more. She had violated one of His commandments, yes, but He also made it very clear to the Pharisees, and to all of us, that only He had the right to judge her for her actions: 'He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.'

I now turn to James E. Talmage for a great explanation on the subject of tolerance versus intolerance:

"In the state of divided opinion then existing among the people concerning Jesus, it was fair to say that all who were not opposed to Him were at least tentatively on His side. On other occasions He asserted that those who were not with Him were against Him.

Even John, traditionally known as the Apostle of Love, was intolerant and resentful toward those who followed not his path, and more than once had to be rebuked by his Master. And again, while traveling with their Lord through Samaria, the apostles James and John were incensed at the Samaritans' lack of respect toward the Master, and craved permission to call fire from heaven to consume the unbelievers; but their revengeful desire was promptly rebuked by the Lord, who said: 'Ye know not what manner of Spirit ye are of. For the Son of Man is not come to destroy men's lives but to save them.'

Intolerance is Unscriptural---The teachings of our Lord breathe the Spirit of forbearance and love even to enemies. He tolerated, though He could not approve, the practices of the heathen in their idolatry, the Samaritans with their degenerate customs of worship, the luxury-loving Sadducees, and the law-bound Pharisees. Hatred was not countenanced even toward foes. His instructions were: 'Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.' The Twelve were commanded to salute with their blessing every house at which they applied for hospitality. In the Parable of the Tares, Christ taught the same lesson of forbearance; the hasty servants wanted to pluck out the weeds straightway, but were forbidden lest they root up the wheat also, and were assured that a separation would be effected in the time of harvest.

In spite of the prevailing Spirit of toleration and love pervading the teachings of the Savior and the apostles, attempts have been made to draw from the scriptures justification for intolerance and persecution. Paul leaves us not in doubt as to the character of the Gospel he so forcefully defended, as his later words show: 'But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.' Let it be remembered that vengeance and recompense belong to the Lord."


Ike said...

Once again, I appreciate the mention. It's just something that's been on my mind lately, and I felt that it was finally time to speak up. Thanks again, and I hope that the Brooks family is doing well :)

Cougar Abogado said...

Love the thoughts, guys, thanks.

Another area where I get concerned is when arguing for certain laws becomes labeled as intolerance because it legally prevents people from doing what they want to do. E.g., laws against marijuana (thanks home state of CO . . .), abortion, drugs, etc. and those that maintain the traditional definition of marriage.