I've often wondered why tolerance is considered such a high principle these days.  Granted, I have many qualities that cause those around me to exercise forbearance; nonetheless, I hope for more in even a casual relationship than mere tolerance.  I'd rate our various neighborly relationships, for example, as great, good, casual, and tolerant, with the last being better than "nasty," but nothing to brag about.

Perhaps the preaching of tolerance comes because we have failed so badly at love.  Tolerance—at best—says, "I disagree with you, but it doesn't matter."  Love says, "I disagree with you, and it does matter, but I love you, and I choose to believe the best of you.  I will pray for you, encourage you, and seek out ways to work with you that do not violate my conscience.  I will be alert to any lesson God wants to teach me through you."

Lowering the bar is not the solution.  Redefining a C as an A rarely inspires higher performance.  Besides, we're not doing so well at tolerance, either.  With a hat tip to VP via Facebook, here's a lighter moment dedicated to all who have been slammed by the unloving who preach love, or by the intolerant who preach tolerance.


Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 7:04 am | Edit
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I'm sure you have seen this quote, but I post it here, as it is quite fitting:

"The Church is intolerant in principle because she believes; she is tolerant in practice because she loves. The enemies of the Church are tolerant in principle because they do not believe; they are intolerant in practice because they do not love."
- Attributed to Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange

Posted by Monica on Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Thank you; I had not heard it before, and it is indeed fitting.

Posted by SursumCorda on Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 2:27 pm

That's a great quote. It's easy to want tolerance when all is well, but when the pain comes, tolerance is hard indeed. Practicing it is often more like an act of sacrificial love than an "I'm cool, you're cool" because the moment I get the chance to chose between tolerance or intolerance is by definition the moment I am "not cool" with what you're doing. And putting it that way makes it clear that tolerance is an incomplete code of values!

Posted by Janet on Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 1:47 am

I think tolerance is seen as a modern-day virtue because all other virtues are so much harder to embrace! Also, in the modern view of man, we see humans as the sum of their actions- i.e. a person is a "good" or "worthwhile" person if they contribute to society and don't cause us problems, and keep their bad music turned to an acceptable volume level. In the Christian view, all people are inherently valued simply for the presence of their God-given soul. It is easy for Christians to be accused of intolerance, because we are quick to draw firm lines between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Modernists see this as a judgement on the value of the person in question. In fact, Christians should never question the inherent value of a person- a person's value is intrinsic to his humanity. But because the modern view is that a person is the sum of his actions, to criticize those actions, even abstractly, is a major modern taboo: intolerance.

But while it is a Christian's job to always be intolerant of certain behaviors, we cannot be "intolerant" (hateful) to individual persons who have slipped into sin. I think this is the meaning of the quote. We must LOVE, therefore, extend mercy and aid to those whose behavior is intolerable.

As Linda said in the post, there is much more love in saying, "we disagree, and it is very important" than in saying "we disagree, and who cares?". But again, this is an old view of love. The new view of love is almost synonymous with tolerance. Modern love is to make every action acceptable, so that we need never come into conflict.

We can see what this type of love does in a parenting relationship- total chaos. Now we can watch it on an even larger scale.

Posted by Monica on Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 2:54 am

That's an interesting thought: Modern man can't rid himself of the notion that every person is valuable, yet has emancipated himself from the grounds for that conviction. His utilitarian substitute for intrinsic value therefore becomes unassailable, but defensible only by dogma. And then he turns around and calls those dogmatic who speak of souls and the sanctity of life!

Posted by Stephan on Friday, May 03, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Ran across your blog looking for something else. . . grateful for your perspective. This particular topic reminds me of a quote attributed to the poet Ann Kimmel: "I used to be intolerant of people but now I am only intolerant of people who are intolerant of people.
Enjoyed my time here!

Posted by Mary on Thursday, August 01, 2019 at 3:43 pm

Thank you, Mary. And congratulations on being part of the 0.001%—nearly all of the comments that come to older posts are rightly marked as spam, and most of the ones that make it through that filter and simply require moderation (as yours did) are also spam. It's good to get a real comment on a post from the past!

Posted by SursumCorda on Thursday, August 01, 2019 at 4:00 pm
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