A PERSPECTIVE FROM JOHN MICKELSON
|| The Cost
of Tolerance: Are We Overlooking Something Far More Effective
Tolerance as a social philosophy:
It's not as noble a perspective as we are led
to casually regard it. While it may
be preferable to active bigotry or egregious prejudice, it bears
a passive indifference that ultimately helps no one. Why not, instead,
While attempting, once again, to clean out part
of my garage, I stumbled upon a tract that discussed three types of
love. To my surprise, it was not about the standard trio of agape, phileo
and eros three dramatically different kinds of love but
three that tend to get easily confused in today's culture:
if-only, because-of and inspite-of
Only one will last. It certainly isn't the first, "if-only" love because it is conditional, and true love is unconditional. It states "I would love you if only you would or you were...."
And "because-of" love is vulnerable to erosion due to change. In early romances, it is not uncommon for people to say, "I love you 'because of' (a) the way you make me tingle at the thought of you; (b) the way you make me laugh; (c) the way you look excites me; (d) the way you (almost anything could go here)."
The third, however, successfully incorporates God's quality of being able to hate the sin while yet loving the sinner. "in-spite-of" love acknowledges a shortcoming or two or three but loves the person anyway. It is the type of love that can't be undone by circumstance, time or any other agent: it is unconditional.
Just as something critical is missing in the types of love other than the "in-spite-of" form of love, something also is missing in tolerance, despite its seeming harmless qualities.
Tolerance might seem, at first blush, to be a noble temperance. But examine at its meaning more closely. It is akin to saying,
"He can do that to himself because it doesn't bother me. It's okay
because I don't really care." At its best, tolerance is utterly
passive, like a sin of omission. But while more of American culture
endorses, if not embraces, tolerance as a solution, its impact is far
more debilitating than it is constructive.
So how does this lead me
to a treatise on the advantage of compassion over tolerance?
Because compassion involves an aspect of the "inspite-of"
love which tolerance fundamentally lacks. Compassion allows for God's
righteousness to be acknowledged, e.g., "in spite of your gluttony
or sexual sin or pattern of deceit" without denying His unconditional
commitment to us: "... I nevertheless love you."
Tolerance passively condones all wrong-doing and violation
of principle for fear that it looks judgemental, prejudicial and rejectful
of the person who is "just different."
This gets to the heart of a vital quality of God
which He calls us to embrace despite our fundamental inability to do
apart from Him: to embrace His Love and His Rightehousness by actively
loving the Sinner while nevertheless hating the Sin.
To be able to do so is inescapably beautiful in
its supernatural deliverance and freeing in its ability to bring us
to the realm of grace and to apply it to others much like God
bestows it upon us.
Ne'er Forget: In spite of it all ...
Our nature is to one-up by judging. The solution
is not to be indifferent. And whiile tolerance is better than indifference,
over time that small difference may appear insignificant. The active,
spirit-empowered act of compassion has, by its very God-loving and
-derived nature, the capacity to heal. That is what we should strive
for or, by His power, surrender to.
||DON'T BE SILLY!
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