Thursday, December 20, 2018


Everyone is different. Once we get past the obviousness of this statement we can begin to understand how profound the truth of it actually is. It means my opinion, no matter how strongly I believe in it, no matter how logical it is or how much supporting evidence I may be able to find, is in the end my own. You, being a free moral agent, may agree or disagree but that will not make things any less right or wrong. It simply means we disagree. 

Tolerance, in some circles, has a bad reputation. What passes for tolerance today is mostly the idea of being tolerant (more on this tomorrow). Tolerance frees us from the burden of having to convince-or having to be convinced-one way (mine, for example) of seeing things is the correct way and the other (yours) is not. Tolerance goes beyond mere lip service to an opposing point of view; we are now free to discern whatever truth may be lurking in the shadows of the ‘opposition’. Accepting one another as individuals helps us see the Imago Dei in one another. We can now be truly present to the one another. This is how tolerance moves from the realm of idea into a discipline we can practice.

Biblical tolerance cannot exist in a vacuum. It it must be accompanied by other virtues such as justice, mercy, forgiveness, humility, love. The Hebrew Bible has a word for this-hesed, translated as steadfast love, lovingkindness, kindness, unfailing love, mercifulness, pity and more. Hesed refers to an attribute of God and has nothing to do with the idea of tolerance, which more often than not leads to intolerance toward anyone whom I do not perceive to be as tolerant as I am. Tolerance, accompanied by hesed, is a way for us to mirror God, who puts up with a lot foolishness from His beloved children. 

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