Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tolerance or Love? {I'm on a Soapbox Again}

I have been kinda hung up on the word tolerance lately.  In fact, it is pretty much rubbing me the wrong way.  Now before you send me hate messages, let me explain what has been on my mind.  

I have had a few run-ins with tolerance over the years.

Growing up, I was pretty set on right and wrong.  Right was right, and if you were wrong, I didn't have much tolerance for you.  Period.  My Mother was always harping on me to "be more tolerant" of others.  People aren't perfect, people are different,  people come from varying backgrounds, etc.

Somewhere in my late high school and college experience, they began the big push to start "teaching tolerance".  I thought it was a great idea.  Made total sense.  I totally agreed that we should be accepting of others and their differences, especially in regard to their cultures and backgrounds.

So I learned to tolerate others.  Very well. 

A few Sunday's ago, one of our pastors was speaking about loving others.  In his message, he said one little sentence that rocked my world....
"Do you love people, or do you just tolerate them?"

Suddenly it occurred to me that over the years, I have done exactly as I have been instructed.  I have tolerated lots of people, but I have not loved them.  In fact, I have barely even liked them.

This got me to thinking how very sad it is that we have backed ourselves into a corner in the public school system, and in our society today.  We teach a lot about tolerance, but we teach nothing about loving others.  We mention respect, but we don't teach love.  We discuss appreciation, but not love.  

What a cold place this world will be (or has it become?) with people walking around striving to tolerate each other, but not loving one another.

And has teaching tolerance even worked?  Simply turn the news on and you will have a quick answer to that.  

In just a few hours after hearing the message that Sunday, I was thinking about a few people that I seriously merely tolerate.  I wondered, do I love them?  Could I love them?  Then something surprising happened.  I realized Jesus loves them. All of a sudden, that made it easy.  I can truly can easily love them, when I am in the mindset of Jesus.  Seriously.  I can dislike their actions, and beliefs, and whatever, but in the mind of Christ, I can love them, no problem.

So I am thinking hard about how I am raising my boys. 

Frankly, some things just should not be tolerated.  They just shouldn't.  It almost even seems that by insisting that everyone tolerate everything, it has brought out more anger than love.  Could that be because we are asking people to tolerate things that they feel are intolerable?  Is it just me, or does it seem that tolerating everything has become too close to saying, "Anything goes! Like it or not!"  

Not really the message I want to send to my young impressionable children.

I want to teach my boys that we must love one another {and by the way, isn't that a commandment?} but that we don't have to tolerate everything.  

Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” ~Mark 12:29-31

What about teaching them that we love all people like Jesus loves us.  People may be different, they may be mean, they may be of a different culture, whatever - but we love them as Jesus loves them.  We don't have to like or tolerate everything others do or believe, but because we love them,  our actions and responses will be to do things like pray for them and show love to them, as Christ would.

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. ~John 13:34

But of course, really, how can I teach that?  After all, teaching Jesus is not tolerated in public schools.  And interestingly enough, neither is teaching love.

Three things will last forever--faith, hope, and love--and the greatest of these is love.
~1 Corinthians 13:13


  1. I could not agree more. Have you ever checked out I hope that is right. I also have The 5Love Languages of Children if you would like it. I can never discipline Parker like Savannah. She could care less what you do. Lol.

  2. amen girlie. i love this. i like your soapbox. : )

  3. Yes yes yes! "Tolerance" is taught in schools as some sort of virtue, when it's not. If all you're doing is tolerating something, you probably can't stand it. No weight on loving and respecting others, on taking care of each other. All the kids have to do is tolerate each other and that's enough. And even worse, you're totally right that even behaviors that should be unacceptable are ALSO to be tolerated! I was bullied in elementary school (my parents then moved me to a private school where the culture was much different and much better), and the stance of the school staff was that boys were being boys and they would do nothing about it. It was totally okay with them that I was getting kicked and called slurs every day.

    Anyway, clearly you really got me riled up here :). You are so right on. Tolerance is a disgustingly low goal in most cases, and in other cases there are behaviors that should simply be unacceptable. In those cases, zero tolerance should be taught.

  4. Ugh! I'm always making the comment that "I hate people". Of course I really don't but there are A LOT of people that I just tolerate. Awhile back I was reading a devotion or a blog about a devotion, I don't remember but it was all about how we're all God's children. Talk about a wake up call. It was like God was telling me "DUH!!! Get with the program." I've been trying to be more "loving" towards these other "children" that are obviously not living to serve God but that I know he still loves. It's really tough!! I also think the world would be a much better place if God was in places like public school but that's a whole different story!

  5. You've made me think. Our kids are in a public system too and there is no talk of love or Jesus either.
    I too like your soapbox. Carry on teaching my friend.

  6. Yes! There have been some flair ups at work regarding being tolerant of other people recently. This particular one is not about tolerating Jesus, but different races and cultures. I'm tired of being preached at to be tolerant and make consessions for others, yet when the roles are reversed, seems others aren't tolerant of me. And I call it what it really is, an excuse to not accept and love each other.

    So yes, scooch over, I need to stand on this soap box with you! ;)


Kerri says:

Thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts! I LOVE reading your comments.

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