People like me are often accused of being obsessed with love and tolerance. As if that’s a bad thing. In fact, one comment I failed to make in my last article is that Bert Farias, author of the article on homosexuality that I critiqued, seems to have a problem with love and tolerance. He claims to be speaking the ‘truth’ in an effort to help, and then goes on to say that homosexual people have less sense than pigs. Obviously he isn’t looking to go as far as loving gay people.
The comment that jumped out at me most clearly was this: We’ve got this whole thing muddled up because people don’t speak plainly and clearly anymore. They beat around the bush and are obsessed with political correctness and being loving and tolerant.
Let’s ignore political correctness for now because it has nothing to do with being loving and tolerant.
Perhaps the key word here is ‘obsessed’. It means to be preoccupied with or constantly worrying about something, often to a troubling extent.
But why shouldn’t these things trouble us? If the extent to which I am preoccupied with love is troubling, it’s because things are so bad that I need to be that preoccupied with it. Why shouldn’t we be preoccupied with love? I’m not sure, but Ted Dekker wrote an awesome novel about obsession called…Obsessed. The ultimate conclusion he makes is that love is the one thing we should be obsessed with.
I don’t know what Mr. Farias was thinking of when he wrote ‘obsessed’, because the word can take various nuances of meaning. It’s a bit subjective whether obsession for a certain thing is good or bad, or how much obsession is too much.
What about tolerance? It’s interesting that tolerance is the buzzword of the people who push for acceptance of humans who differ from the norm, while many conservatives see it as a bad thing. It’s interesting because tolerate means to allow the existence of something (whether you like it or not) without interference. Basically, to be tolerant all you have to do is not interfere with the existence or practice of something. It does not mean you approve of the thing. In fact, it often means to endure something unpleasant with patience.
I for one would like to see more tolerance from people like Mr. Farias, but of course there are people who lack it on all sides.
Maybe playing with semantics is the wrong track. Here’s the big problem: he claims that the homosexuality issue is muddled—that it isn’t condemned as evil by all people—because of obsession with love and tolerance. I suppose in a way that could be true…I mean if we didn’t love or tolerate people, and thought they were evil, we’d probably end up killing them off—because that’s the most basic way of interfering with the existence of something.
But it could also be muddled because of some people’s obsession with controlling what others believe. If both sides could talk it out, and understand that their opposition simply believes differently, then everything would be clear. There would be no need for “plain and clear” condemning rants about how evil those other people are. We could settle down, live our own lives, and focus on more important things, like bacon and apple pie and love.
Perhaps my obsession with love and tolerance is muddling things…by perplexing the people who only understand conflict. I would rather love you than convince you that you’re wrong, so I must have some hidden agenda up my sleeve, a razor-edged trump card that will cut you to pieces as soon as I have power.
Honestly, there’s no agenda here. It’s easy to stereotype a blob of people and assign them a unified goal in your mind. It’s a whole lot harder to actually get that many people to work together. Each person has their own goal, and yes, some of them have nasty things in mind. But most people just want to live in peace, and you’re making it hard for us.
Realize this: love and tolerance do not mean you agree or approve.
Love means you are patient and kind, not proud or easily angered. It means you are not selfish or hateful. It means you keep no record of wrongs. It means you protect and trust, and hope for good things.
Love does not mean you insult the people you disagree with, or despise them or their beliefs or lifestyle.
Tolerance means you don’t interfere in the existence of someone who you disapprove of, first of all by not trying to kill them (or wishing them dead), second by not trying to force them to change.
People don’t change when you force them. We’re like cornstarch dough. Touch gently, and you’ll reach deeper. Strike hard and we become rigid.
The world could use more people who are obsessed with love and tolerance. Unfortunately too many seem to be obsessed with themselves and their precious beliefs and traditions.