Why I’m Both Tolerant and Intolerant

American culture hails tolerance as one of the key marks of maturity in character–for good reason too. Humans (not just white upper class Americans) have tendencies toward bigotry, prejudice and sectarianism. If in the college classroom especially, you’re perceived to be intolerant in any way, your kudos with the professor and class will drop precipitously.

As a professing and practicing Christian, I know the name comes with all sorts of baggage. Unloving extremists in the camp have marred what our founder, savior and God–Jesus–worked so hard to build.

“Christians are sexist, homophobic, money-hungry Republicans who unceasingly preach at others what NOT to do. Worst of all, they are intolerant of other faiths, lifestyles and cultures” is what the masses claim.

After taking a deep look at my tolerance levels, I must admit that, yes, I am intolerant of certain things, but I’m also tolerant. And I think, given a pause of thought, everyone would arrive at the same exact conclusion.

In the spirit of full disclosure, here’s a list of five items I’m tolerant and intolerant of.

I’m intolerant of:

1- Bullies (young or old) using, manipulating or hurting others to build their own crooked self-esteem.

2- People (not just the rich) taking no time to invest (monetarily and practically) in helping the world.

3- Lying to gain political, social or familial power.

4- Behaviors (sins) that absolutely destroy families, especially women and children (domestic abuse, molestation, abandonment, adultery, indifferent dads, unloving husbands). For that matter, sin in general, particularly my own.

5- I HATE dirty gas station bathrooms. Yuck!

I’m tolerant of:

1- Your views/faith/choices. Although I may disagree with everything you say, I’ll listen and try to understand.

2- Your lifestyle. Whatever it is you’re doing, as a Christian I’m called to a vow of Biblical honesty, but your life is yours to maneuver.

3- Your culture. Having grown up in an Italian immigrant home around a primarily Latino community, I’m all for EVERY color, EVERY tongue and EVERY culture being respected.

4- Your intolerance of me as a Christian or of the Bible or of Jesus. I get it. You hate Christianity. I can deal with that.

5- Bad hygiene, B.O., photography, writing, etc.

In closing, the only way I know how to be intolerant and tolerant of things is because God did the same for me. Because God is the most holy being, he could NOT tolerate my sin (those things which I now can’t tolerate either), but he–in the person of Jesus–was willing to tolerate sinners’ company for 33 years on earth, so that by his life, death, burial and resurrection, all might repent of sin and find forgiveness from a gracious God.

(Yes, I really believe that. And I really believe Jesus is the only way. And you also believe your way is the only way, whether that’s Buddhism or Atheism or Islam, even if that way includes many ways.)


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