Tolerance: A Loophole in ‘Love Thy Neighbor’

Tolerate: to allow the existence, presence, practice, or act of without prohibition or hindrance; to put up with.

You know how some people are triggered by the word ‘moist’? I feel that way about the world ‘tolerate’. The word makes me cringe, especially used in context concerning human beings. I think this quote by Chely Wright sums up my feelings pretty well:

“I hear the word “tolerance” — that some people are trying to teach people to be tolerant of gays. I’m not satisfied with that word. I am gay, and I am not seeking to be “tolerated.” One tolerates a toothache, rush-hour traffic, an annoying neighbor with a cluttered yard. I am not a negative to be tolerated.”

In today’s political climate, the word ‘tolerate’ is sewn in almost every conversation as a way to patch things up or keep the peace. There’s something to be said for the co-existence of differing opinions, but I refuse to idlily sit by when an opinion is dehumanizing and a threat to my very being. You see, there’s a difference between the people who are outright bigots and “the toleraters”. Vocal bigots hate everyone who isn’t like them and they make their voices heard. You can identify them easily. “The toleraters” are sneaky. They’re usually quiet at first and then when they finally get backed into a corner where they need to make their beliefs known, they get up on their high horse and shout things like, “hate the sin, love the sinner” or “God is very clear that homosexuality is wrong” with a few bible verses tossed in there for good measure. It’s like they’re using God as a scapegoat for their hatred. They quote things that God said (in a book that was recorded by man thousands of years ago and then translated and interpreted a hundred times over) and twist them to fit their own agenda. “The toleraters” use bible verses and teachings as a loophole to one of God’s most important instructions: love thy neighbor. Notice he didn’t say tolerate thy neighbor…he said love thy neighbor with no asterisk attached. God also said not to judge others a few times, but I’m not a bible expert so I digress. My point is: if your religion requires you to tolerate another human being simply for who they are, you need a new religion. However, I know many Christians who are accepting allies to the LGBTQ+ community. They recognize God made queer folk in His own image and that they’re perfect just the way they are. Hopefully as the time passes and society grows as a whole, we’ll see more acceptance and less tolerance amongst church-goers. Because it’s sad when the people who are supposed to be the most compassionate and loving turn out to be the biggest bigots of all.

I am not a negative to be tolerated.


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