Tolerance is an ever increasing issue, especially in the United States. A year and a half ago, Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave a talk entitled Truth and Tolerance. For those who don’t know, Elder Oaks, he was a member of the Utah Supreme Court, and a professor at the University of Chicago Law School. For a more complete biography, click here. Please take into consideration the teachings of Elder Oaks on the subject. For the complete transcript of this address, click here.
“Tolerance is a virtue, but like all virtues, when exaggerated, it transforms itself into a vice. We need to be careful of the “tolerance trap” so that we are not swallowed up in it. The permissiveness afforded but the weakening of the laws of the land to tolerate legalized acts of immorality does not reduce the serious spiritual consequence that is the result of the violation of God’s law of chastity.”
This was a quote given by President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles last month in the Church’s annual General Conference. The topic of tolerance is one I feel needs a little more attention, and understanding.
What is tolerance?
By definition, tolerance is the ability or willingness to tolerate (allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of) something, in particular the existence of opinion or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.
It’s important to understand, and celebrate the fact that each of us are different. We come from different backgrounds, beliefs, traditions, etc., which makes for a great deal of diversity throughout the world. Each of us also has, and is completely entitled to, their own opinions.
There has been a lot of change in moral character over the past few years. As mentioned in a previous post, the standard of marriage is diminishing heavily as society continues to re-define it. We must learn and understand the difference of tolerance and support as we strive to contribute to upholding the integrity of our society, and also our personal integrity.
How can we tolerate those who have different beliefs than we do?
As previously mentioned, tolerance is a virtue. This is an attribute some posses naturally, but some of us need a little work. To put it simply, we must love those who don’t agree with us. As in any case, we can follow the Savior’s example. For instance, his reaction to the woman taken in adultery.
“Neither do I condemn thee. Go, and sin no more.” -John 8:11
Jesus began with words of tolerance by withholding the woman’s condemnation. However, he made sure to speak the truth of the matter by commanding her to sin no more. He was both kind and firm.
Is it possible to tolerate without supporting?
Yes! This is the main point I wish to make. It seems that too many people claim to tolerate a certain belief, when they in fact support it enough to take a personal stand on the issue. This is where the line is drawn. Once you choose to support a cause, your tolerance is gone. Therefore, we must strive to tolerate those who live their lives according to choices they’ve made contrary to the absolute truth of God’s commandments.
As members of the Church we believe there is a difference between truth and tolerance. God has established commandments that are absolute truth, unchangeable. We believe that all persons on the earth are literal children of a literal Father in Heaven, and blessed with the gift of free agency, the right to choose freely. Each is loved. Even though there are many who live their lives contrary to the commandments of God, we as members of the Church love them. But we do no support their actions. Truth is absolute, and will never change.