Friday, July 17, 2015

The Difference between Tolerance and Endorsement in Politics

I often wonder why so many people advocate for the very behaviors they claim to oppose. This has become quite prevalent with the recent SCOTUS decision on marriage. For the hours that followed the ruling, all I could see were rainbows throughout the Internet. Most disappeared after a couple days, but I continue to be intrigued by the rainbow profile pictures that remain. And then it occurred to me.

In our contemporary society, we have lost not only the ability, but I believe the desire, to disagree with others publicly for fear that we may be “called out” on our own sins. So long as we share the common moral of a group, we don’t mind expressing our beliefs. But once our beliefs are in conflict, for fear of not being liked, we hide our beliefs under the cloak of fairness and tolerance. We “get on board” with political movements with phrases such as, “I don’t personally believe in gay marriage, but who am I to say it’s wrong for others?” There ceases to be a willingness to say, “I think it is wrong. PERIOD!” Unfortunately I believe, once we join the effort to support those with whom we disagree, we cross the line into endorsement, if even outwardly.

And that is where I am intrigued. How can you advocate for a behavior or belief which you do not accept? In case you were wondering......changing your Facebook profile to a rainbow IS a statement that you agree with same-sex marriage. If you don’t, then why publicly advocate? You may very well, as do I, believe that every human being has been granted free will by God to believe and act in any way, but there IS a difference between accepting free will and advocating for certain behaviors.

The issue of tolerance vs. endorsement isn’t limited to sexuality. It still is possible to say, “Same-sex marriage is wrong. You don’t have to agree with me, and you are free to do what you wish, but it is wrong.” It is just as easy to say, “Greed is wrong. You can chase the almighty dollar all you want, but it’s wrong.” Or you can say, “Lashing out against others in anger, and forcing them to do as you desire is wrong. You can be lash out all you want, but its wrong.” You can EVEN say, “I believe in One God, Father Almighty....etc. You may not, but I do.” See? It works with any belief or behavior.

If we are going to honor our faith in Jesus Christ, the time is past that we should stop advocating for sinful behaviors, and we should begin advocating for a life dedicated to living according to God’s desire for us.  In Orthodoxy, that means being dedicated to defeating our passions, not soothing them. It DOESN’T mean one sin is worse than another. It doesn’t mean we are without sin. It simply means that as Orthodox Christians, we tolerate other’s choices to sin, but we cannot endorse them. 

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