To think how tolerant I am;
Then wonder which is really mine:
Tolerance or a rubber spine?
Ogden Nash, 'Yes and No', 1938
There's a magazine that gets delivered to the church, monthly, maybe (or possibly quarterly). I flick through it. It's not usually engrossing but there's an article in the current edition about intolerance. It quotes from two books by AC Grayling. In Against All Gods, he writes, "It is time to demand of believers that they take their personal choices and preferences in these non-rational and too often dangerous matters into the private sphere, like their sexual proclivities."
But in The Meaning of Things, he argues, "An intolerant person ... wishes others to live as he thinks they ought and ... seeks to impose his practices and beliefs upon them."
I am as intolerant of intolerance as the next person. Someone who tries to dictate to me how I should live or what I should or should not do will not retain my attention nor deserve my love.
But I don't believe that is what Christianity is; it's certainly not what God is about. His 'rules' are for our good; his compassion is abundant; his forgiveness is quick.
When he says 'don't' - kill, covet, commit adultery etc - it's because people will end up getting up hurt. And above that, he says, 'Love.'
Grayling also writes, "It is time to demand ... a right to be free of proselytisation and the efforts of self-selected minority groups to impose their own choice of morality and practice on those who do not share their outlook."
I hope I don't proselytise (I just had to look that up in the dictionary and now I'm fairly sure I don't!) or try to impose my beliefs on anyone. As I've said before, we each have a choice; I can only write as it is for me.
There's a huge difference between those whose lives gently demonstrate God's love (Sean from Zac's springs to mind) and those who claim to be mouthpieces for God (fill in the name here).
To think on: the article said, "The mere fact that people distinguish between right and wrong is enough to convict them of intolerance." (Where I have written people, the article said Christians, but I think it applies to anyone.)
And now I have written far too many serious or gloomy posts of late; it's time to lighten up. I'll be back when I've planned my cocktail party ...