In this, the 21st Century, we often hear the word tolerance. However, I believe that those who most often use this word do not fully understand it. Tolerance does mean respecting others’ beliefs, customs and traditions. Tolerance means, in a religious aspect, that all should be allowed to express his or her beliefs freely and practice them freely. However, being tolerant of others’ actions does not mean condoning others’ behavior.
My hometown is a very diverse place and I had the opportunity to meet many people of varying faiths and belief systems. I have a particular friend Joel, (whose name has been changed for the purpose of this blog) that is an open and practicing homosexual. I love him dearly and we have developed a very great and deep friendship. I have always been open about my belief that homosexuality is contrary to God’s law and he has always been open about his desire to continue in his sexual orientation.
His actions do not, however, mean that I should avoid him or treat him differently. And just because I do not support homosexuality does not mean that we cannot tolerate each other, or be friends. Nor does my disapproval of his actions mean that I’m being intolerant.
Now, I would like to point out that whether he “chose” to be gay or not is unimportant. To me, all that is important is what God has taught and apart from heterosexuality, God has taught that we must be tolerant. As I said I have a very deep relationship with this friend and our opposing views have never been a hindrance to that relationship. Being tolerant means that I can love him as a person, not as a “gay.” We are all children of a Loving Heavenly Father and he sees us all as His children regardless of what we may ever do.