Tolerating intolerance II

a-friend-of-order-1964(1)I do not tolerate the homophobe. He does not tolerate the gay person. How is our intolerance different?

The thing condemned is different. He condemns a natural expression of a human being which does no harm. I condemn his condemnation. He attacks others who do not harm him. I defend myself. Even if I were defending someone else from his intolerance, I would be condemning something harmful or useless.

the-big-family-1963(1)And yet, if I say, “he externalises evil, he attacks what he cannot bear in himself, he cannot correct his own life so he pretends to correct that of others”- that applies to me, too. Judge not that ye be not judged. Jesus did not lay down a set of arbitrary rules which would be enforced after death: Jesus described reality. He projects! I say, and find myself projecting, judged as I judge. There are better things to think about.

the-blank-signatureAnd, you persecute others. Should I not defend them?

I carry on a discussion with the tedious bore PS Pruett partly because I do not want to give him the last word. Maybe I should withdraw. He says, I was more interested in why Christians like yourself almost always (in my experience) react by condemning people like me rather than attempting to be inclusive and caring about our spiritual state like they do with others. Most of the “inclusive” Christians that I have dialoged with about this are quite theologically liberal and do not believe in hell, but they seem willing to make an exception in my case.

The idea of Hell is useful, not as a threat to non-conformists about suffering after death, but as an image of spiritual reality now.  He wants me to care about his spiritual state, as he claims to about the gay people he “loves”. I care that the truth is found, through dialogue. Jesus could be terribly, terribly rude.

And yet, bothering with all this can hurt me. I get myself all riled up, rather than proceeding with my own concerns. If it is a stage I am going through, of self-acceptance through rejection of homophobia, it is a stage I would like to pass.

12 thoughts on “Tolerating intolerance II

    • Quakers- Indiana Yearly Meeting– split over gay marriage, being unable to talk across the divide. I really enjoy agreeing with someone, it brings us together, I can handle disagreement, and then there are these issues which somehow have to make someone an unperson.

      A quite broken old woman consulted me. I switched on my computer, and the home page (addressed to me, not her, giving updates and points of interest) said something about asylum seekers. She started to wail- “They come over here, and they get everything, and we get nothing-” and I knew I was supposed to challenge such statements, but did not know how to begin, how to communicate with her, how to make her feel valued (which is part of the communication). It is easier when the racist appears powerful, I can get angry with that.


  1. Your conversation has been popping up on my ‘Comments I’ve Made’ page, I did wonder why you were bothering. Direct him to the racist website of similarly bigoted Christians and ask him what his reaction is. He might find the shoe on the other foot (and still learn nothing from it).

    I don’t think it’s normal to tolerate primary intolerance. I think people switch off when they can’t bear it, but it’s not tolerating it, it’s denying or ignoring it.


    • By the end, I was trolling him for giggles. He produces a long comment explaining, I take a bit from it and challenge it, he sets off again. So he writes of unacceptable sexual acts and I say “I didn’t think you could resist bestiality”. At the start, both of us were educating the other- if you actually understood, you would follow my view– which is not the way towards a meeting of minds.

      I found what you had found on objections to interracial marriage revolting, especially the comments from the bloggers you had unearthed. PSP would say it is not a fair comparison, you cannot choose your race but even if you are born gay you can exercise self-control and be celibate; and that their Biblical interpretation is wrong, so different from his. Or, perhaps not!

      I have tried that with slavery. Dr Thornton Stringfellow argued in the characteristic Evangelical way, quite well actually.


      • “if you are born gay you can exercise self-control and be celibate” There’s more in common. If you are born falling in love with someone of another race, you can exercise self-control and be celibate or force yourself to love someone from your race. It’s all about self-denial and self-imposed misery for imagined sins – proscribed by people who haven’t been there (or who are freaked out about being there and what their contemporaries will say).


  2. “Bothering with all this can hurt me” – yes, so let it go. Failing to convince bigots is not a sign that you have failed, or that you are unloved, or that you need to understand more about them. Maybe there is nothing to understand, except that now is a good time to let it go. Doing good is not the same as trying to understand the incomprehensible. And you cannot afford to take it so personally. Because it hurts you….. etc

    Lecture over, darling. xx 🙂


  3. Tolerance is not and can never be passivity or silence. I can tolerate a person’s right to belief the outrageous. while at the same time I stand for 7 hours in the Midtown North Police Station turning his loathsome website in as a hate crime. It is. Yes, of course, I tolerate this persistent twisted soul in my life. But I cannot be true to my Anglican beliefs and remain silent.

    Expressing my opinion is not judgment; it is an expression of my belief. There is a real difference. I have a slightly swollen lower lip because when I was on Los Angeles. finding my home after dinner, a group of young men were hassling a pair of transsexuals. I told them to push off. They called me the predictable range of names. Finally, I pulled a New York Detective’s card from my pocket and said, “Do you want a problem? Because if I call this guy you WILL have a problem. Ever hear of a hate crime.” They went running off into the dark, after giving me a baby punch in the face. The ladies thanked me, and we all went our way. Judgment? Hmm. Can’t say it entered into the situation, though there were some pretty angry words exchange.

    Somehow, to me, an attack on a transsexual IS an attack on me … it’s part of my larger affinity group. I consider myself to be a pretty good Christian, with lapses from time to time, which I always confess. Ask my Priest.

    Clare, you’re doing good work … as always. Time to ignore that puffed up Philistine and hit delete with he or she tries to nose into your life. You’re a truly good person, Clare … truly good. Remember that … always, always, always … you are a truly good person. And, yes, that’s judgment, oafish puffed up Philistine.


    • I watched Downfall again last night. Amazing to hear people talk of “The final victory!!” as the enemy is in their capital city. I don’t know what to make of the real Traudl Junge at the end, saying she did not know about the Jews, at the time, but when she saw on a memorial a name of a woman as young as she was, she realised being young was no excuse.


All comments welcome.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.