On the interwebs there’s been a whole lot of scuttlebutt about the restaurant and calls from Liberal Christians to boycott the chain and calls from Conservative Christians to support it.
From both sides I’m hearing a lot about tolerance.
From Liberals, I’m hearing about how intolerant the chain is. From Conservatives, I’m hearing about how intolerant Liberals are for not tolerating Chick-Fil-a’s intolerance. Confused yet? I get it-you’re both right. There’s a lot of general intolerance grenades lobbed back and forth. And that’s exactly the problem, we talk too much in generalities and insults. The way that the word “tolerance” and “intolerance” is thrown around in the national spotlight, the internet, and churches has led me to think that we need to be more specific with these terms. Moreover, they need to stop being used as a general insult.
Let me address both Liberal and Conservative Christian readers (Moderates you read both).
Liberals: You see, you’re not actually looking for general tolerance, or at least I hope not. So stop using the word “intolerant” without being specific to the issue a person/organization is being intolerant of. Always reiterate plainly the issue that the intolerance is aimed at or the specific issue where you want tolerance. By calling someone intolerant you are only trying to insult them and shame them. But by being specific about intolerance you are bringing the issue to light. When you throw around the term intolerant without saying “of marriage equality” (in this specific case) then you look hypocritical when you call for a boycott or applaud Chicago for not allowing Chick-Fil-a in their city. You see, when you do that, you too are being intolerant. Then,the conversation becomes a schoolyard fight about who is more intolerant. When talking to Conservatives, calling them names like intolerant is unhelpful. Discuss specific issues with others rather than level name calling attacks. You should be seeking tolerance in specific issues not tolerance as the highest moral good, because it’s not.
Conservatives: Please give the Liberals a break and understand that they don’t really mean tolerance to everything (or if they do they are fools). So you can stop pointing out how intolerant they are. They should know that they’re being intolerant of your beliefs. They believe that intolerance is how Christians should respond to issues of social justice. This is no different than your belief that Jesus would condemn some of their lifestyles as sinful and not tolerate it. Liberal Christians have a set of issues that they care deeply about and they tend to use grandiose general rhetoric that is often unhelpful. Liberals are actually not looking for you to be tolerant in general, just tolerant toward these issues. They see themselves as following in a line of Christian reformers that have changed society. It’s best to discuss the issue with them and what you believe rather than attack their intolerance. When you fight them with name calling, like they do to you, it doesn’t actually progress your view; it draws you into “I know you are, but what am I” tussle that is not beneficial to your cause.
Everyone should know that tolerance is the “willingness to accept feelings, habits, or beliefs that are different from your own.” That means that you don’t have to agree with others but you accept them as a part of society. We do this everyday with a hundred different issues. We should be at least tolerant of other religions, ethnicity, cultural habits, sexual orientations, Raiders fans…you get my drift. We have to be tolerant in order to be a civil society.
Intolerance is, “not willing to allow or accept something.” Here is why we should never say intolerance is a bad thing; there are issues and actions that most of us agree we should be intolerant towards. We should always be intolerant of pedophilia, animal cruelty, child abuse, spouse abuse, rape, slavery…are you picking up what I’m putting down? Intolerance toward the right issues is a good thing; it’s not an insult.
On the occasion that I’ve been called intolerant I don’t see it as a bad thing because I am intolerant. The general insult tells me more about the person and their civil religion than hurts my feelings. They are actually telling me the truth about myself. There are things I am unwilling to tolerate in my presence-men hitting women, hit and run drivers, people who want to hurt my children.
You too should be intolerant of some things. So let’s stop bullying each other with this general intolerance insult and talk about the issues at hand. Maybe we can come to some kind of mutual understanding through real conversation.