The Intolerance Of Tolerance (Part 2): The Affirmation Sandwich

As noted in my previous post, disagreement is not denigration. By definition, we cannot truly “tolerate” someone unless we disagree with them in some way. True tolerance means I disagree with you, but I still choose to love and respect you as a fellow human being made in the image of God.

They key to combatting to the wrong view of tolerance (lest you be labeled intolerant!) is to differentiate the person from the idea they hold. Bring it back to the real definition of tolerance which asserts that you can disagree with someone and still love them.

Use an affirmation sandwich. Tell them:

  • I love you as a person.
  • I disagree with that idea.
  • I love you as a person.

Keep the conversation in the realm of ideas, conspicuously detached from personal attacks. Avoid using personal pronouns such as “you” and “your,” even when referencing ideas. Say things like, “That idea doesn’t hold merit because….,” and offer reasons why you disagree. If things start to get contentious, affirm the other person by reminding them, “I’m not against you as a person; you’re my friend, and I love you; I simply disagree with that idea/concept/belief system/etc. But I can still love you even if we disagree on an idea.”

Disagreement is not denigration. In fact, if you have to agree on everything in order to be friends with someone, is that truly friendship? Disagreement allows room for individuality, diversity, and free will. Forcing someone to agree with you on everything isn’t love; it’s coercion. Even God allows room for someone to express their disagreement with Him for the rest of eternity. Love isn’t truly love unless we have the opportunity to express our own will.

Today’s version of “tolerance” is a prime indicator of how our culture has elevated the second of the greatest commandments above the first: we love the praises of other people more than we love God. This is true even in the body of Christ. Because we aren’t secure in who we are in Christ, we look to others to affirm us and give us value.

Lastly, the trump card of the new “tolerance” is nothing more than a display of intellectual cowardice. We fear man more than we fear God, so we are unwilling to engage in meaningful dialogue about the merit of one idea against another lest we forfeit someone else’s approval.

My next post will discuss the underlying reason why our culture practices “tolerance” toward everyone except those who align themselves with the Word of God.