Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on Pinterest Connect on Google Plus Connect on Flickr Connect on YouTube

Tolerance Has Its Place, But Also Its Limits – A Brief Consideration of a Widely Misunderstood Virtue

March 11, 2015 50 Comments

Dog and catYesterday we discussed the intolerance of the very radicals who are forever calling for tolerance. A couple of people wrote in to indicate that they consider my stance duplicitous, since I likely support Archbishop Cordeleone’s stance requiring Catholic School teachers to demonstrate loyalty to Catholic teachings and promise not to teach to the contrary in Catholic schools. I do in fact support the good Archbishop. But I do not accept the charge of duplicity.

Why? Because, as I hope to teach, tolerance is a virtue, but it is not an absolute virtue. Too many “debates” in our culture hinge on an absolutizing of what is said. Tolerance has limits. In addition, context is important.

Regarding context, I would tolerate certain topics being discussed among adults that I would not tolerate being discussed in the presence of children.  I am going to be more tolerant of a dissenter from Catholic teaching speaking in the local park or debate hall than I would be of a Catholic priest dissenting in the pulpit of a Catholic Church.

There are certain contexts in which debate and disagreement are more expected and tolerated than in others. Catholic parents pay a lot of money to send their children to Catholic schools, where they reasonably expect the faith to be handed on, defended, or at the very least not openly opposed. Bishops have a right and duty to meet this expectation and to protect minors from error and dissent. I am more tolerant of even a Catholic university allowing the spirited discussion of various ideas, but I certainly think that at a Catholic university, Catholic answers would at least be vigorously presented (and surely not suppressed as we saw in yesterday’s article). So context matters in terms of how we understand the limits of tolerance.

Second, when tolerance IS extended, we can reasonably protest if certain groups are favored over others. It is one thing to say that certain groups or activities should be tolerated legally or otherwise. But then to declare that opposing groups have no right to the same tolerance or to voice their disagreement in the same matter is unjust. Many people today mistake “tolerance” to mean approval, tacit agreement, or at least feigned indifference. This is a misunderstanding.

Permit me some further thoughts on the issue of tolerance in order to address this misunderstanding. This post is not intended as a systematic treatise on tolerance. Rather, these are just some thoughts on a “virtue” that has too often become detached from reason and justice.

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines tolerance and toleration this way:

Toleration—from the Latin tolerare: to put up with, countenance, or suffer—generally refers to the conditional acceptance of or non-interference with beliefs, actions, or practices that one considers to be wrong but still “tolerable,” such that they should not be prohibited or constrained. [1]

It goes on to make a distinction that is often lost today:

[I]t is essential for the concept of toleration that the tolerated beliefs or practices are considered to be objectionable and in an important sense wrong or bad. If this objection component (cf. King 1976, 44-54) is missing, we do not speak of “toleration” but of “indifference” or “affirmation.” [2]

In other words, by definition, tolerance involves putting up with something we consider wrong or displeasing but not so wrong that we must move to constrain it. Tolerance does NOT imply that we approve of the tolerated thing as something that is good. This essential point is glossed over by those who demand that tolerance mean approval, and insist that disapproving of something makes one “intolerant.”

Of itself, tolerance is a good and necessary thing. But like most good things, it has its limits. As a good thing, tolerance is essential in an imperfect world. Without tolerance we might go to war over simple human imperfections. We all have friends and family members whom we like, but who also have annoying or less desirable traits (as do all human beings). Without tolerance we would be locked in a fruitless attempt to re-make each person so as to be “perfect” to us. We tolerate people’s less desirable aspects for loftier purposes such as harmony, friendship, respect, mercy, and kindness.

However, there are limits to tolerance. There are just some things in human relationships that are “deal breakers.” There are things that cannot be tolerated. For example, serious and persistent lies breach the trust necessary for relationships and such behavior is not reasonably tolerated. Behavior that endangers one or both parties (either physically or spiritually) ought not be tolerated and often makes it necessary to end relationships or at least to establish firm boundaries.

In wider society tolerance is also necessary and good but has its limits. For example, we appreciate the freedom to come and go as we please and it is good to tolerate the comings and goings of others. This is true even if some of the places they go (e.g., a brothel) do not please us or win our approval. Without this general tolerance of movement, things would literally grind to a halt. But for the sake of the value of coming and going freely, we put up with its less desirable aspects.

However this tolerance has its limits. We do not permit people to drive on sidewalks, run red lights, or drive on the wrong side of the street. Neither do we permit breaking and entering or the violation of legitimate property rights. We also restrict unaccompanied minors from certain establishments. In effect, every just law enshrines some limit to tolerance. Conservatives and liberals debate what limits the law should enshrine, but both sides want civil law to set some limits. Even libertarians, while wanting less law in general, see a role for some laws and limits; they are not anarchists.

So, toleration is a good and necessary thing but it has its limits. Our modern struggle with the issue of tolerance seems to be twofold:

  1. The common understanding of tolerance, as we have discussed, is flawed. Many people equate tolerance with approval, and call disapproval “intolerance.” But, as we have seen, without some degree of disapproval, tolerance is not possible.
  2. The second problem centers around the limits of tolerance. In our modern world we are being asked to tolerate increasingly troublesome behavior. A lot of this behavior involves sexual matters. Proponents of sexual promiscuity demand increasing tolerance for it despite the fact that such behavior leads to disease, abortion, teenage pregnancy, single-parent families, sexual temptation, divorce, and all the ills that go with a declining family structure. Abortion proponents also demand tolerance of what they advocate, despite the fact that this behavior results in the death of an innocent human being. Many people of faith think that the limits of tolerance have been transgressed in matters such as these.

Rapprochement? The debate about tolerance and its limits is not a new one, but it seems more intense today when there no longer appears to be a shared moral vision. Perhaps we cannot as easily define the limits of tolerance today. But one way forward might be to return to a proper definition of tolerance. Perhaps if we stop (incorrectly) equating tolerance with approval, a greater respect will be instilled in these debates. To ask for tolerance is not always wrong, but to demand approval is.

Consider the debate over homosexual activity. Many people of faith, at least those who hold to a more strictly biblical view, believe homosexual behavior to be wrong. The same can be said for illicit heterosexual behavior such as fornication, adultery, polygamy, and incest. But on account of our disapproval of homosexual behavior we are often called “intolerant” (and many other things as well such as homophobic, bigoted, and hateful).

But tolerance is really not the issue. Most Christians are willing to tolerate the fact the people “do things in their bedrooms” of which we disapprove. As long as we are not directly confronted with private behavior and told to approve of it, we are generally willing to stay out of people’s private lives. But what has happened in modern times is that approval is demanded for behavior we find objectionable. And when we cannot supply such approval we are called intolerant. This is a misuse of the term.

Further, what if our objections do not simply emerge from bigotry (as some claim) but rather from a principled, biblical stance? Our disapproval does not, ipso facto, make us bigots. Neither does it mean we are intolerant or that we seek to force an end to behavior we do not consider good. Very few Christians I have ever heard from are asking for police to patrol the streets, enter bedrooms, and make arrests.

We are not intolerant; we simply do not approve of homosexual activity. And, according to the proper definition of tolerance, it is the very fact of our disapproval that permits us to show tolerance. Perhaps such a consideration might instill greater respect and less name-calling in these debates.

As an aside, Gay “marriage” is a more complicated matter since it involves existing law and a demanded change in that law by proponents of so-called “gay marriage.” Most traditional Christians see a limit to tolerance here since we believe that God defined and established marriage as described in Genesis. Hence we cannot support attempts to substitute a human redefinition of something we believe was instituted by God.

Finally, I offer a thought as to who really “owns” tolerance. Opponents of traditional Christians often claim the high ground of tolerance for themselves. But the paradoxical result of this “holier-than-thou” attitude is an increasing intolerance of Christian faith by the self-claimed tolerant ones. Legal restrictions of the proclamation of the Christian faith in the public square are increasing. Financial exclusion of Catholic charities from government money used in serving the poor is becoming more common as well. In other parts of the world where free speech is less enshrined, Catholic priests and bishops are being sued and even arrested for “hate speech” because they preach traditional biblical morality. None of this sounds very “tolerant.”

Our opponents need not approve of our beliefs but they ought to exhibit greater tolerance of us, the same tolerance they ask from us.

Please add your thoughts to this discussion.

Filed in: Uncategorized

Comments (50)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Suzan says:

    ISIS is what intolerance looks like.

  2. Bee bee says:

    One aspect of tolerance is the ability to know and hold fast to what one believes to be true while listening to and understanding the idea the other fellow holds to be true, and allowing the other to hold that idea without needing to persuade him of your own. It is at the very heart of debate. How can a Catholic university be a place of an exchange of ideas when some points of view are excluded before the discussion even begins? It’s as if the rigid intolerance of some very far right wing groups (the KKK for instance?) are now being adopted by the far left, with the same effect.

    • Jeanne D'Arc says:

      You say: “and allowing the other to hold that idea without needing to persuade him of your own”

      So, Hitler’s ideas were to be tolerated? And today, ISIS’ ideas are to be tolerated?

      Who is Truth?

      • lisag says:

        Your response is inane. Monsignor Pope said there is a limit to tolerance.

        • Jeanne D'Arc says:

          My response was in reply to Bee bee’s comment above, not to Msgr. Pope’s brilliant and insightful article.
          I wholeheartedly agree that there is a limit to tolerance. But is there also a limit to responding in love with Truth? Bee bee seemed to state that tolerance implies remaining silent, or at least withholding Truth.
          Perhaps my interpretation was incorrect.

    • Repent and Believe the Gospel! says:

      “How can a Catholic university be a place of an exchange of ideas when some points of view are excluded before the discussion even begins?”

      BECAUSE it is CATHOLIC! The Catholic schools go by Jesus’ standard not by the
      worldly FILTH/garbage/clown standard!

      Obama is the most intolerant man with his HHS mandate; he doesn’t care about Catholic teachings. He is pro-abort and pro-contraception and punishes people by using UNJUST LAW (taxation/fee in the millions) if they disagree with his evil mandate.

      See Jesus will not tolerate His children not having eternal life:

      “He that believeth in the Son, hath life everlasting; but he that believeth NOT the Son, shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” – John 3:36

    • Ern says:

      Respectfully, you have changed the Subject. “What one believes to be true” is not necessarily “THE Truth”. “What one believes to be true” would be an individual and subjective Concept of Truth.

      “What one believes to be true” would fall into the Realm of “Truth is relative, as my Truth is not the same as your Truth”.

    • Mary says:

      The kkk was formed by the same democrat party that was the party of slavery (still are apparently) and wrote the Jim Crow laws, and no, the parties didn’t change places, democrat senators in 1957 voted against the civil rights act, included, Lyndon Johnson, Robert Byrd, William Fulbright (he of the scholarship, a big wheel in the kkk, Bill Clinton’s hero), John F Kennedy, Al Gore Sr, to name a few. The left birthed Marxism (communism & socialism), which created bolshevism, fascism, nazi-ism. The groups that lifted Hitler to power were labor unions, environmentalists, academics, student groups, actors and homosexuals. They all thought the national socialist worker’s party would create a utopia. The communists/socialists of the USSR starved, tortured & slaughtered approximately 100 million innocent Christian civilians in 50 years alone. So kindly take your ‘right wing’ palaver & stuff it.

      • David F says:

        Bravo Mary I enjoyed your response

      • Terry Carlino says:

        For the record. The 1957 vote was engineered by Lyndon Johnson in a blatant attempt to prevent the Republican party from garnering support from the African American community. He used every trick in the book to prevent a earlier passage of the Voting Rights Act, which was a related piece of legislation, until a member of the Democratic party was in the White House, even though the Democratic Party held both houses and could have passed the act, which Eisenhower supported. Of course the act was designed to overcome discriminatory practices which were primarily carried out in southern states which were almost universally controlled by the Democratic Party.

    • Shawn Marshall says:

      to call the KKK ‘far right’ is misleading. The KKK was founded by Demoncrats and had Demoncrats in Congress.
      It had nothing to do with Constitutional rigor as promulgated by the ‘right’ people.

  3. Todd says:

    A couple of scriptures come to mind both in apocalypse chapter 2 verse 2 “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear evil men but have tested those who call themselves apostles but are not, and found them to be false;

    I’m thinking you could substitute the word tolerate for “bear’ evil men,” and then; 20* But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and beguiling my servants to practice immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.

    We are called to call good and evil by their proper names. Love the sinner hate the sin. It is also awesome that in this same chapter God says to us; 6 Yet this you have, you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. I understand that to mean God hates the works (sins – evil) which the Nicolaitans were doing. Those actions. The Nicolaitans I believe were the religious compromisers of their day.

  4. John says:


    As you have already pointed out, context matters. In the case of Archbishop Cordeleone, he is not promoting “intolerance”, but is rather insisting on a Catholic unity of vision, and standards of workplace conduct from his Archdiocese employees. As an employee you don’t get to work counter to your employer’s fundamental principles and policies. In the real world that gets you fired!

  5. Brad says:

    Thank you Msgr. Pope, a very thoughtful article.

    I was incredibly saddened this week reading over a Facebook post from a friend who was criticizing the racial bigotry displayed by that fraternity (or at least some of its members) down in Oklahoma. The post tied this bigotry to Christianity and to the opposition to so called “gay marriage.”

    Many people responded in support, yes, Christianity is a religion of haters and bigots. This person was a fallen away Catholic. She believes Jesus taught us to love and so all things love should be affirmed by all. How mixed up she and nearly every respondent proved to be. Not only do we misunderstand tolerance, as Msgr. Pope explains so well, but we likewise misunderstand love. One lone reply disagreed with her characterization and the pitchfork crowd quickly showed up to point out how they are on the right side of history and Christians who oppose the gay agenda are like the KKK.

    I’m not sure what is to be done…

  6. Nancy says:

    I would be very interested to hear your teaching on what our responsibility is here, what are we supposed to do? Are we to stay quiet and be “tolerant” or speak up and proclaim the truth? These are very confusing times and the church has not really offered much guidance in how to deal with this ever expanding issue; except “who am I to judge?” I know we are called to love but I’m unsure if it is wrong to simply “tolerate” and that one day our Lord will ask why we didn’t speak up and edify instead. As we all know though this prospect is not only daunting but quite risky if you want to keep your job, your business, your neighbors etc.
    Please advise.
    Thank you.

    • C Beltz says:

      Examine your own faith. Are you able to bring Jesus’ name into everyday discussion without fear? Is His name easy to say to anyone you speak with? Can you plainly articulate your own reasons for your faith and faith practices (i.e. Sunday mass, Lenten observances) in a way that is easy to understand?

      This is where you start. Pray and trust God to move you where you need to go and be not afraid.

  7. Richard Connell says:

    I wouldn’t add or subtract a word from this well-reasoned and even-handed article, which for some reason brought to my mind the Book of Lamentations. My thoughts are too jumbled to express at this time, except to say that I agree with my mother who says that things have to get better.

  8. Paul H says:

    Monsignor, thank you for a great post. I remember you had another excellent post about tolerance a few years ago, and I am glad to see an updated take on the same subject.

    Regarding your aside (near the end of your post), I see legal recognition of homosexual “marriages” as a form of approval of homosexual relationships. I think that if the government, which is supposed to represent the people, grants official recognition to homsexual relationships, then this is akin to society giving a stamp of approval to that type of relationship. So I oppose the redefinition of marriage not out of intolerance, but out of an unwillingness to give a societal stamp of approval to a relationship that is based on sexual immorality. I would oppose government recognition of polygamy and other relationships based on sexual immorality for the same reasons — not because I won’t tolerate such unions and such behavior, but because I don’t approve of them.

    • C Beltz says:

      I think the problem is not so much what I might approve or disapprove of as much as the moral authority of our government to govern. With the multitude of polls about every dang subject, with all the wonks and all the petitions, our government has in effect thrown up its collective hands and left morality to the masses, thereby negating any authority whatsoever.

      We have no yardstick, no straight line from which to stray. We are all over the place in an “anything goes” society which has left us confused. Add to that the Internet, allowing everyone a superiority complex behind the safety of a glass screen, and now we have a nice recipe for anarchy.

      All men were not created equal. That is a lie and that lie will bring down our country. I am unique, I am no better or worse than my neighbor, but I am not equal to him either.

      • Paul H says:

        I have always understood “all men are created equal” to mean that all people are created equal in dignity, in value, in rights, and so on — not necessarily equal in terms of abilities or other attributes. Would you agree with “all men are created equal” if it is defined the way that I mentioned here?

        • C Beltz says:

          I would, however the plain language reading of the statement is what most Americans hang their hats on. It’s why the gay community believes homosexual marriage is their right, it’s why our children are being taught to a test rather than to learn. Our government has thrown out the original ideal in an ill fated attempt to promote sameness as equality.

          • C Beltz says:

            Oh, and just to throw this out, at the time the original statement was written into our history, our country actively engaged in the slave trade and was removing the native Americans from their lands rather forcibly. It would appear from this that the original signers did not mean all men were created equal. Hence the lie.

            But I agree, your definition is better than what we have actually practiced.

          • Shawn Marshall says:

            ‘all men are created equal’ — that often misconstrued phrase only meant that there was to be no aristocracy in the US. The adulteration of language and morals continues apace in the US. God, if he so desired, could have created us all equal. He specifically did not. He also magnificently made every snowflake unique. And some people doubt His Creativity.

  9. C Beltz says:

    Have you noticed the words used by the neuvo-tolerant use to describe anyone who fails to see things their way. Bigot, hater, Neanderthal, Homophobe. Names used to belittle the speaker, rather than words used to engage in healthy discussion.

    And why do they do this? Several reasons, many of which I may never know, but in particular, fear. Let’s face it. A healthy discussion of these intolerable matters would shed light on them, and those living in darkness cannot stand the light. It burns and blinds. It hurts to see what they refuse to see, that they are wrong, they are prideful, they are mistaken.

    They know all this, trust me they do. It’s why they fight all the harder. They are trying to drown out their own internal voice (God) that is telling them the truth. No matter how hard they try, it’s always there, though, whispering ever so gently, “I love you”. It’s deafening.

    • Paul H says:

      C Beltz,

      This is a good point. Many in the new tolerance police use tactics like name-calling and shouting down opposing views, rather than calmly engaging people in a discussion of ideas. To me, these tactics convey the impression that they don’t have a strong position to argue from. However, I guess that these tactics must be effective, or they probably wouldn’t use them.

    • Iacomus says:

      Yes, what you’ve said about fear, but they also reduce and malign with labels precisely because their narcissistic views prevent them seeing that we are all equal in dignity before God. The professional victim, unaccountable, has a sense of entitlement. The professional victim must have an abuser or oppressor. So they project certain attributes upon their perceived enemies to justify, to themselves and those like minded, their delusion. This is one thing I’ve noticed about the tyranny of relativism. I don’t know why the need to redefine terms but this has nothing to do with tolerance. I can tolerate a bad headache, the flu, a crying infant at Mass… and how about the way they’re attempting to redifine ‘phobia’?

  10. ML/NJ says:

    Psalm 15

    L-rd who may abide in Your house?
    [Among others, he] In whose eyes a vile person is despised.

  11. edraCRUZ says:

    At the rate of ideas and things that need to be tolerated in the society, one can surmise that it would be better for man to seek GOD in monasteries and hermitages rather than engage in endless debates and discussion because the society now do not accept absolutes, because every idea even the most debase are being accepted as truth, because everything, every truth is relative as what applies to one self demands of happiness and that faith is not accepted even though it is coupled by reason. If one will discern this world now it is being corrupted by ideologies and thoughts that are thoroughly without moral compass which of those in faith cannot and must not tolerate, neither those without morals can tolerate those who are in faith. You see, we have gone bankrupt and only the work of the HOLY SPIRIT can show us the Way to the Truth that we may have Life to the full. Ora et labora we must to bring us back to basic of GOD.

  12. TeaPot562 says:

    A very good discussion and explanation of the limits of “Tolerance”.
    Thank you.

  13. Jim M. says:

    A wise man once wrote about the confusion that exists between kindness and true charity. Kindness being an act and charity being a true virtue driven by love. So too we see the modern confusion surrounding tolerance. We certainly tolerate each others idiosyncracies and personality differences, but not even secular society tolerates the criminal acts of its members.

    Jesus told us the two greatest Commandments were to love God with all heart, mind, body, soul and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. And when you think about it, those two take care of the rest. That deep, to the core love Jesus describes would have us in agony at tge thought of hurting one we hold so dear. Loving our neighbor as we love ourselves would prevent us from inflicting and mental or physical harm on another.

    As to tolerance, tolerance without love is “enabling”. If we tolerate sin, things we know are abonominations to our Lord, we enable those engaged in those acts and behavior to follow the path to Perdition. Tolerance with love sets a much different standard. In the latter case, we don’t accept the ruin of souls.

    Secular laws used to be in sync with the Commandments and the Bible. Satan has worked to chip away at those similarities, using what were once sacred notions of God gives inalienable rights, like equality, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, to change mankind’s perception into one of righrs endowed by man, not God. Which changes the nature if a right into a privilege, erasing any notion of God.

    For 5000 years, God’s Word and man’s laws were closely aligned. Over the last 50 years, 5000 years of morality, good snd evil have

  14. Jim M. says:

    …have been turned upside down. What was evil is good; what was good is now evil.

    In large measure, that decay has been helped along by the highjacking of what tolerance really must be. It is not a concept that can be separated from morality, nor from Christian charity. For without love, tolerance enables decay and destruction, sin and lawlessness, and an abandonment of the love we have for vour neighbor.

    So while I struggle not to judge, I have no fear in being labeled intolerant when I bear witness to behavior bent on the destruction of the soul. For the battle is not with my fellow man, but with those principalities and powers yearning for more souls in the fiery abyss.

    St Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle……

  15. Anonymous says:

    Would you applying the same reasoning to the Cheryl Abbate case from your post yesterday? While I don’t personally agree with her remarks to the student after her class, she had just come from teaching an introductory ethics course for the philosophy department and her class that day had been on John Rawl’s difference principle–not on the subject of same-sex marriage at all. Is it inappropriate for Ms. Abbate to present philosophical arguments criticizing the church position on same-sex marriage at Marquette? I imagine this same question is part of the concern about Archbishop Cordeleone (which might perhaps be why some accused you of a double standard). Would it be inappropriate in your view for an philosophy teacher in a Catholic High School to present philosophical arguments criticizing the church’s position on same-sex marriage as part of an ethics course, regardless of whether the instructor agrees with them? It seems to a lot of people (including me) believe that Archbishop Cordeleone’s decision wouldn’t allow a philosophy teacher to do this in such circumstances, which would be contrary to the intend of a philosophy course.

    • I state pretty clearly in the article why I think the two cases are different. Did you read this? If so why do you disagree? As for the SF case, there are no philosophy teachers at the elementary level. Not sure about High school, I think it is a prudential call. Generally no to your scenario however. In College I would permit a wider discussion, but I want both sides debated and the Catholic position made very clear.

      Finally, why do you write anonymously. What are you afraid of? Who are you??

    • C Beltz says:

      A discussion implies all parties engaged in same may speak. If the professor’s objection was only that the students were off topic, then it would be her job to bring them back to the fold. If however there was no singular topic being discussed, then her actions were not tolerant or ethical.

      Why would a teacher in any institution criticize the church? It seems to me that would move the discussion from an honest debate among students to actual teacher led instruction. In any institution it is not ethical for a teacher to promote their own ideals, only to fairly present the topic in an instructive manner. Furthermore, if a teacher should find herself in a critical role, she should probably understand the opposing side’s viewpoint in an effort to honestly deate it as a lesson, rather than censor it because it does not follow her own sensibilities. Fear based instruction does not educate.

    • lisag says:

      The problem is that the Catholic Truth is not taught or allowed to be discussed in classrooms of Catholic institutions. The pro alternative lifestyle is everywhere. In my own son’s experience at Cardinal Newman High School in Santa Rosa an English teacher who adores Oscar Wilde, tells the class that he is “gay” and then conveniently leaves out the fact that he converted to Catholicism in prison. Half truths are not truths at all. Slipping in personal beliefs can occur in any class there does not have to be a directed conversation.

  16. Picard Ale says:

    Monsignor Pope:”Many people of faith, at least those who hold to a more strictly biblical view, believe homosexual behavior to be wrong. The same can be said for illicit heterosexual behavior such as fornication, adultery, polygamy, and incest.”
    I dont think polygamy should be on your list. BTW Father Abraham and Father Jacob were both polygamist; so too was King David.
    We can still make the argument without denigrating polygamy which St. Thomas Aquinas says is not against natural law.

    • There is a higher bar than something not being against “Natural Law” I have dealt with Polygamy previously. You can type in the search bar to find it. The Patriarchs you mentioned all got into serious trouble with their polygamy. God’s plan: A man shall leave his father and mother and cling to his wife (not wives) and the TWO (not many) of them shall be one.

      • Picard Ale says:

        Even if they got into problems with their polygamy, still polygamy can never be equated with fornication, adultery or incest, not to talk of sodomy.
        Polygamy is not a sin in the Old Testament; I think that is fairly clear to all Christians.
        BTW many monogamist also got into trouble in the Old Testament, even in their monogamous relationship.

    • Repent and Believe the Gospel! says:

      Polygamy IS against God’s plan. Look at Adam and Eve as the prime example. God could have made Adam and Eve, Veronica, Betty, Joan, etc. BUT HE DIDN’T!


      “The two shall become one flesh” NOT “The three or four or five or six shall become one flesh.”

      God had to work with Abraham and David, imperfect and sinful men.

      Eventually, God moves us away from the MAN-MADE FILTH ARRANGEMENTS with the coming of Jesus Christ:

      “And the TWO shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” – Mark 10:8-9

      Wow, this so hard for people to comprehend!

      • Picard Ale says:

        Polygamy was not a sin in the Old Testament. Period!

        • Methinks thou doest protest too much. Why are you so adamant about what is at best a failed social structure and at worst a sin, condemned by the Church today? The OT period is not our measure, the full scope of Christian teaching is. Otherwise you’d better be eating kosher, and parents are still “allowed” to have their disobedient children stoned. Thus you also engage in dubious biblical interpretation.

          • Picard Ale says:

            Finally, the Lord our God is the same: yesterday, today and tomorrow.

          • Repent and Believe the Gospel! says:

            Yes, the Lord is the same: yesterday, today and tomorrow.


            OUR MODEL IS ADAM AND EVE. Not man-made DISGUSTING, FILTHY arrangements!

          • Repent and Believe the Gospel! says:

            IT STARTED WITH ADAM AND EVE That’s our perfect model!

          • Picard Ale says:

            That seeing they will not percieve; and hearing they will not understand

  17. Plain Catholic says:

    Tolerance is about respect for each person’s Free Will choice given to him/her by God. God gave us the right to choose our path with or without Him. We all know the consequences of walking without God. We all know the rewards of walking with God.

    We live our Christian discipleship in hope and joy as a witness. There will always be people who argue with us over our Free Will choice to follow God. Some are just filled with hate and multiple emotional problems. Some are just lonely and want attention so they argue to keep your attention on them. We are called to pray for them all and ask God to perfect the situation.

    1 Peter 3 says:
    15 … Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason
    for your hope,
    16 but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so
    that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may
    themselves be put to shame.
    17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than
    for doing evil.
    18 For Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the
    unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was
    brought to life in the spirit.

    If the other persons do not listen because they simply like to argue we have Matthew 10:14 –
    “And if any one will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town.”

  18. Shawn Ford says:

    Very nice article, I enjoyed reading it. Very important to discern between tolerance and acceptance. Most of the time you hear someone demanding tolerance, they are really demanding acceptance. If someone is demanding I accept something perverse I like to ask them “Is there anything that you find perverse and unacceptable, what is it”. Usually they do not directly respond to that or are stumped for a second.

Leave a Reply

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.