NORMAN — The controversy over the recent court decision striking down the Oklahoma state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman has brought to the fore a question — what is tolerance?
Historically, tolerance has often meant a grudging acceptance of that which cannot be changed.
For instance, I tolerate the fact that I’m short. At 5-foot 5-inches I’ll never be mistaken for a large individual, and at 42 I’m unlikely to grow any direction save sideways — and with my metabolism that’s not particularly likely, either.
I hate being short. I hate having to have a step-stool in the kitchen to reach the top shelf. I hate having to pull my seat all the way forward in my truck to be able to reach the pedals. I hate struggling to find clothes that fit in the adult section of the store.
It, frankly, sucks wet armadillo fur. But neither can I do anything about it — short of some sort of Avatar-like technological innovation that lets me transfer my consciousness into a 6-foot 4-inch android with the body of Hercules, I’m never going to be a buff action-star type.
So I tolerate being short, and frankly, skinny. I don’t like it, but I tolerate it.
Likewise I tolerate many of the minor — and often infuriating infringements upon my liberty I put up with every day. From speed limits (which according to nearly every study done, do not actually make anyone safer, but that’s for another column) to the multitudinous taxes hidden as “fees” like license tags and driver’s licenses (If you start adding up all the “user fees” and other hidden taxes most of us pay more than 50 percent of our income in taxes, again another column, another time) I can’t do anything about them, so I tolerate them.
All that said, I find myself of two minds about gay marriage. On the one hand, I’m a Christian and the Bible is pretty clear about homosexuality, on the other I’m a conservative of a decidedly libertarian bent and really could care less what others do so long as it does not infringe on my rights or the rights of others. From that standpoint I have a tough time justifying opposition to gay marriage or plural marriage. (I am, in fact, a supporter of domestic partnerships. As a libertarian I think government should simply get out of marriage entirely. Then — if you can find a church willing to do it — get married all you want and file the contract separately.)
No, what I find all but intolerable is the double standard.
Tolerance for me, but not for thee.
The LGBT community wants us to tolerate their lifestyle. So be it, I really do not care with whom you sleep so long as they’re adults and consent. Not my business. But do not tell me I cannot also say it’s a sin. And yes, I get the dichotomy here. I struggle daily with the tenets of my faith and those of my ideology and trying to make them work together.
But see, here’s the problem, the LGBT community insists that Christians must not only tolerate, as in the grudging acceptance thing, but must also embrace their side of the argument. Meanwhile they refuse to tolerate the opposing side. Look at what happened to Phil Robertson when he voiced his firmly-held personal beliefs. Where was the tolerance for a differing point of view there? Where was the grudging acceptance?
If the LGBT community wants full acceptance for their view of what’s right they must first accept that others disagree with them and have every right to say so. Stop trying to force your views down our throats through the courts — or by attempting to silence and demonize the opposition — and try to change our minds, politely. (And yes Christians need to tone down our rhetoric as well, we can disagree with your lifestyle without painting you as evil. I get that.)
In the meantime we can all do a little better job of tolerating, if not accepting, other points of view — except mine, I’m always right.
All IMHO, of course.
Patrick Richardson is the managing editor of the Miami News-Record. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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