“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means” — Inigo Montoya
Among all the words in a language already so battered and bruised as to almost become unrecognizable, one word stands out for having taken the brunt of the beating.
Tolerance has been so misshapen by the abuse that many people think that it means something opposite to its nature. After all injustice the word has suffered, I am unsure if it can or even should survive. Nevertheless, I wish to testify to its true meaning, even if in eulogy.
So let us begin with the basics. Contrary to what you may have heard, tolerance of its own can never be a good thing. By its nature, tolerance means abiding a bad thing. Even in our diminished capacity, nobody would say that they tolerate something good. One doesn’t tolerate ice cream. One tolerates liver.
Metaphors aside, to tolerate is to abide something wrong, something in error, something evil.
Now many people today would have you believe that tolerance is the highest of the civic virtues, but it is not and never can be. Abiding evil can never be a virtue in and of itself and therefore it can never be demanded of anyone, least of all a Christian.
There are many reasons …