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David Hegg: Find grace in tolerance and disagreement

Posted: April 21, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: April 21, 2013 2:00 a.m.
 

During the recent edition of college basketball’s championship tournament I took great pleasure in cheering for my team. And, we did pretty well, but lost in the Elite Eight round.

While that was disheartening, it didn’t dampen the fun I had arguing with many of my friends and relatives about the merits of my team versus their favorite.

At times we really got in to it, and disagreements surfaced at every turn.

We weren’t playing around either. We really disagreed. But our disagreements never meant we stopped liking or loving one another.

I remember when our country’s leaders decided to argue the merits of invading Kuwait in order to stop Iraq’s invasion and threatened annexation of Kuwait.

I watched as members of Congress verbally battled back and forth trying to convince their opponents of just how wrong they were.

There were deep disagreements, but I smile to think back on the fact that these men and women didn’t take up fists or in anyway turn their disagreement into personal hatred.

Once again the world saw the genius of America’s grand experiment in democracy.

Disagreement doesn’t equate to hatred.

In fact, that’s what the word "tolerance" means: to put up with, in a respectful manner, both the ideas you reject and the people who hold them.

Unfortunately, much of the narrative being written in our national conversation today rejects this definition of tolerance.

For far too many, to disagree with me means you are either afraid of me, or hate me.

Neither of these options actually allows for tolerance, on either side.

So, for all you who read my column, let me make some things clear from my end. I don’t believe homosexuality fits into the category of righteous sexuality.

I neither hate homosexuals, and nor am afraid of them or their agenda.

They have every right to use whatever legal means necessary to put forth their case and attain their goals.

America is, and has always been, a pluralistic society. I tolerate both them and their lifestyle as is fitting for one called to peace.

This tolerance must live on their side of the aisle as well, as they extend to those holding my view the right to use every legal means to argue both the historical precedent and practical benefits of marriage as one woman, one man, one lifetime.

What I am proposing here is simply an ethical view of tolerance.

While hatred is often displayed through disagreement, not all disagreement equates to hatred, or fear, or any other negative.

To insist that all disagreement is really either hatred or fear is simply unethical, and ultimately unhelpful in seeking rapprochement between dueling beliefs.

Growing up my father was my hero and primary teacher.

I still carry around many of the aphorisms that formed the air I breathed as a child.

Dad often said "Revenge is never sweet; hurting those who hurt you only brings more hurt."

I now realize that his words were a great definition of what real tolerance looks like. And let’s never forget that a country built on the melting of several races, cultures, and belief systems must never lose the true meaning of tolerance.

To do so will bring either the tyranny of the few, or the division of the many.

David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church and a Santa Clarita resident. Ethically Speaking runs every Sunday.

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