“This is Mary Lane,” a high school classmate of mine said over the clanging of plates in the restaurant we were eating at one Saturday night. She was introducing me to one of her friends that I had never met before.
“She’s very religious,” she went on, “—but she’s not judgmental.”
“That’s very rare,” the friend said to me, shaking my hand, almost wide-eyed in disbelief. It was apparent to me in that moment that my classmate’s friend had obviously felt “judged” at one time or another in her life by someone claiming religion.
And who hasn’t, really? In today’s world, I feel like I can’t go a day without hearing someone talking about how wonderful the world would be without religion and all the “evil” that comes with it. In pop culture, we hear a lot of celebrities claiming to be “deeply spiritual, but not religious.” Even in non-denominational Christianity, “religion” has almost become a bad word.
Why is that? Personally, I think it’s because to call someone “religious” today really is somewhat synonymous with calling them “judgmental”. Why else would it cause mouth-gaping shock for someone to meet a person who is “religious—but not judgmental”? It just doesn’t compute.
Well, don’t get too excited for me just yet. I’m pretty sure that if you talk to my new “friend” today, she would not agree with my former classmate’s assessment of my character.
It seems to me that, in order to win the title of the “non-judgmental religious” person in today’s society, you have to keep your mouth shut about what it is you actually believe. You can go to church on Sundays and you can pray quietly to yourself, but to stand up and actually profess what you believe makes you judgmental.
If this is the case, then perhaps I am judgmental. I just never got the point in believing in something if you’re not willing to stand up for it. If it doesn’t really affect your life, can you really claim to believe in it?
“Tolerance” is another word people today like to throw around. But as I understand it, what people often mean when they cry “tolerance” is to roll over and abandon your principles for the sake of not offending someone.
People today use the word “tolerance” almost interchangeably with the word “love.” I think this is a very dangerous mistake to make. Tolerance is not always love. In fact, sometimes to be intolerant is the more loving option. Would you “tolerate” your brother’s alcohol addiction out of respect for his feelings? Of course not. But do you still love him regardless? Absolutely. You love him enough to not be afraid to say that what he is doing is harmful to himself (and those around him).
Tolerance is easy. Intolerance takes courage.