Tolerance does not mean condone

Last week The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints posted a position paper in the online Newsroom entitled, “The Divine Institution of Marriage.” In the section on Tolerance an attempt is made to define the word and contrast it with the way the world uses it today – to condone – acceptance of wrongful behavior as the price of friendship.

Tolerance does not mean condone. As a gospel principle, tolerance means love and forgiveness of one another, not tolerating transgression. Just because someone practices tolerance does not imply that they accept sinful behavior. Acceptance of an individual does not necessarily mean that we approve of their behavior. We do not accept sin.

The definition of tolerance has changed over the years by those who use it in their efforts to change attitudes and prohibit practices that they define as discrimination. It has come to mean acceptance of sexual practices and orientations that are contrary to fundamental beliefs of society. We can be a tolerant people and yet not accept certain behavior.

Prophets have helped define tolerance

Elder Dallin H. Oaks explained, “Tolerance obviously requires a non-contentious manner of relating toward one another’s differences. But tolerance does not require abandoning one’s standards or one’s opinions on political or public policy choices. Tolerance is a way of reacting to diversity, not a command to insulate it from examination.”

Elder Russell M. Nelson taught, “…there is a difference between tolerance and tolerate. Your gracious tolerance for an individual does not grant him or her license to do wrong, nor does your tolerance obligate you to tolerate his or her misdeed. That distinction is fundamental to an understanding of this vital virtue.” We do not tolerate wrongdoing.

“An erroneous assumption could be made that if a little of something is good, a lot must be better. Not so! Overdoses of needed medication can be toxic. Boundless mercy could oppose justice. So tolerance, without limit, could lead to spineless permissiveness. The Lord drew boundary lines to define acceptable limits of tolerance.” He made the rules.

Certain behavior is prohibited as sin

Many who advocate tolerance also declare that there is no sin. We as a church believe and teach otherwise. We disagree and speak out against both homosexual behavior and same-sex marriage on moral grounds. We also do not believe that it can be considered “hate speech” to make our position known. We are simply teaching God’s laws.

We have a right to identify and clearly teach what God has defined as sin. God has made it clear that marriage is to be between a man and a woman. We teach that marriage is ordained of God, that it is sacred, with the purpose being to bring children into the world. What God has ordained in marriage, man does not have the right to redefine or change.

We do not condemn those who feel the pull of same-sex attraction. We do not know why some struggle with this temptation. But we do teach that it is just that – a temptation. The Lord clearly identifies adultery and fornication as sin, so too is homosexual behavior. The inclination or temptation itself it not sin. It is only the behavior that becomes sin.

God judges behavior and so do we

In addition to being accused of intolerance and discrimination, we are often accused of judging, as if it is something wrong. God is the judge of all human behavior and has made it clear that he will not accept certain kinds of behavior in his kingdom. We follow his example and make judgments on behavior. There is nothing wrong with doing this.

We all must judge for ourselves what is good and what is evil. In fact, God commanded it. In John 7:24 he told us to judge righteous judgment. Nowhere in scripture does it say, “Thou shalt not judge.” The Joseph Smith translation of Matthew 7:1 reads, “Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged: but judge righteous judgment.” What a difference.

“I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ…But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil…” (Moroni 7:16-17)

Opposition to same-sex marriage

The opposition of our church to same-sex marriage is not hostility toward homosexual men and women. Our objective is to protect the definition of marriage as only being between a man and a woman. We do not condone any kind of hostility towards those who identify themselves as homosexual. We love them as sons and daughters of God.

We feel that the recent court decisions in Massachusetts and California to allow same-sex marriage constitutes a serious threat to marriage and the family. Such a trend weakens the institution of marriage and will result in negative consequences for both adults and children. Traditional marriage is essential to society and especially to our children.

It is within the family that traditional moral values are propagated and protected. There is very strong agreement across America on what marriage is. The people in California voted on this issue just eight years ago. Over 61% of the voters decided that marriage should be defined as only between a man and a woman. This is a great moral issue.

Summary and conclusion

The statements in this essay were either taken from the position paper of the church or are derived from teachings of modern day apostles and prophets. We contend that this is a moral issue, which is why the church has taken a position and had asked the membership to become involved in advocating that position. I agree with the position of the church.

We do not accept the definition that some use for the word tolerance to mean approval or acceptance of behavior. We love and accept all individuals as children of God, regardless of their actions, but we do not condone certain kinds of behavior that God has defined as sin. Our opposition to same-sex marriage should not be construed as discrimination.

Despite my authoritative tone in this essay, please remember that I do not speak for the church, but have attempted here to restate the position of the church on this issue as I understand it. This is simply an attempt to use my best efforts to support the coalition of churches and other organizations to preserve and protect traditional marriage – Yes on 8.

16 thoughts on “Tolerance does not mean condone”

  1. We have started a blog specifically to defend traditional marriage in California and to promote the passage of the constitutional amendment that will be on the ballot this November that retains marriage as between a man and a woman.Please join us at

  2. It may not mean “condone,” but it DOES mean “allow.”If you don’t like same-sex marriage, don’t have one. But don’t deny important CIVIL rights to a group of people just because you believe an invisible superbeing says it’s wrong.

  3. Hi Tom,Thanks for visiting my blog. Tolerance does not necessarily mean allow when it may cause the loss of my religious liberties. Let’s take the idea that it is right or wrong out of the picture and focus just on civil rights and religious liberties.Once a state government declares that same-sex unions are a civil right, those governments almost certainly will enforce a wide variety of other policies intended to ensure that there is no discrimination against same-sex couples. This may well place church and state on a collision course.Some advocates of same-sex marriage are suggesting that tax exemptions and benefits be withdrawn from any religious organization that does not embrace same-sex unions.Thus, if same-sex marriage becomes a recognized civil right, there will be substantial conflicts with religious freedom. And in some important areas, religious freedom may be diminished. We are very concerned about what our children will be taught in schools that is contrary to our religious beliefs.The establishment of same-sex marriage as a civil right will inevitably require mandatory changes in school curricula. When the state says that same-sex unions are equivalent to heterosexual marriages, the curriculum of public schools will have to support this claim.Beginning with elementary school, children will be taught that marriage can be defined as a relation between any two adults and that consensual sexual relations are morally neutral. Classroom instruction on sex education in secondary schools can be expected to equate homosexual intimacy with heterosexual relations.These developments will create serious clashes between the agenda of the secular school system and the right of parents to teach their children traditional standards of morality. That’s why we feel that it is more than an issue of civil rights. It is a matter of asserting our religious liberties. When governments presume to redefine the nature of marriage, issuing regulations to ensure public acceptance of non-traditional unions, they have moved a step closer to intervening in the sacred sphere of domestic life. Can you see the conflict between civil rights and religious liberties? It’s clear to me.

  4. Thank you, Tim, for your thoughtful response.I appreciate your concerns on religious liberty, but if you examine the issue deeply, I think you’ll find marriage equality and religious liberty are, you’ll pardon me, married to each other. Ultimately you can’t have one without the other. Yes, there will be places where the rights of gay people will come into conflict with other’s rights to free practice of religion, but when religious practice comes into conflict with civil law, we can tolerate (there’s that word again)some exemptions for religion, without overturning civil law. For example, today’s decision from the California Supreme Court. If a doctor has a religious conviction that prevent him or her from performing a certain procedure, they may choose not to perform that procedure. But if they choose to perform a procedure, they may not deny that procedure to a person because of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc.From FindLaw: “Hundreds of laws, ranging from zoning regulations to conscription statutes to restrictions on the use of illegal drugs, contain religious exemptions that limit the laws’ application.””The same law that causes no problem from a Protestant’s point of view may substantially burden the religious practices of a Jew, or a Catholic, or a Native American. For religious liberty to be meaningful, courts have to take religious variations into account.Of course, the same argument applies to gay rights and same-sex marriages. Courts have to take the sexual orientation of each individual into account if the right to marry is to have meaningful value to gays and lesbians. Just as the free exercise of religion is useless to an Orthodox Jew if it only protects his right to observe Sunday as the Sabbath, so too the right to marry is an empty guarantee if it only protects a lesbian’s right to marry a man.”Basically, we’re in this freedom thing together.A few other responses:”The establishment of same-sex marriage as a civil right will inevitably require mandatory changes in school curricula. When the state says that same-sex unions are equivalent to heterosexual marriages, the curriculum of public schools will have to support this claim.”Of course, that will be the nature of civil marriage. And you are free to tell your kids that “marriage,” to you and your family, means something different. You can even say it’s better and more sacred if you want.”Beginning with elementary school, children will be taught that marriage can be defined as a relation between any two adults and that consensual sexual relations are morally neutral.”I don’t think elementary schools will really get into the moral nature of sexuality. Besides, you can teach them differently. Don’t you have more influence on them than your child’s 6th grade teacher? And thanks to those activist judges, you also have the right to teach your children at home.”Classroom instruction on sex education in secondary schools can be expected to equate homosexual intimacy with heterosexual relations.”I doubt it. They’ll still be teaching biology, after all. “When governments presume to redefine the nature of marriage, issuing regulations to ensure public acceptance of non-traditional unions,”But you don’t have to accept them, you only have to…wait for it…TOLERATE them.

  5. Thanks Tom,You are a good communicator. I appreciate your civil responses. Let’s say that the proposition 8 does not pass. What will change? One could argue that not much will be different since the law already gives same-sex couples to right to marry here in California.Now let’s say that a same-sex couple want to marry in the LDS Temple. One of the requirements to marry in the temple is a commitment to observe the law of chastity, which is that there are to be no sexual relations outside of marriage – between a husband and wife.What is to prevent a same-sex LDS couple from suing to ensure that their right to marry where they want – in an LDS temple – is not denied. Do we have the right to exclude them from this ceremony bases on their sexual orientation? Could they not argue that they would not be breaking the law of chastity because they would then be married?You may scoff and say that this will never happen but I am not so sure. We do not exclude gays and lesbians from our worship services even if they are in an active homosexual relationship, but they would then be excommunicated. What’s to prevent them from suing to enforce their right to be a full participant? For example, the partaking of the sacrament would be denied them. Can they sue to reverse this restriction?I may be way off-base here, but I am convinced that this civil right for same-sex couples to marry is going to cause some serious problems for a religion like ours that, yes, excludes individuals from full participation based not on their sexual orientation, but on their sexual behavior. We have many who identify themselves as homosexuals in our church. How long will it be before the church is sued for not allowing a committed homosexual couple to marry? Is a married homosexual couple considered husband and wife?Can you see now why we are opposed to redefining marriage? We feel it would be a mockery of the things we hold sacred – the union of a man and a woman in marriage in our holy temples – to be forced to allow a same-sex couple to marry there. They could claim complete abstinence of sexual relations before marriage and thus be considered worthy in all other aspects of the requirements. Their argument would be that sexual relations after marriage are, of course not prohibited between husband and wife in our church. Something to think about.

  6. Tim, your temple marriages are safe. Did anyone sue to marry when the church prohibited a black person from marrying there? Prior to 1979, when black men were restricted from holding the priesthood, they were, by consequence, denied the opportunity for temple marriage based solely on their skin color. If the church was able discriminate based on race, I think you can discriminate based on sexual orientation.

  7. I don’t know Tom, I just don’t know. You may be right. But who can say? Isn’t that what activism is all about – to enforce your way of thinking upon others? It seems that what was once thought highly unlikely no longer appears that way.And while it look to some people like discrimination to exclude people, we like to think of it as simply meeting revealed requirements. I also like to respond that all are invited to qualify. We do not feel that it was discrimination to exclude blacks from the priesthood. Was that exclusion based on revelation? I don’t know.However, the issue of exclusion or discrimination of homosexual people from certain parts of our church – the temple – is absolutely based on revelation. Of course, I mean that we exclude those who are openly participating in the gay lifestyle, and not those with same-sex attraction.I feel that you can’t compare our exclusion of blacks from the priesthood with exclusion of those who participate in homosexual behavior from our temples. Again, to be clear, anybody who meets the Lord’s revealed requirements is welcome in the temple, including those who struggle with same-sex attraction but do not participate in the homosexual lifestyle.But back to the subject of this essay – tolerance. Of course we can be tolerant of those who do not believe as we do. But we do not have to allow them to redefine marriage in our society, which is what has happened. We are not the only religious group that feels strongly opposed to same-sex marriage.Civil rights are granted by governments – people. We are part of the people of the state of California and are simply exercising our right to ensure that marriage is not redefined by activist judges who do not speak for us. That’s why it is so important to vote yes on proposition 8 to ensure that the definition of marriage remains the same as it was originally intended.

  8. LDS ‘Yes on 8’ Game PlanI’ve posted a letter sent from Boyd K. Packer on July 28th to the California LDS stake presidents:BKP July 28Apparently, there is a plan in place to put up one million ‘Yes on 8’ yard signs at 7:00 am on September 22nd.

  9. Sorry Chino,That’s not a letter from President Boyd K. Packer. You can start with the title. He would never sign a letter Brother Packer. The tone of the letter with the slang and poor grammar is another dead giveaway. Whoever put it on the Yes on 8 blog did not check the source carefully.Also, some of the comments on the forums and blogs where you post are bogus. They pretend to be a Public Affairs representative of the church. Truth is one of the first causalities of any campaign, at least from those who oppose proposition 8.

  10. That’s not a letter from President Boyd K. Packer.Yeah, I’ve been getting that all day (night) since I posted the letter.Oddly enough, all I’ve seen in response from the ‘Yes on 8’ side are assertions similar to yours. Maybe you could help me track down the provenance of this letter?If I’ve fallen for some treacherous online hoax, I’ll gladly eat crow in plain view for all to see.

  11. “I don’t know Tom, I just don’t know. You may be right. But who can say?”The courts can say. Look at case law — there are many instances where religious accommodations have been made. The church has tremendous freedom to run itself the way it sees fit. President Monson can establish pretty much any rules he wants about who can, and who can’t, be married in LDS temples or stake houses.It seems to me your fear is based on some vague, “anything could happen” anxiety, rather than on established law and precedent.And such a vague anxiety is no reason to deny important civil rights to a group of fellow Americans. Is it?”But we do not have to allow them to redefine marriage in our society, which is what has happened.”Actually, you do. That’s what the Supreme Court decision meant. Civil marriage is now an equal opportunity institution.”We are not the only religious group that feels strongly opposed to same-sex marriage.”And you all base your opposition to that not on rational thinking, but on superstition, legend and myth. Why should YOUR invisible superbeing’s opinion get to trump MY invisible superbeing’s opinion?”We are part of the people of the state of California and are simply exercising our right to ensure that marriage is not redefined by activist judges who do not speak for us.”Were they being “activist judges” when they ruled that it’s legal for families to homeschool? The definition of an “activist judge” seems to be “a judge who makes a ruling with which you disagree.” They are judges. They interpreted the law. You don’t like their intepretation, fine. Vote them out. Or wait for them to die. Or vote to amend the Constitution.Just don’t pretend you are being righteous while you are working to increase discrimination. It’s wrong, and deep down you know it.

  12. “Why should YOUR invisible superbeing’s opinion get to trump MY invisible superbeing’s opinion?”I just had to laugh at your reference to invisible superbeings. I guess it really comes down to that doesn’t it?Sorry, Tom, but I just don’t see it as discrimination. I see it as attempting to bring back what was originally intended by those who wrote the constitution of the State of California. I sincerely doubt that the idea of same-sex marriage even crossed their mind when they wrote the definitions for legal purposes. But a lot has changed since then, hasn’t it?As most of these dialogs on my blog have ended, I guess we’ll just have to wait for the outcome of the election on Nov 4th. Jerry Brown sure made it read different from what we intended, but I guess that’s one way to look at it. Let’s see if the people of the state of California agree.And thank you for the invitation to once again look deep into my soul to determine if I really felt that it was wrong to restore the definition of marriage by voting yes on proposition 8. No, I don’t feel it is wrong ask the people to vote to amend the constitution. You may call it discrimination but I call it protecting marriage.Cheers!

  13. But what are you protecting it from?”I sincerely doubt that the idea of same-sex marriage even crossed their mind when they wrote the definitions for legal purposes.”I doubt it. I also doubt they ever thought it would include marriage between individuals from two different races. What was in their minds was equality. As time has gone on, we have extended equality further and further — which is just as it should be.You have to remember, Tim, that what you see as “restoring tradition” as real impact on real families, families like mine. I have a 17-year old daughter who lives part time with me and my partner (soon to be husband) of ten years. Doesn’t she deserve to live in a household that enjoys the stabilizing benefits of marriage? If my partner died, shouldn’t she and I be able to benefit from Social Security benefits that would be extended to us if we were able to be married under federal law?Let me tell you a true story about the impact that comes from the lack of marriage equality.I had an uncle-in-law, the descendant of handcart pioneers, who was a gay man. He lived with his partner for 35+ years. They shared a home, paid their taxes, did lots of volunteer work and were deeply involved in the lives of their nieces and nephews (and were very popular with us!). They were committed to each other and to the rest of the family.They did all they could legally to formalize their relationship.However, when my uncle died of lung cancer, his surviving partner did not receive Social Security survivor benefits — as he would have if they’d been able to marry.In addition, he had to pay inheritance tax on the 50% of the house that my uncle had bequeathed to him. If your wife died, you would be able to inherit without this tax — simply because you have a civil marriage license.Finally, the property tax basis on the house was readjusted upward (significantly). Why? Because they couldn’t marry and the transfer of title was considered a change in ownership. Again, if they had been a married couple, the tax would have remained the same.These three things combined meant that my uncle’s partner could no longer afford to stay in the home they had shared for more than three decades.Does that seem fair to you? Or equitable?Keep your temple marriages, define them any way you like. (Don’t forget to tell people that they will be polygamous in nature in the Celestial Kingdom.) But why fight against CIVIL marriage equality? How will the fact that my partner and I have the same marriage license as you affect your marriage? Or anyone else’s?What you are doing deeply insults the idea of liberty and equality. It is un-American and un-Christian.

  14. Tom I very much appreciate you sharing your personal stories. I have also read more on your background. We have a lot in common in working with high tech companies and products over the years. I am impressed with your talent. Thank you for continuing to visit my blog and sharing intelligent and moving dialog about this difficult subject.The LDS Church does not object to civil rights for domestic partners already established in California regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights. You are probably already aware of those rights.California Assembly Bill 25 was passed in 2001 and extended the rights of domestic partners to include the right to make medical decisions, the right to inherit when a partner dies without a will, and the right to be appointed as administrator of estate.In 2003 Assembly Bill 205 was passed, basically extending all of the state-level rights and responsibilities of marriage to domestic partners.So although I am not certain of the status 0f federal Social security benefits that you mentioned, domestic partners in California already have all the same rights as married couples.I am certain that where civil inequities for domestic partnerships still remain they will be remedied in coming years.I suspect that federal rights will soon follow where they do not currently exist. In short, the civil rights you seek can be obtained without redefining traditional marriage.The majority of society and most states define marriage as between a man and a woman. Let’s keep it that way. Civil rights for same-sex couples can be fought for won through means other than by redefining marriage. That’s why I am voting yes on proposition 8.

  15. Ron Prentice Gets Rich Fighting Gay MarriageRon Prentice is CEO of the California Family Council and Chairman of, the committee behind Prop 8 (the folks working to ban gay marriage in California).Ron is set to be be honored at the Values Voter Summit 2008 (September 12-14) with Focus on the Family Action’s Family Champion Award.Justin McLachlan has broken a major story in the Proposition 8 battle: California Family Council contributions have mostly been spent on the generous salaries that Ron pays himself and his staff.So far, there’ve been about a dozen news and blog pieces that have appeared online referencing Justin’s research into Ron Prentice and his shady management of donor funds.Folks volunteering for and making contributions to the “Yes on 8? campaign should be aware that the operatives running the show have a track record of using contributions to generously reward themselves.

  16. To all who have posted above,I have not read all the threads – but what I did see was very civil and what I would expect from good, cultured and intelligent people.I read to the point where it was written that it was a stretch to imagine that the church could/would be sued to get us to change our stance on a moral point/stance on our view of how we define marriage. Without trying to open an entirely different can of worms, here I go (and I probably will not have the time check back to reply to any counterpoints):The LDS Church has already been put through untold legal suffering and financial damage due to a previous stance on marriage (as God defines it – a very real and sensiate Being who 90% of Americans happen to believe in some form or another). That damaging stance was plural marriage – defined and accepted in most cultures of the world except our own due to misinterpretation of scripture (most people say it was done away with when the Law of Moses was done away in Christ – but in their juvenile understanding of things forget that Abraham was around long before the Law of Moses existed and that the Catholics and Anabaptists all practiced it (limited) in modern Christianity).Back on topic, the church was driven into the wilderness and then subsequently had most of their assets seized and people were imprisoned because they would not bend to the national mindset of the day – one man one woman. As the mindset of “anything goes” (I wonder if bestiality and relations with little kids of any age is kind of the end stop of this current train…) becomes set in our nations “national psychie” and we (LDS and good Christians everywhere) then become on the outside again as we maintain our traditional value set, that our 501c status goes into jeopardy and then we lose our assets altogether and then comes the prison time as well as the title of “bigot” and “oppressor”, etc.This may sound strange, but I have been calling this exact scenario for decades now – ever since the whole “political correctness” movement began to hijack our national dialogue.For Tom – much like the television, no you cannot shut off the influence of an elementary school teacher who has the rapt attention of your child for 6-7 hours a day with no real responsibility to do the hard stuff of disciplining and teaching the kids values in the home (that we do as parents). I would either guess that there was a little naivete there on your part (no kids?) or your intention was other than what you presented (deception?).Anyway, no hard feelings (we are all brothers and sisters of a Just and Loving God) but we all will be responsible for every word and every act that proceeds out of our mouths – so we must act and speak with that in mind. I know that God lives. One day I will stand before him (and his Queen – our mother) and I will asked to give an account of how I have used what I have been given. As one endowed with great potential (among all of God’s great creations) I will be compared against all creations both great and small who have existed on this planet in perpetuity and who, through lesser laws, have taken the first great charge given to creation to multiply and replenish the earth. Where I have fallen short (even lower than more base creations – with less reasoning and naturally endowed intelligence and ability), I will be judged accordingly. Where I may struggle (but simply do not indulge) with attraction to members of the opposite sex, I will not be judged – only where I may stray mentally emotionally, or in the act. I live in an open/safe relationship with my wife who I can share my struggles with (and no – these are not serious struggles with members of the opposite sex). She shares any struggles that she may be having with me as well.In like manner, to those that DO struggle in those three areas with members of the same sex, the same exact methodologies apply. Struggle, pray and overcome them and be complete and whole and fill the measure of your creation that we all may be God’s children remembering that those that are “in the law” do not judge you (thankfully we do not possess those keys) but that we rather invite to join us in the struggle to overcome the flesh – rather than to succomb to our basest desires that do/would place us below our stature as intelligent and sensiate beings.I promise great happiness and fulfillment and joy in your relationships as you live the Law of Chastity. I promised an eternal increase of that joy if you do. If not, those that do not live the law and join the struggle against the flesh will be held back from a continuation of that promise (would we promise to pay our kids way through college if they first would not even to care to complete high school? NO!). So would our loving Father never indulge us in further blessings when we are stuck on a lesser principle with the attendant blessings.Know that I love all men and women as my brothers and sisters and care only for their salvation with me in God’s presence so please do not be offended by anything I have said.

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