Christianity, Unconditional Love, and Absolute Tolerance

I have been stuck in recent years about how there seems to be what I would say is a misunderstanding about Christianity in the general public.  This misunderstanding is that Christianity is all about complete tolerance of any behavior.  The argument might go something like this:

P1 – Christianity teaches unconditional love.
P2 –  To love unconditionally means you must be absolutely tolerant of all behaviors
C1 –  Christianity must treat all behaviors as perfectly acceptable.

For me, the disagreement comes with P2.  It is of course possible to love someone, in spite of their sinful behavior.  This is another way of stating the familiar ‘hating the sin yet loving the sinner’.  In this circumstance, I think it is important to keep in mind that love comes in many forms, and that at times loving the sinner may require speaking out against the sin.

Did Christ really teach a gospel that required followers to always show absolute tolerance in a way that demanded treating all behaviors as perfectly acceptable?  I would say the answer to this is a firm no.

Please feel free to share you thoughts on the above.  I am planning to go through one of the gospels, probably Matthew, to review Christ’s teachings and how they relate to claims of teaching absolute tolerance of any behavior.  Or put another way, did Christ teach an ‘Anything Goes‘ gospel.

7 Responses to “Christianity, Unconditional Love, and Absolute Tolerance”

  1. 1 Sean July 11, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    Completely agree. If Christ taught an “anything goes” gospel, what principles are there to teach at all, and what foundation is there left to stand on?

  2. 2 Eric Nielson July 11, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    Sean, from what I have observed, the only principle this crowd would want is love (which can cover a lot of bases in fairness). But the most importance general form of love would be complete tolerance.

    Again, in fairness this could point to the two great commandments, but there does not seem to be much desire to unpack these very much. Our love of God includes keeping his commandments, and teaching others to do the same.

  3. 3 IDIAT July 11, 2015 at 10:13 pm

    I once read some material by a marriage counselor that pooh poohed the notion of unconditional love in marriage. He gave practical examples of why there is no such thing, and that trying to have it is an impossible expectation that is ruining relationships. If unconditional love meant absolute tolerance Christ would have never rebuked any one.

  4. 4 Eric Nielson July 12, 2015 at 6:05 am

    Thanks IDIAT, I think expecting unconditional love and expecting absolute tolerance are very similar things. They seem rooted in the refusal to change, which is at odds with the gospel of repentance.

  5. 5 Glenn Thigpen July 12, 2015 at 10:06 am

    Unconditional love does not require unconditional acceptance, if one follows God’s example. If we believe that God loves all of His children unconditionally, yet “cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance” (Alma 45:16) then it is obvious that unconditional love does not mean unconditional tolerance.

    I think that way too many people are trying to make God over in their own image.


  6. 6 Eric Nielson July 12, 2015 at 5:22 pm

    That is what I see as well Glenn.

  1. 1 Christianity, Unconditional Love, and Absolute Tolerance: Matt. 3 | Small and Simple Trackback on July 12, 2015 at 9:28 am

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