That’s a really good question! I recently mulled this over in response to some sensitive and contentious situations. One definition I found describes tolerance as “a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, beliefs, practices, racial or ethnic origins, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.”
I would begin by stating that this answer depends on how you look at it. Take the woman caught in adultery, for instance. Jesus didn’t advocate for her stoning. He simply said “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Then He waited until everyone had left, but then told her to go and sin no more. I would say He was compassionate, merciful, and He loved her. But He does not tolerate sin!
Some controversial topics have come up with our friends lately, one of them concerning the gay lifestyle. If Jesus were here, He would say the same thing to that group of people: “Go and sin no more.” We can (and should) love the sinner as one of God’s children but hate the sin.
So to answer the question about whether Jesus was tolerant based on the definition of tolerance above: Jesus was fair and objective, but not permissive.
Please share your thoughts about whether you think Jesus was tolerant and why or why not.
Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams