The world is buzzing with political news about marriage, gender, love, and family. In my life, I have never seen the world so divided against each other and at the same time unwilling to see the others point of view. It’s heart-wrenching to see former friends unfollow the other, to see family members heated with frustration towards each other, and to see so much disunity.
Throughout it all, and on both sides, there’s talk of tolerance. There’s talk that love should win. There’s talk that LGBT lifestyles should not be supported. There’s talk that keeping two people apart because of religion is unchristian. Misunderstanding and anger abound.
My heart hurts. It hurts not only because of what I hear people saying to those around them, but hurt because I also feel misunderstood. I’m sure people on both sides feel this way. I believe all individuals want to agree and feel agreed with. As a result, this whole debate has left people feeling unaccepted by others, if they believe in same-sex marriage, or not.
In the end, the issue has hurt us all, in one way or another.
But, I think one thing needs to made clear. Love and tolerance are two separate things and can co-exist without disintegrating the other. Let me illustrate:
No, I do not support same-sex marriage. Yes, I know people who are LGBT. Yes, I love them. Yes, I want them to have a happy life. Yes, my religion plays a huge role in why I do not support it. Yes, I have read the bible and believe in a loving God. But, no, I’m not trying to keep people apart or make other people suffer.
Most importantly, I believe that I can love individuals and still think differently.
I believe that love and disagreement can exist together. I don’t believe that to love someone fully means you agree with all they agree with–meaning high love equals high tolerance. Nor do I believe that not agreeing with someone’s view point indicates a lack of love–meaning low love is equal to low tolerance. I believe you can love someone fully, accepting them for who they are, but still not agree with or condone their acts.
I can love and disagree, while still being respectful. So can you.
Dr. Alwi Shihab, the Presidential Advisor and Special Envoy to the Middle East taught out of the Quran when he said: “We must respect this God-given dignity in every human being, even in our enemies. For the goal of all human relations–whether they are religious, social, political, or economic–ought to be cooperation and mutual respect.” (Building Bridges to Harmony Through Understanding, Shihab)
I love that. Despite differences, we should probably stop ourselves before we speak or comment out of anger. Even if we don’t understand or value another person’s viewpoint, we can still seek to value them.
For example, I have family that embraces the LGBT lifestyle. I do not agree with their lifestyle, but I love them. We “like” and comment on each others pictures, we congratulate each other on important life events. We get together for family reunions and talk about things we both find interesting and play games we enjoy. I genuinely am grateful for them in my life. We choose to accentuate the things we agree on. We both know we don’t agree on religious or political issues, but we choose to love, see the good, and relate with each other about the things we do agree on.
We love while disagreeing.
Dallin H. Oaks, former Utah Supreme Court Justice, quoted Gordon B. Hinckley when he said: “We must work harder to build mutual respect, an attitude of forbearance, with tolerance one for another regardless of the doctrines and philosophies which we may espouse.” (Truth and Tolerance, Oaks)
This is all to say, I wish there was more love. Love that cares for people, while they believe differently than them. Love that holds onto their convictions, but still reaches out and finds similarities.
Love your friends if they disagree; love them if they agree. Love them if they accept your beliefs; love them if they don’t accept your beliefs.
You don’t have to lose your beliefs to love. You can love no matter what.