Tolerance

(also see “Social pressure / superficiality”)

 

Pros of Mormonism from the perspective of the
Believer
Nonbeliever
Many believers find that the church’s teachings on tolerance help them to be better people who love and accept others. Church leaders and scriptures teach us that the greatest commandments are to love God and our neighbor, and we are taught that contention is of the devil.
Some nonbelievers will acknowledge that some of the teachings of the church promote love and tolerance. Church leaders and scriptures teach us that the greatest commandments are to love God and our neighbor, and we are taught that contention is of the devil.
 
Cons of Mormonism from the perspective of the
Believer
Nonbeliever
It is a common saying in Mormonism to “hate sin but love the sinner”. This leads to a difficult dynamic where we are commanded to love everyone but not to tolerate sin. The limits to tolerance are illustrated by the following quotes:
 
 President Kimball said: “Why do we continue to compromise with evil and why do we continue to tolerate sin?”
 
Elder Nelson said: “Tolerance, without limit, could lead to spineless permissiveness.”
 
President Packer: “Tolerance is a virtue, but like all virtues, when exaggerated, it transforms itself into a vice. We need to be careful of the “tolerance trap” so that we are not swallowed up in it.”
 
With these limits on tolerance in place, some believers find it difficult to put in practice the idea of hating sin but loving the sinner. Can the believer truly accept sinners as they are? When believers view another person’s lifestyle as being sinful, how does the believer manifest love, compassion, and acceptance towards the sinner? These are real questions that many believing Mormons struggle with. Nonetheless, many believers see great value in this principal, as the risk of offending someone is far outweighed by the benefit of bringing salvation to a repentant soul.
It is a common saying in Mormonism to “hate sin but love the sinner”. This leads to a difficult dynamic where we are commanded to love everyone but not to tolerate sin. The limits to tolerance are illustrated by the following quotes:
 
 President Kimball said: “Why do we continue to compromise with evil and why do we continue to tolerate sin?”
 
Elder Nelson said: “Tolerance, without limit, could lead to spineless permissiveness.”
 
President Packer: “Tolerance is a virtue, but like all virtues, when exaggerated, it transforms itself into a vice. We need to be careful of the “tolerance trap” so that we are not swallowed up in it.”
 
Many nonbelievers find this language to be contradictory and harmful in practice. One example of this is when the church refused to fall in the “tolerance trap” and pushed people to support Prop 8. Actively fighting to prevent people who love each other from getting married is the opposite of tolerance. And, because the effects of same-sex marriage are not obviously harmful to others, the act of fighting against gay marriage seems harmful to many people. Many nonbelievers will agree that we should not tolerate behavior that hurts others, which ironically means that we should not tolerate many of the doctrines and behaviors of the church. Many nonbelievers love the people in the church, but they cannot tolerate doctrines, teachings, and practices that directly harm others.

 

Comments relating to your lived experience with Mormonism are welcome. Although it can be difficult to distinguish at times, please focus on how the church helps and harms rather than it being true vs untrue.

  • highpriestinaspeedo

    It can be difficult for both believers and non-believers (anyone, really) to separate out who a person is from what they believe or do. People often don’t live up to the high standards they set for themselves and it’s hard to know when a person “screws up” if that’s who they are and what they believe, or if they had a moment of weakness. You mentioned Prop 8. There are many church members who “followed orders” without really understanding what they were doing. Once they came to the realization that what they did was harmful (often due to a close relative or friend coming out to them), they had a change of heart and regretted what they did. Thomas and Wendy Williams Montgomery are probably the most prominent example of this.

    Also, it’s important to remember that there is often a distinction between institutional beliefs and practices and those of individuals. While there are some who claim to walk in lockstep with all church doctrines and practices, in reality, every member is a “cafeteria Mormon” to some extent. No one can follow every directive because there are too many contradictions.

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