Tolerance isn’t acceptance

Anna Lang

I am a Christian, but this isn’t something I would always admit in the past. Sometimes I was ashamed to be a Christian and it wasn’t because I didn’t believe what I preach.

Anna Lang
Anna Lang

I was ashamed because of the Christians who openly judge and criticize and yell at people, telling them they are going to hell. I was ashamed because being Christian isn’t the “popular” thing in college, and many of my non-Christian acquaintances ridiculed my beliefs. They made Christians seem stupid and they joked about Jesus. They didn’t know I was a Christian, and I wasn’t about to share that information.

But hiding who I am was difficult for me, and something I shouldn’t feel obligated to do.

I didn’t truly believe in God until I worked at Cran-Hill Ranch, a Christian summer camp, after my freshman year. I met a group of people who were so devoted to their faith, yet outgoing, kind and loving. I saw God working through them.

College is supposed to be a place of acceptance, and while I’ve found a group of people who I feel safe around, I also feel like I’m fighting a battle because of what I believe.

I dated a guy who wasn’t a Christian, and he told me he didn’t agree with my beliefs. I was OK with this, until he started to tell me I was wrong and what I should believe. He expected me to be accepting of certain groups of people, which I am, yet he couldn’t even tolerate who I am.

Which seems hypocritical.

I encounter this attitude frequently, people who preach acceptance, but cannot tolerate that Christians and others will have different beliefs than them.

There is a difference between tolerance and acceptance.

Tolerance is putting up with something, without truly embracing it. True acceptance means loving everyone, despite their beliefs.

Acceptance that others will have different beliefs is ideal. We don’t have to accept these beliefs, just the people who have them. However, because all sides have been disrespectful, tolerance would be appreciated.

I will admit that Christians can have a bad reputation. Take the events of Tuesday, Sept. 2 and Wednesday, Sept. 3. Preacher Chris LePelley was on campus, yelling at students, calling girls whores and refusing to have rational conversations with students.

I’m not an expert on my faih, there is so much to know, but that is not how Christians should act. We shouldn’t judge, because we do not want to be judged by others.

There’s a lot more to it than this, but being a Christian is about living a life of love and for God.When Jesus walked the earth, he didn’t damn people to hell. He came not for the people who were saved, but for the people who didn’t know God.

So I’d like to offer words to two types of people.

The first type of person is the one who is afraid to voice their beliefs. If you are unsure of who you are, find yourself. College is a good place for that. I didn’t always believe in God. And if you’re ashamed for who you are, don’t be. To hide your true self is a draining process. People will judge no matter what. Let them.

To the second type of person, the person who judges others based on their beliefs. Not only the non-Christians, but the Christians as well. No one’s perfect and most of us have a past. So whatever you believe, try to withhold judgement. And while you may not accept the beliefs of others, at least try to accept that not everyone is going to have the same beliefs as you do.