Effeminate Tolerance

January 2005By Michael L. Hearing

Michael L. Hearing is a freelance writer and editor living in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. This column originally appeared in a somewhat different form in the Eastern Oklahoma Catholic (Aug. 3, 2003), the official paper of the Diocese of Tulsa.

My convert friend who attends a state university passed along a bit of disturbing, but not really surprising, news. He recently finished up a course that dealt with modern virtues in film. Early on the professor asked the students to name and describe what they thought were virtues. So my friend, understandably, begins to tick off the cardinal and theological virtues. But the professor cuts in and says, "No, no, I don't mean that."

It seems the professor had in mind the modern "virtues" of tolerance, efficiency, and the like. Which, of course, are just attenuated pieces or pallid versions of the traditional virtues.

Tolerance is the highest and most sacred of all the modern virtues. We already have "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," an articulation of a robust, manly virtue. But now we have tolerance, a truncated and flaccid version of the older virtue. Tolerance can be cast this way: "Don't do unto others at all; just let them go their own way no matter what." Tolerance is only a part of the older virtue, the part that requires nothing of us. It is anemic -- and slightly effeminate.

Courage, or fortitude, is the cornerstone of the four cardinal virtues, and it is the element that seems to be missing in the modern "virtues." It takes courage to do what you ought to do and to say what you ought to say -- which, of course, implies action. Tolerance requires nothing. If it's a virtue at all, it's a passive one, a do-nothing virtue. Courage is a manly virtue because the masculine principle is active.

I can't seem to find much tolerance in the New Testament. What I do find is our Lord getting angry and knocking over tables and pigeon cages and driving people out of the temple. And I see Him calling folks broods of vipers and whitewashed tombs. I also find St. Peter arguing (not "dialoguing") with the Jerusalem contingent, and St. Paul falling out with colleagues over missionary tactics. But I don't see much tolerance.

You have two options:

  1. Online subscription: Subscribe now to New Oxford Review for access to all web content at AND the monthly print edition for as low as $38 per year.
  2. Single article purchase: Purchase this article for $1.95, for viewing and printing for 48 hours.

If you're already a subscriber log-in here.

Back to January 2005 Issue

Read our posting policy Add a comment
I believe it is right on target. At the start people might get annoyed as their priests become manly but I think in the end they would be happy. We know that women love manly men and I'm sure the Lord would be happy to see this change. Which are the thriving dioceses but the ones who have manly bishops. People love the truth. Posted by: vdwyer
May 24, 2006 09:09 AM EDT
Tolerance of what? Must we not first determine whether an act is MORALLY right or wrong relative to the person and society?

Sodomy is now deemed a "normal" sex act by the major media and our public institutions including public schools and all parties endorsement have been virtually blessed by the Supreme Court.

We have got our hands full if we only use intuitive intolerance, or quotes from the Bible. Our arguments must involve the criteria of whether an act is right or wrong i.e. matter of the act, its intent(end), its circumstances and consequences. Catechism 1749-1761

Sodomy -Anal Sex, is not unlike acts as Murder,Stealing,Fornication.Sodomy's end is personal sexual gratification. Sodomy's circumstances may entail willing partners but the Consequences can be Anal Cancer, HIV and Incontinence which are not good for the Sodomizers or Society in so many ways.

It takes courage to argue against "Sodomy which is behavior" and not an argument against man/woman (person).

These criteria of the moral rightness or wrongness presented in the Catechism helps form a knowledge base, that supplements the Courage to confront immoral BEHAVIOR.
Posted by: paulc37
May 24, 2006 11:53 AM EDT
Thanks guys! You're doing a great job at the NOR. Posted by: mlhearing
March 12, 2009 03:48 PM EDT
Add a comment