Blessings to you, the readers of this page, in Jesus Christ our Lord. May He guide you and protect you always.

Keywords: tolerance approval human relationships

The Difference Between Tolerance And Approval
We Can Tolerate Many Behaviors We Do Not Approve Of

By Rev. Bill McGinnis, Pastor -
Director - Internet Church Of Christ -

In our culture today, there are certain controversial actions which we may be able to tolerate but may never fully approve of. Among these controversial actions are: unrestricted sex among consenting adults, including homosexual acts, adultery, and prostitution; abortion; same-sex civil unions and/or marriage; and rights to die, including suicide and mercy killing.

Without going into the merits of these issues at this time, we can nevertheless recognize the important differences between Tolerance and Approval.

"Tolerance" is allowing something to exist without actively opposing it, even though we do not like it very much and we do not think it is a good thing. "Approval" is helping something to exist because we do like it and we do think it is a good thing.

Thus it is easier for us to tolerate something than it is to approve of it. (Please see our conceptual model for this idea at

Here are two easy examples from everyday life, which illustrate the difference between Tolerance and Approval.

We tolerate babies crying in public, because it is in their nature to cry sometimes, and what can we really do to stop it? But we do not approve of babies crying in public. Their mothers should try to keep them as quiet as possible, so as not to annoy other people and not to interfere with other people's rights of "quiet enjoyment."

Traffic police frequently tolerate driving speeds of five or ten miles per hour above the posted limits on major highways. They cannot actually approve of driving faster than the speed limits, because they are required to enforce the law, and the law sets the speed limits. But they can simply not enforce the minor infractions.

To love other people, we must sometimes tolerate some of their behaviors which we cannot approve of.

In these cases, it it may be helpful to give them the benefit of these three time-tested excuses . . .

"Maybe they can't help it." or

"Maybe they have their own good reasons for being that way." or

"Maybe they don't realize what they are doing."

In other words, give them a good excuse for doing whatever it is that you do not approve of, but need to tolerate.

If you will do these things, you will be well on your way to developing your love for others, as well as increasing your own personal enjoyment in your life.



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Blessings to you. May God help us all.

       Rev. Bill McGinnis, Director -

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