But then he made the following two statements:
1. "the creative community has an obligation: to be intolerant of intolerance."
2. "In our community, tolerance of intolerance is unacceptable."
I understand the sentiment. And if I'm being honest, it is how I want to operate. I want to love the lovely, accept those who accept me, and befriend those who think along the same lines as me.
John Irving doesn't expound on what intolerance of intolerance looks like. Is it merely speaking out against anyone's ideas who don't match with his own values? Maybe. Or is it more along the lines of "hating the hater"? I don't know.
I have no doubt, Mr. Irving's intentions are honorable: defend the defenseless. Don't let those with power bully the weak. Don't allow hatred to win the day!
And again, while Mr. Irving's values likely differ from mine on a number of issues, the sentiment is very appealing to me.
But then the Apostle Paul comes along:
Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good. (Romans 12:21)
Paul, under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit, tells me I can't do shady business to beat an even shadier businessman. I can't spread malicious gossip to hurt a person who hurt me by spreading malicious gossip. In the same way, I can't beat intolerance with intolerance.
Worse still, Jesus comes along:
You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (Matthew 5:43-44 )
This is a higher form of love than romantic love. A higher form of love than friendship. A higher form of love than a family's love for each other. This is divine love! Unconditional! And sadly, utterly impossible for me or anyone else to actually achieve.
So, I ask for the help of Christ to do within me what I am not able to do myself. No one can love their enemies. No one can seek the good and betterment of people who who have hurt and abused us. It is divine love that accomplishes this. It is the sort of self-sacrificial love we saw in Christ.
I cannot settle for a lower form of love that only loves those who love me. I am trying to follow Jesus. And to follow Jesus, is to do what he did: sacrificially love our enemies.
Pray with me:
Maker of heaven and earth,
and of all things visible and invisible.
There are many people I do not like,
If I am being honest, I want their lives to be ruined.
I confess to you this is hatred.
Please forgive me.
Lord, Jesus Christ,
by whom all things were made:
Thank you for loving me when I was your enemy.
Teach me to walk in your ways.
Teach me to love in truth,
and seek the good for those who hate me.
God the Holy Spirit,
Lord and Giver of life,
change me heart.
May I not love merely with words or speech,
but with truth and action.
I ask all this in Jesus' Name.