Perhaps no one is in a better position to challenge the reductive notion of love being mere “tolerance” than someone who has experienced “detransitioning.” At our most recent Lighthouse Voices event, a collaboration of Focus on the Family and the Colson Center, Laura Perry Smalts addressed the leading idea that, in the name of tolerance, Christians should use a person’s preferred pronouns, should only say and do what will never offend, and should be superficially sensitive.

The temptation to reduce love to only those actions and words that steer clear of offense is, like all lies, rooted in a half truth. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul describes love as “patient and kind,” “not arrogant or rude,” and “not irritable or resentful.” He also exhorts, “(i)f possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

And yet, while love isn’t less than being kind and peaceable, it is more. Love requires that we tell the truth. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul also tells us that love does not “insist on its own way,” but on God’s way. And, most clearly, Paul states that love “does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.”

In fact, once the foundations of truth and morality are brought into the equation, it becomes clear that the constant pressure to be tolerant today (which, as many have pointed out, is ironically intolerant) is a pressure to conform to the world, something Paul also warns against.

Laura Perry-Smalts knows the real-life costs incurred when those who claim to love refuse to tell the truth. In fact, at the Lighthouse Voices event, she told how medical professionals and counselors and friends chose to affirm a lie rather than tell the truth. She described what that cost her, and now she knows the real-life costs of speaking the truth about identity in a world that doesn’t want to hear it.

And too often we are so quick to tell people what they want to hear because we don’t want to hurt people’s feelings. But if we’re really honest, it’s because we don’t want them to say bad things about us. The Lord told me one time as I was praying. …The Lord said, there’s an idolatry in the Church of wanting to be loved by the world, of wanting the world to say that’s the most loving church, that is the most loving Christian I know…. 

And some people will say that. And of course we want to speak truth in love always, but… one of the enemy’s number one tactics is to make us feel like we’re hateful Christians, like we’re not being loving enough. But Jesus said that we would be hated. In fact, He said, Woe to you when all men speak well of you…. 

He said, If they reject my message, they’re going to reject yours. Jesus said many people walk away from Him, but we don’t know how many of those came back. We know that many times the seeds take time to grow. And I’ve had people come and reject me initially and come back later and thank me for what I said.

Laura is right. We are not only commanded to love our neighbor, but first we are commanded to love God. St. Augustine talked about the importance of properly ordered loves. If we try to love our neighbors first, before loving God, we won’t successfully love either. In our efforts to love our neighbors, Christians must first love God. We know what love is because He first loved us, sending Jesus to rescue us from our self-imposed delusions, lies, and rebellions. We must never become so concerned with pleasing our neighbors that we fail to love Christ.

True love is, ultimately, rooted in Christ, who loved us too much to affirm our sin, rebellion, and brokenness. His love is both the example and the source of the love the world needs most right now, the kind which “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

This Breakpoint was co-authored by Jared Hayden. If you’re a fan of Breakpoint, leave a review on your favorite podcast app. For more resources to live like a Christian in this cultural moment, go to

Image credit: ©Unsplash/faithgiant

John Stonestreet is President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and radio host of BreakPoint, a daily national radio program providing thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of CrosswalkHeadlines.

BreakPoint is a program of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. BreakPoint commentaries offer incisive content people can't find anywhere else; content that cuts through the fog of relativism and the news cycle with truth and compassion. Founded by Chuck Colson (1931 – 2012) in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends. Today, you can get it in written and a variety of audio formats: on the web, the radio, or your favorite podcast app on the go.