Acceptance and Judgement

“Anyone can love a thing because. That’s as easy as putting a penny in your pocket. But to love something despite. To know the flaws and love them too. That is rare and pure and perfect.”
– Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man’s Fear

It is a simple thing for most UUs to tolerate others; toleration is impersonal. It isn’t hard at all, as the quote says, to love someone because they do, say, or represent something positive. We Unitarian Universalists strive for slightly more; we strive to accept one another, and to encourage spiritual growth in our fellow congregants. That means getting to know their flaws and their shortcomings and loving them anyway. It means exposing our own weaknesses and admitting our ignorance to them, and allowing them to accept us in return.

We always get some flack when we talk about judging others on some level, as if that isn’t a UU thing to do; as if we can’t judge them and love them at the same time. That’s one of the hard parts of membership, though, that we ask you to do both. Unitarian Universalist Principles ask you to listen to another person’s plan for finding truth and meaning in the world, and helping them uncover those aspects which may be irresponsible in some way. We ask you to pay attention to each others lives and find ways to encourage growth in one another. In Unitarian Universalism, we ask you to make judgements, and to love each other in spite of what you find, knowing that we all have committed to building a beloved community together. We teach that the act of honestly loving someone changes both the person receiving and the person giving for the better.

The idea that we do not condemn people for their mistakes is foundational in liberal religion. The fact that we allow people a very wide latitude in building a meaningful and rewarding life is part of our covenant, and indeed the bylaws of the Unitarian Universalist Association. Accepting the person who shows up, each and every week, is an equally important part of the same Principle as encouragement to growth. That means that we do not ignore their flaws or their mistakes. It does not mean that we give up our responsibility to judge, so that we may counsel and encourage. It does not mean that we don’t screen RE instructors, nor that we leave the doors to an empty building unlocked. We judge, because we are acutely aware of the world we live in, but we love it all the same. We love the world anyway.

What makes us welcoming isn’t ignorance, but a commitment to love anyway.


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