IntroductionAs a defender of the Christian worldview, I often defend the rightness or wrongness of certain acts, and with that, whether they should be made legal or illegal. I will usually appeal science and logic in these discussions. If the person is a Christian, then I will also appeal to the Bible, if it speaks specifically or general to the topic at hand. When it is clear that all the evidence stands against their view, in a "last-ditch" effort to undermine my arguments the challenger often resorts to appealing to "tolerance." This comes in the form of the person who wants to legalize some particular act saying that by not permitting the act (legalizing it), those in opposition to the legalization (conservatives, usually) are being intolerant and trying to force their morality on the world.
I recently finished reading the book "Legislating Morality: Is It Wise, Is It Legal, Is It Possible" by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek. Here is their response to such a challenge:
"When libertarians or liberals seek to give people more freedom (i.e., by passing a law that legalizes a formerly illegal activity), they do exactly what they condemn conservatives for doing. They impose their morals (and thereby the associated effects) on people who do not agree with those morals."
Who's Legislating Their Morality, Again?The problem with any law is that it affirms that something is right and its violation is wrong. Laws often include penalties for violating the right that has been provided by the law. What is right and what is wrong is morality. If we truly want to avoid legalizing morality then no law should ever be created. So, if someone is successful in getting their particular behavior legalized, they have just legalized their morality and have successfully forced it on the masses. This means that the complaint of the person trying to get their act to be made legal has just violated their own moral standard of "tolerance."
ConclusionThe next time that someone complains that you just want to force your morality on them, remind them that they are in the same position- they are, in fact, attempting to force their morality on you. Ask them to explain how their doing so is right and your doing so is wrong. This is not something that can be logically defended without affirming the right of the other to do the same. This results in a "stale-mate" and requires that both sides go back to the evidence. This will (hopefully) keep the discussion focused on actual reasons and not go down the "rabbit hole" is emotive rhetoric.
To Investigate Further, I recommend:
- How Should Christians Vote In Political Elections?
- Book Review: Legislating Morality: Is It Wise, Is It Legal, Is It Possible?
- Book Review: Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions
- Book Review: Relativism: Feet Planted In Mid-Air