The news has been filled all this week with the announcement by professional basketball player Jason Collins that he is gay. Here in Oklahoma City, the local paper quoted several athletes who expressed their opinion (4-30-13). One came from the Thunder’s Kevin Durant, a professing Christian. I like Kevin Durant. By all accounts he’s not only a superb basketball player but a fine human being. But I wish he had given more thought to his response to Collins’ declaration. He said: “If the guy’s happy, whatever he does, that’s cool with me. Nobody has any right to judge” (emphasis mine).
Actually, not only does everyone have a right to judge, everyone has a responsibility to judge! In fact, everyone does judge, even if they think they don’t. Making moral judgments is simply inevitable.
No one has made this clearer than have Francis Beckwith and Gregory Koukl in their excellent book, Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air (Baker, 1998). They provide us with a number of ways to respond to those who think our moral judgments about someone like Jason Collins are bigoted, hate-filled, and an expression of unwarranted intolerance and arrogant judgmentalism.
For example, how often have you had it said to you, or heard it said to someone else: “You shouldn’t force your morality on me.” The proper response is: “Why not?” After all, he is forcing his morality on you by insisting that you have no right to force your morality on him! He has a strong moral conviction, namely, that no one should force their morality on anyone else. But “he’s going to have a hard time explaining why you shouldn’t impose your views without imposing his morality on you. This forces him to state a moral rule while simultaneously denying that moral rules exist” (Beckwith/Koukl, 145).
If I had heard Mr. Durant say what he did, my immediate response would have been something like this:
“Kevin, you say that ‘no one has any right to judge.’”
“So you believe it is morally wrong for one person to judge the morality of another person?”
“Well, yeah, I suppose so.”
“So why aren’t you morally wrong for judging others for their moral judgments? Surely you wouldn’t want to argue that ‘no one has any right to judge’ except for you.”
This same principle can be applied to a number of scenarios (see Beckwith/Koukl, 145-48):
“You shouldn’t force your morality on me.”
“Because I don’t believe in forcing morality.” “If you don’t believe in it, then by all means, don’t do it. Especially don’t force that moral view of yours on me.”
“You shouldn’t push your morality on me.”
“I’m not entirely sure what you mean by that statement. Do you mean I have no right to an opinion?”
“You have a right to your opinion, but you have no right to force it on anyone.”
“Is that your opinion?”
“Yes, as a matter of fact, it is.”
“Then why are you forcing it on me?”
“Because you’re saying that only your view is right.”
“Am I wrong in saying that?”
“Is that your view?”
“Then you’re saying that only your view is right, which is the very thing you objected to me saying.”
“Don’t push your morality on me.”
“Why not? Don’t you believe in morality?”
“Sure, but I believe in my morality, not yours.”
“Well, then, how do you know what’s moral?”
“I think people should decide individually.”
“That’s exactly what I’m doing. And I’m deciding that you are immoral. Why do you have a problem with that? After all, live and let live is your value, not mine.”
“You shouldn’t push your morality on me.”
“Correct me if I’m misunderstanding you here, but it sounds to me like you’re telling me I’m wrong.”
“Well, you seem to be saying that my personal moral view shouldn’t apply to other people. But that sounds suspiciously like you are applying your moral view to me. Why are you forcing your morality [which says no one should push his/her morality on others] on me?”
“Who are you to say that abortion is wrong?”
“Who are you to say, ‘Who are you to say’?”
The point here is that “she’s challenging your right to correct another, yet she’s correcting you. Your response to her amounts to ‘Who are you to correct my correction, if correcting in itself is wrong?’ or ‘If I don’t have the right to challenge your view, then why do you have the right to challenge mine?’ Her objection is self-refuting; you’re just pointing it out” (Beckwith/Koukl, 146).
“You Christians bug me. You seem nice at first, but then you get judgmental.”
“What’s wrong with that?”
“What’s wrong with it is that it’s not right to judge other people.”
“Well, if it’s wrong to judge other people, why are you judging me by telling me I’m wrong for being judgmental?”
“O.K. How about this? It’s O.K. to judge people, as long as you don’t force your morality on them. That’s crossing the line.”
“May I ask you a question?”
“Is that your morality?”
“Then why are you pushing your morality on me?”
“This isn’t fair!” (with a sound of frustration in his voice!)
“Because I can’t find a way to say it so it sounds right.”
“But it doesn’t sound right because it isn’t right; it’s self-refuting.”
My aim here certainly hasn’t been to question Kevin Durant’s moral value system. In fact, I wish more men in the NBA were like him. I simply wanted to point out that many people make what amount to moral judgments about the morality of others making moral judgments, and never realize in doing so that they are indicting themselves. Their position is self-refuting.
The fact is, everyone should exercise his/her responsibility to make moral judgments about such matters as homosexual behavior. Only in this way can we dialogue meaningfully about the issues facing our country today. Only in this way can we analyze, compare, and contrast differing moral systems to determine which is more moral. Well, that’s my judgment anyway!