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Francis J. Beckwith and Gregory Koukl helps us see that when people say, “Don’t force your morality on me,” they are at that very moment, attempting to force their own morality on you. The excerpts come from Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air by Francis J. Beckwith and Gregory Koukl (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1998), 145-46.
When confronted with the line, “You shouldn’t force your morality on me,” simply ask, “Why not?” …
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. This same tactic is played out in the following short dialogues:
“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?”
“Then why are you forcing it on me?”
“But you’re saying that only your view is right.”
“Am I wrong?”
“Is that your view.”
“Then you’re saying only your view is right, which is the very thing you objected to me saying.”
“Don’t push your morality on me.”
“Why? 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 you’re immoral.”
“What’s the problem? 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 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 on me?”
Passionate adherents of the world’s major religions tend to be branded as intolerant on ethical issues; as if they were the only ones “pushing” our morality off on other people. The below conversation demonstrates that people who makes such accusations against religious people are liable for recrimination. The excerpt comes from Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air by Francis J. Beckwith and Gregory Koukl (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1998), 148-49.
Bill was a friendly, tolerant sort, willing to talk with me about Christianity until the question of homosexuality came up. My apparent lack of tolerance made him uncomfortable, and he said so. “That’s what bugs me about Christians,” he said. “You seem nice at first, but then you start getting judgmental.”
“What’s wrong with that?” I said. It was a leading question.
“It’s not right to judge other people.”
“If it’s wrong to judge people, Bill, then why are you judging me?” This question stopped him in his tracks. He’d been impaled on his own principle, and he knew it.
“You’re right,” he admitted. “I was judging you. Kind of hard to avoid it.” He paused a moment, scratched his head, and regrouped. “How about this? It’s okay to judge people, as long as you don’t force your morality on them,” he said, thinking he was on safer ground. “That’s when you cross the line.”
“Okay, Bill, can I ask you a question?”
“Is that your morality?”
“Then why are you pushing your morality on me?” Bill was getting stuck on Plantinga’s tar baby. He tried a couple more false starts but couldn’t extract himself. Finally in frustration he said, “This isn’t fair!”
“Why not?” I asked.
“I can’t find a way to say it so it sounds right.” He thought I was playing a word trick on him.
“Bill, it doesn’t sound right because it isn’t right; it’s self-refuting,” I explained.
At this point in the conversation some people throw up their hands and say, “Now you’ve got me confused.” In these cases I respond, “No, you were confused when you started. You just now realized it.”