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Homosexuality, the NBA, and the Morality of Making Moral Judgments


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.’”

“That’s correct.”

“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.”

“Why not?”

“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.”

Or again,

“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.”

Or again,

“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.”

Or again,

“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.”

“You are.”

“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?”

Or again,

“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).

Or again,

“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!)

“Why not?”

“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!


If you are going to argue for "the marketplace of ideas", you need to be savvy in your reasoning. First, your view of tolerance is horrendously inconsistent; but even worse, it's logically incoherent. Any healthy discourse presupposes that you have to disagree with a position before you can tolerate it. Taking the opinion "that all positions are correct, except for the opinion that disagrees with this definition," proves to be even less tolerant.
Second, I am curious on what moral grounds do you find the Christian position on homosexuality to be hateful? Cultural mandates? Where does the line get drawn on sexuality? If you want to have a real discussion on this ONE issue, let's not succumb to reductionism and appeal to every social injustice from the past 200 years- they are not all alike. Let's deal with the issue at hand. How would your "morality of love" deal with the broader implications of boundless sexuality? See even with the pejorative distinction you made between your "morality of love" and Christians' "morality of hate," you are invoking a presupposed notion of right and wrong, yet you are denying the notion that a fixed ethical standard even exists with your framework of tolerance. It's logically fallacious.

Joe, I'm so sorry. I moderate the comments for Sam's blog, and I assure you that there was no censorship involved. I just fell behind and failed to work through my e-mail and approve any of the comments from yesterday or earlier today. My fault! Your thoughts are welcome.

Loved this post. I really enjoy the truth presented here. Thank you for writing. yahwensgentile.com

I was once told that in the marketplace if ideas Christianity can more than hold its own. But you, Sam Storm - or whoever is moderating the comments to this blog posting - is proving that it cannot. And you are doing that by failing to post my last comment.

You may be able to get away with this kind of shenanigans where you can control what is said, but what are you - or those whom you teach and lead - going to do in an actual public square when you are asked the hard questions? But you won’t ever get into that kind of situation because I think you know, deep down, that xtianity cannot withstand scrutiny and will never put yourself it that position.

And make no mistake about it xtianity is going to be vigorously dehated, vigorously slammed in the coming days. If your conduct is any indication the faith will shatter and the sheep will scatter.

I apologize for asking tough questions.

Shells, I think that when you xtians condemn homosexuality it comes across as hate, no matter how “lovingly” you try to protray it. See this articles by CNN http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/05/when-christians-become-a-hated-minority/?hpt=hp_c1 --- You xtians are now the hated minority. A generation ago it was the gays that were outcasts, condemned, hated, told to “change” and you will be accepted. But now the shoe is on the other foot! Change your view - it is a choice, xtians -- and you will no longer be outcasts, condemned, and hated.

Oh, but xtianas will say, “we can’t change, it is gods word and will!” However only a few years ago a woman could not preach in church according to “god’s will and word”, but that was CHANGED. Also years ago slavery was justified through the Bible - aka according to god’s will and word, but that was CHANGED. Further many churches used to condemn those who got divorced but that was CHANGED and now they are accepted.

Face the facts xtains, in a few short years most of you will be embracing gays as full true blue christians. You will have gay pastors teaching you “god’s will and way” as you sit in the pew thanking god that you came to see gays as normal. Those who don’t will be increasingly marginalized, outcasts, condemned, and hated. you may believe what you want but you won’t speak it out of fear of losing your job, your home, no one will rent to you, sell to you or buy from you. you will not, can not withstand this tsunami wave of a cultural shift that is upon you.

Hey Joe! I can tell you are really struggling with this issue. For the record, it's not my job as a Christian to convince anyone of anything! It is my job to lovingly address issues that are close to Father's heart, for the purpose of bringing eternal freedom to all who would hear and embrace the "Good News". That may sound churchy to you - but it's the truth. Sometimes we Christians don't do a good job of lovingly addressing GOD'S issues, but we try because we know in the end it isn't what I think or you think that matters. God's will will be done whether we ever agree or not!

Xtians it is like this: You are now living in a post xtain america, a post xtian world. Your narrow view - narrow because 1) most people in the world disagree with you and 2) not all xtians share your view of gays - is seen as hateful since you want to deny gays the right marry the persons that they want. Every other consenting adult has that right but according to you they should not. And that is simply due to your particular religious viewpoint. But as I said it is a post xtian world and I think you’ll have a tough time having most people see your view as anything other than hateful.

Now you say it is not hateful to have your view. Now IF god exists, and IF the bible can be trusted to not have been messed with, and IF god really said that homosexuality is a sin, and then maybe your view is not hateful. But you have a long road ahead of you to convince people of all of that. And I must say that most xtian I come into contact with come down to two views: It is either acceptance of gay-ness as a valid xtian option or rejection and condemnation. Most of you, if not all, fall into the latter group though you try to soften the blow with the “hate the sin but love the sinner” concept wrapped around the hammer that you use. I do not know why none of you can see that your view is at least SEEN as hateful since you are hell bent to deny someone their rights.

I guess it is the hypocrisy that makes me blanch when xtains like you speak on this subject. For instance, how much sin goes on in your home or church that you just let slide? Be honest - it’s a xtian virtue. I’ve been to your churches. I’ve seen the sins that you say you hate be embraced or been dealt with in a nonchalant manner.

And also only recently have xtians tried to embrace gays and say that they love them. Only since the rest of society has embraced them has the xtains followed, saying “we’ve always loved you guys” - which is bull, and most see through that. They know you haven't. only when non-xtian society embraced gay did the xtians do the same.

Just to throw my 2 cents in the responses. Sam is spot on in his assessment, and he has graciously clarified a very nuanced philosophical position, so that people from all walks of life can comprehend what is being argued. I would recommend D.A. Carson's The Intolerance of Tolerance for a lengthier treatment of this issue.

In regards to "Joe"- sadly, he seems very angry and I don't think any counterpoint whether savvy or not will do anything to help bring this conversation to a close. As people continue to argue with him, he will continue to sputter out ad hominem nonsense all the while becoming ever increasingly vitriolic in his responses.

Joe, (or really anyone that can answer this that holds this view)- you seem to contend that being gay is fundamentally the same as being black or being Jewish, in regards to the individual not having a choice in the matter. Can you point to any studies/evidence that suggests homosexuality is genetic? Your whole point/argument is based on that assumption. With such strong convictions, you must have compelling evidence/logic/reason to support your assumption. I would like to read some on it, if you would kindly post a link or two. thanks.

Joe, I wanted to add: Please look back over your comments on this thread. Every single one makes judgments. Every one. So you simply *cannot* say that judging is wrong; you realize that that's a judgment, right? Just like the article says.

First off I think that a lot of Christians have made blanketed statements about homosexuals (similar to the blanketed statements you are making about Christians) which comes across as hateful. Yes, Christians view homosexuality as sinful. But we also recognize that every Christian sins every day. We are all a fallen people. The true Christian response is not to say that we are better than you because we sin differently than you. It is to recognize that all sin separates us from God and we all desperately need the grace that God offers... homosexuals, fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, thieves, etc, etc. We all fall into many of those categories whether we would like to admit it or not.

Secondly, you compare someone's sexuality to someone's ethnicity. I don't think this is a fair comparison. Someone has no control over whether they are born white, black, asian, hispanic, etc. However, homosexuality is an act, not a physical trait; therefore, you do have control over it. You may say that being attracted to the same sex is something that someone is born with and you cannot change. I cannot say whether homosexuality is the way someone is born or not. But I can say this, humans have many "natural" desires to commit sins. The thief has a "natural" desire to take stuff that isn't his. The pedophile has a "natural" attraction to children. And so on. Just because something feels natural, or it's "the way you were born" doesn't make it right.

Overall, I think that a true Christian recognizes that everyone, including homosexuals, are sinners and we need to join together in repenting, serving God, and thanking God that his grace covers us.

Joe, how do you know Phelps is my brother in the Christian faith? If Dr. Oz makes a claim on his show does he speak for all Doctors? Christians have disagreements of doctrine like everyone else. If a liberal pastor said homosexuality is a sin I would not support his church.
Do gay rights activists have disagreements on what actions to take? Or do they agree on every single thing?

Joe: I am sorry that you have witnessed Christians spew hate towards anyone, no matter their sexual orientation. That should never be the case. As a Christian, no matter what sin I see people struggling with, it doesn't give me or any other Christian the right to hate that person. But I do think the main issue is a matter of what people consider sinful and therefore moral or immoral. And if neither person is allowed the opportunity to have an opinion and not be considered hateful or a bigot, then tolerance, respect and the maturity to simply agree to disagree will be impossible. It's sad that when a Christian expresses that they think someone's lifestyle is immoral, people's response is no longer "they have their right to their opinion" but "he is a bigot" or "he is hateful". Which in doing so makes anyone who thinks like that just as a bigot against Christians.
On a different note, I do believe (correct me if I'm wrong) that a man or women with homosexual inclinations can freely choose to never sleep with or be in a relationship with someone of the same sex; to never act on their inclinations. They could then technically say that they are a heterosexual who is fighting same sex attraction. A black man can never freely choose to not be a black man. A Jew can never freely choose to not be a Jew. I could never freely choose to not be hispanic.
You wouldn't say that someone who has strong desires to murder or to steal can not help it anymore then a black man can help being black (maybe because to you these things are immoral unlike homosexuality). Yet you may feel that a homosexual has no reason to not act on his desires; and you are entitled to your opinion. But you cannot equate desires with ethnicity, race and anything else that is ingrained in a person before they are born. It's not the same not matter how much it is trying to be portrayed as the same.

Keith - Quote "on what basis do you determine what's "loving" and what's "hating"? What is the standard that determines love and hate?"

If ones behavior is causing distress, suicide, affliction, misery, and etc upon another just because of something they have no control over then that is hateful, then that is hateful. And I think it is helpful to remember that xtians have not "loved" gays until very recently. only since they figured out that the tide had turned and the public had become more accepting of gays did the xtians follow.

Conversely, where do xtains get their morality? A book. A 2,000 year old book. A book most do not read and less understand.

John S - I think you should Google "animals displaying homosexual behavior" before you say that homosexuality in not normal or natural.

Hey Joe 2 questions:

Is homosexuality natural or normal?

You defend homosexuality on the basis it is inborn (like blackness or Jewishness). Jerry Sandusky had an inborn sexual desire as well, he was a pedophile. He did not choose that orientation it chose him, therefore explain how it can be wrong?

Joe, for a guy talking a lot about how Christians "hate", you're sure spewing a lot of it out here. Is irony lost on you? Re-read the article -- the arguments you're making have been answered in it.

Thanks for some practical tips on how to respond to those types of "intollerance comments". It's too bad that people can't seem to accept that the creator of the universe had a RIGHT to decide how He wanted HIS universe to run. He knew what would hurt us and He let us know from the beginning what He expects - and it was based in HIS love for us. I wish people knew that when we say homosexuality is a sin, or killing is a sin, etc. - it's not me hating anyone. It's my desire for ALL to know freedom even when it's hard or costly. I don't hate ANYONE because they CHOOSE to live a homosexual lifestyle. I AM concerned about the loss of respect for Father's hearts toward us that would compel us to excuse the difficulties in ALL of our lives just so we can be comfortable with our own particular bent to whatever sin it is (lying, pornography, addictions, etc.) WE ALL STRUGGLE WITH SIN ISSUES!!! On a personal note, I have a friend who struggles with homosexuality, and with MUCH pain and struggle has found peace CHOOSING not to PRACTICE the homosexual lifestyle. I APPLAUD him!!

Aaron - "Who are you to decide that saying homosexuality is wrong is hateful?
I’m the guy who has seen xtians spew their hate via words and actions towards gay people. What you do not seem to understand is that when you say to a gay person, “I hate your gayness, but I love you” that is like telling a black person “I hate your blackness, but I love you”. Or telling a Jew “I hate your Jew-ness, but I love you” Just like you cannot carve out someones black-ness or Jew-ness you cannot carve out someones’ gayness .

Muffin Man - Re the KKK: Just as they hate those for what they cannot control so do xtians. Further you must know that only some xtians think being gay is a “sin”. There are gay christian ans gay christian churches . If you cannot even convince your fellow xtians what is a sin and what is not why try to force your very narrow belief down the throats of everyone else, including non-xtians. I think it would behoove you to get with all your fellow xtians and hammer out what is a sin and then come and try to fix the world. But I think, if you were honest you should start with clearing out all the sin in the xtian church first. Unless you want me to believe the the church and its members are sinless. Which I don’t believe.

Quote: “The Christian does not hate anyone...” Have you ever listened to your brother in the faith Rev Fred Phelps?

Brian - quote "You can argue that it's misinformed, but you can't argue it's hateful, because the agent is acting with what he perceives as the best interest of the homosexual in mind”

Yeah, I’m sure that was the reasoning behind trying to keep women from voting - those weak-mind women folk just can’t handle a task such as that. or the Jim Crow laws were for the protection of the blacks. Don’t tell me that you are looking at the “best interest” of gays as you try to deny them their rights. And can you not see that it is a slap in the face to tell somebody that you “love” them as you deny them their rights.

Joe, you can't pin suicides due to bullying from homosexuality on Christians or on Christian preaching as a whole; blanket statements accomplish nothing. Secondly, I think I can speak for Christians when I say "hate the sin, love the sinner".

Thank you for speaking the truth


Why won't you be loving to conservative Christians and say to them, "if you're happy, whatever you do, that's cool with me. Nobody has any right to judge" when they make statements against homosexuality? Right now, it seems like you are saying conservative Christian statements against homosexuality are "wrong or immoral" which would be "hateful" of you towards conservative Christians.

And God hates sin. The opposite of love isn't hate, it's apathy.

Joe, I would add here: on what basis do you determine what's "loving" and what's "hating"? What is the standard that determines love and hate? If it's your own standard, then you cannot take exception to me, for example, having a different standard. If your standard is "society sets its own standards," then what about pre-Civil War society, which held that slavery was OK? Was slavery acceptable, because that society said so? So again, the question is, by what standard or measure do you determine loving actions vs. hating actions?

Sam - you're a little easy on Durant. He drops more F bombs in a game than a Quentin Tarantino movie, and he led the league in technical fouls this year. He's no Christian athlete role model, that's for sure.

Same with 'you can't legislate morality'. Isn't every law exactly that, legislated morality?

With homosexuality it's a self evident truth that it is unnatural and not normal. Some may need a drawing, or a Kintergarden Cop moment, but nature is clear it's not designed (God or ID) or Evolved (naturalist Darwinist) - take your pick - for same sex to go together. Why must we affirm as good what is not natural or normal? There may be a component of morality, but doesn't an appeal to the natural order of things even transcend morality? I like the article, I've heard it similarly explained using 'tolerance' in place of morality. It is logicially sound but I really can't see why the natural objection has been completely abandoned, in my small amount of interactions.

Um....OK....So what?

I don't really see any point to having wasted time, pixels and space writing this blog article.

Joe, . . . No it's not.

You can disagree with me, which would be your opinion. But, to continue the metaphor:
"Who are you to decide that saying homosexuality is wrong is hateful?".

You can argue that it's misinformed, but you can't argue it's hateful, because the agent is acting with what he perceives as the best interest of the homosexual in mind. There's a big difference between "you disgust me and I wish you would die" and "the Lord of the universe says that unrepentant sin leads to death. He also says that what you're doing is sin. I want to see you repent because I love you and don't want you to face eternal, spiritual death.

Joe, you bring up KKK and their views on blacks which is a totally different issue. The actually hate those people for what they can not control. The Christian does not hate anyone, including someone who practices homosexuality. They hate the sin. I think you can see a difference there. You disagree that homosexuality is a sin. That is the issue. I don't think you hate Christians just because you disagree with our view of homosexuality. In the same light, I don't see why you think Christians hate people who practice homosexuality just because we call what they practice a sin.

steve, do you know how many kids kill themselves because of the "love" that you extend to them?

Quote - “so you know for certain that when someone calls an act a sin that they are being hateful?”

You are begging the question. That makes for very odd logic.

Question: Can morality be morality if it is hateful? Or would that be called immorality?

Answer: Are the KKK thoughts on blacks immoral or moral? Most would conclude they are immoral. So are the Xtian thoughts on gays immoral or moral? Same conclusion.

Question: Is it "loving" to judge someone's morality as hateful?

Answer: If it is hateful, then speak honestly and directly. Exposing this kind of hate will make those who hold it scurry away like cockroaches when the lights come on.

Joe, you just made a judgement as to what types of statements are loving and hateful. Maybe it is loving for me to state that homosexuality is wrong or sinful out of Love of trying to save the person who is committing the act.

Joe, so you know for certain that when someone calls an act a sin that they are being hateful? That makes for very odd logic. So you would like to differentiate between a morality that is loving and a morality that is hateful. Question: Can morality be morality if it is hateful? Or would that be called immorality? Also, you've just made a judgment on someone's morality. Is it "loving" to judge someone's morality as hateful?

There is a difference between a morality of love and a morality of hate. So "if the guy’s happy, whatever he does, that’s cool with me. Nobody has any right to judge" is a loving statement. Saying that homosexuality is wrong or immoral is hateful.

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