Apologetics culture Ethics Rights Tolerance

You Have the Right to be Offended.

The problem with opinions is that they are like, well you know, and everyone has one. At least that’s the consensus.

Of course that’s not to say that the prevailing opinion is that people should not have opinions. Other than a few cultural fatal feelings like racism, most people still admit that everyone has a right to their own opinions, at least for now.

It’s not necessarily a person’s opinion that has become taboo. The culture seems to have adapted that idea to the 1st Amendment in a peculiar way.

The ultimate prohibition has become the expression of opinion. It is common to hear someone say people should keep their opinions to themselves. It is popular on social media to read posts that proclaim freedom from expression rather than of expression. Keep your opinion to yourself is the cry of the offended, and the culture comes to the rescue.

A better way to describe this cultural crime might be  freedom from being offended rather than freedom from expression though. To be sure, the grievance most people have with others free expression is that it may be offensive to them, not that an opinion is expressed-so their own characterization of the transgression is inaccurate. “People should keep their opinion to themselves” is only half of their assertion; the other half should read, “When I don’t like it”.

How can I say such a thing?

Well, I can make this judgment for two reasons really

1)People generally want to quiet other’s opinions when they are in disagreement with their own.

2)The very assertion that people should keep their opinions to themselves is in fact an opinion.

Now, to me the first reason is pretty obvious.

Do you ever hear anyone tell someone to keep their opinion to themselves when they’re receiving a complement or an “amen” or a like on Facebook?

Can you imagine someone saying, “your hair looks great” or “have you lost weight” and the other person saying “keep your opinion to yourself”?

Or wouldn’t it be absurd to read a Facebook post where the author chastises the readers by saying, “quit liking my status update”?

This never happens and the opinions of others are graciously received by everyone when they are complimentary or in agreement. So it’s obvious that it must be more than mere opinion that creates objections to the opines. 

More importantly though, is the fact that saying, “people should keep their opinion to themselves” is an opinion. Relativists simply do not practice what they preach[1].

It is a self-contradiction to tell someone they ought not give their opinion because to tell someone that you believe it is wrong to give an opinion is giving your opinion. To say such a thing is what is called logical suicide. It is a statement that when turned on itself, kills itself. It proves itself to be wrong.

For one cannot deny the existence or knowability of moral “oughts” in one breath and affirm an absolutist “ought” in the next breath; at least one cannot do this and remain consistent[2]

Obviously, most people who express the opinion that people shouldn’t express their opinions don’t realize the absurdity of their assertion. Sure enough, if they would’ve kept it to themselves they could’ve saved themselves some embarrassment. In the quietness of their mind they would’ve remained ignorantly blissful of their war with reason. The Law of Non-contradiction would merely be an annoyance to their logical process.

You see, people can claim ethics are relative, but when they get to an actual situation, they still make absolute statements about ethics. The concept of relativism is self-destructive[3]

But the very moment they vocalize or write or express in any way that anyone else should keep their opinion to themselves, they become a walking, talking, transgression of their own most overbearing opinion. They have created a logical prison, walked into a cell, and closed the door behind themselves.

I like to respond to these people with those quick retorts that are so effective…and fun. 

That’s your opinion is a zinger that comes to mind that points out the contradiction quickly. Or you can put the same statement in question form and simply ask, is that your opinion. Some less obvious but equally effective responses might be who says or even you tell them. If conversation is what you want, you might reply by fallaciously walking toward their comment by saying: I agree wholeheartedly or I think you’re right. It’s interesting where these responses often lead.

The point is this though; people have an absolute right to voice their opinions, no matter how we may not like them. Whether we disagree, can prove them wrong, or simply have our feelings hurt, other people have a prevailing or dominant right to say what they think. We have no right to be unoffended.

This truth should be proclaimed loudly and often-You have the right to be offended.




[1] Story, D. (1998). Christianity on the offense: responding to the beliefs and assumptions of spiritual seekers (p. 33). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.

[2] Moreland, J. P. (1987). Scaling the Secular City: A Defense of Christianity (p. 247). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

[3] Story, D. (1998). Christianity on the offense: responding to the beliefs and assumptions of spiritual seekers (p. 34). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.

I was born in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, born again at a very young age, married a beautiful and likeminded woman, moved to Tennessee, and raised two children in the Southern traditions of loving God and neighbor, exercising manners, and being stewards of the land and its bounty. After becoming involved in youth ministry in our local church, the need of teaching people "what they believe and why they believe it" became painfully apparent, especially in my immediate context (rural Southern churches). We began an apologetics/theology ministry there but have since moved on. After serving in church leadership and being called to faithfulness and duty to protect our congregation from a rogue pastor under church discipline of his previous church, my experiences in this biblical process shape much of what I believe about how churches in the South have become weak and why nominal Christianity is prevalent. I love the Church and Southern culture so you can expect to read about apologetics and theology as well as church and culture here, written southern style, by the grace of God. Deo Vindice

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