I’m working on a full review of this great book by Greg Koukl, Tactics. Today I want to give another sample of his approach. This is again in view of the current discussions regarding same-sex marriage here in Australia, but believers elsewhere can benefit from this too. Koukl writes:
I have a friend who is a deeply committed Christian woman and whose boss is a lesbian. That in itself isn’t the problem. My friend has the maturity to know that you can’t expect non-Christians to live like Christians. The difficulty is that her boss wanted to know what my friend thought about homosexuality.
When someone asks for your personal views about a controversial issue, preface your remarks with a question that sets the stage — in your favor — for your response. Say, “You know, this is actually a very personal question you’re asking. I don’t mind answering, but before I do, I want to know if it’s safe to offer my views. So let me ask you a question: Do you consider yourself a tolerant person or an intolerant person on issues like this? Is it safe to give my opinion, or are you going to judge me for my point of view? Do you respect diverse points of view, or do you condemn others for convictions that differ from your own?” Now when you give your point of view, it’s going to be very difficult for anyone to call you intolerant or judgmental without looking guilty, too.
This line of questioning trades on an important bit of knowledge: there is no neutral ground when it comes to the tolerance question. Everybody has a point of view she thinks is right, and everybody passes judgment at some point or another. The Christian gets pigeon-holed as the judgmental one, but everyone else is judging too, even people who consider themselves relativists. (Tactics, 77-78).
Koukl’s approach exposes the truth: calling Christians who have biblical convictions about homosexuality judgmental or intolerant (aside from the question of how they might express those convictions) is actually a form of personal attack — also known as ad hominem. The approach described above helps to defuse that fallacy and make room for a Christian to humbly, yet boldly, speak the truth.