Having an opinion is a good thing. Some people want you to believe it’s not, but that’s just their opinion. The way I see it there are really two types of opinions, those that are a personal preference or matter of taste, and those that require some backing. We all deal with the first ones every day. Favorite foods, sports teams, and movies are all prime examples. These are things that depend on where and when you grew up, what you’ve been exposed to, and who has helped shape your feelings on these topics. For instance my wife thinks mushrooms taste delicious. I think fungus is best left for scientists in a lab somewhere. We have different opinions, and that seems to be ok with everyone.
But when it comes to the second type of opinions – those that require some backing – some people suddenly seem to be a lot less tolerant of differing opinions. I find this strange and incongruent. It is still an opinion is it not? Granted, these topics are about more important topics such as morals, politics and worldviews, but it is still about how a person interprets the facts. You and I cannot change how someone feels about or interprets those facts. We can express our beliefs and their accompanying reasons, but I cannot choose to change someone else’s mind. The only person who can is them, and I would hope that they would only do so because of a reinterpreting and new understanding of the evidence in any case. So why in such cases, is it wrong to have an opinion?
Let me use an example that is close to my heart. I am a Christian. I look at the evidence for the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, and am of the opinion that it is credible and true. This belief in turn shapes other beliefs I have, including morality and politics. This is my opinion. Other people have a different opinion, and therefore may have different views on the same topics. If pressed, I think we all would say we believe that it is ok to have different opinions, and to allow those opinions to shape our views. Why then is it seemingly more inappropriate for one group to express their views? I am not arguing that one group’s beliefs are morally superior to another, nor am I stating that one is right and the other is wrong (although it is my personal belief that in many cases both are true). I am simply inquiring as to why when one side chooses to express their opinions the other side chastises them for doing so?
It definitely cuts both ways. Sticking with the topic mentioned above, Christians are consistently looked down on for their views on hot button issues such as abortion and homosexuality. I believe this is totally unfair. It is our choice to believe what we do, based on how we have interpreted the evidence. Inversely, many Christians continue to look down their noses on a group of people who does not share their beliefs or worldview. This too is completely unfair, and misguided. If someone has a different opinion about the existence of God and morality than we do – how can we expect them to share our views on these matters? Logically we cannot. Both sides need to learn to be ok with the fact that people disagree with them.
The reality is that our focus should be on respectfully sharing the evidence that so understandably has formed our opinion. For those of us who are Christians, the Bible commands us to do as much.
(1 Peter 3:15-17) –“…but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.”
It’s my opinion, that God loved all of us enough to let us make our own choices in life, about almost everything. Who or what we worship, what is right and wrong, and how we all wound up here in the first place. I think the evidence points one way – but I want to show others the same love God showed me by allowing them to express their opinions without telling them they’re wrong for doing so. My hope is that they could learn to do the same for me. So rather than insulting each other for having different opinions, lets all agree that we’d be better off learning to defend our own beliefs. Perhaps you disagree? Well then I guess that would be your opinion…