There is no shortage of people out there today who often say something like “you believe what you want to believe, but don’t push your beliefs on me.” They hate it when “people try to shove religion down their throat,” as they say. Anytime a topic relating to Christianity gets brought up, so does the phrase “don’t push your beliefs on me.”
In my previous post, I mentioned the difference between objective & subjective morality. Some things are truly right and some things are truly wrong. I also briefly mentioned the increasingly popular worldview known as “relativism.” This view basically states that there is no objective moral standard, and things such as “right” and “wrong” do not really exist. “That’s true for you but it’s not true for me” is the catch phrase there. The phrase “don’t push your beliefs on me” is a reaction from relativists to those who are trying to share their own view which happens to contradict the other persons.
Is Relativism Consistent?
As previously noted, relativism is not consistent. It is quite difficult for someone to actively live out the belief that there is no such thing as an objective moral standard which we all live by. The statement “don’t push your beliefs on me” is equally as difficult to live out. I would take it a step further by stating that it is nearly impossible to live out the saying “don’t push your beliefs on me.”
What Is Wrong With Saying “Don’t Push Your Beliefs On Me”?
The problem with this statement is that it is logically inconsistent and a contradiction in terms. If one believes that others should not “push their beliefs on others” then the only rational thing for that person to do would be to keep that belief to themselves. Thus, they would never actually state the phrase “don’t push your beliefs on me” because they would indeed be pushing their belief on someone else in the first place. I understand this sounds complicated, but it is really rather simple.
“Person A” believes it is wrong for a person to push one’s beliefs onto other people. “Person A” would much rather that one keep their beliefs to themselves. “Person B” attempts to state to “Person A” what he/she believes about something (religious or not). “Person A” then pushes his/her belief onto “Person B” that it is wrong to push beliefs on other people. “Person A” has just contradicted themselves.
Even if “Person A” was to say it nicely to “Person B” by saying “You believe what you want to believe & I believe what I want to believe. We’ll leave it at that.” What if “Person B” believed that his/her beliefs actually needed to be shared with others? What if “Person B” could not just leave it at that but actually felt it was good to share one’s belief with others? There would be a disagreement at which both “Person A” and “Person B” could not consistently live out their belief simultaneously.
Why Do People Use This Statement?
Although the phrase “you believe what you want to believe, but don’t push your beliefs on me” is a clear logical contradiction, I have still heard it said by a number of different people at a number of different times. So why is this phrase still used?
Firstly, people may not at first see the clear logical contradiction in the statement itself. They may see nothing wrong in using it.
Secondly, this phrase is used as the polite way of saying “I disagree with what you believe, so you ought to keep quiet about it or we will begin to argue about it.”
Thirdly, this phrase is most commonly used when it comes to someone of a religious nature trying to share their belief about God, morals, etc. Personally, this is the time that I have most often encountered this phrase. Of course it is true that this phrase may be used when “touchy subjects” are brought up such as abortion, homosexuality, politics, etc. However, it is most commonly said by a non-religious person to a religious person.
Fourthly, in a society which clings onto being “tolerant” of all beliefs, this phrase is used to try and defuse a possible situation arising that might show how intolerant the person really is. However, in the very act of trying to defuse intolerance, one is not being tolerant towards the belief that beliefs should be shared.
“Don’t push your beliefs on me” is not a helpful phrase in a post-modern relativistic society. For those who preach tolerance it is not helping their case by using this phrase. The phrase is often used by (but not limited to) non-religious people towards religious people who hold religious convictions. If you have seen the logical contradiction in using such a statement (or any with different wording but similar meaning) then it is time to see the inconsistency with living out that statement and stop saying it.
As a Christian, this is my belief:
Matthew 28:19-20 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
Romans 10:14-15 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
– Tyson Bradley