In summary, level one concerns logic, level two is based on feeling, and level three is where all is applied to reality. To put it another way, level one states why we believe what we believe, level two indicates why we live the way we live, and level three states why we legislate for others the way we do.
For every life that is lived at a reasonable level, these three questions must be answered. First, can I defend what I believe in keeping with the laws of logic? That is, is it tenable? Second, if everyone gave himself or herself the prerogatives of my philosophy, could there be harmony in existence? That is, is it livable? Third, do I have a right to make moral judgments in the matters of daily living? That is, is it transferable?
None of these levels can exist in isolation. They must follow a proper sequence. Here is the key: One must argue from level one, illustrate from level two, and apply at level three. Life must move from truth to experience to prescription. If either the theist or the atheist violates this procedure, he or she is not dealing with reality but is creating one of his or her own.
On one occasion I ran up against this very question from a news reporter. I had just finished lecturing at a university, and she had very graciously stayed through the entire lecture even though she had other pressing engagements. After the lecture was over, she was walking beside me and said, “Can I ask you a question that really troubles me about the Christian?” I was glad to oblige. “Why,” she asked, “are Christians openly against racial discrimination but at the same time discriminate against certain types of sexual behavior?” (She made more specific references to the types of behavior she felt we discriminated against.)
I said this to her: “We are against racial discrimination because one’s ethnicity is sacred. You cannot violate the sacredness of one’s race. For the same reason we are against the altering of God’s pattern and purpose for sexuality. Sex is sacred in the eyes of God and ought not to be violated. What you have to explain is why you treat race as sacred and desacralize sexuality. The question is really yours, not mine. In other words, our reasoning in both cases stems from the same foundational basis. You in effect switch the basis of reasoning, and that is why you are living in contradiction.
There was silence, and she said, “I’ve never thought of it in those terms.”
You see, when an argument is taken to the first level, it immediately finds a common point of reference. When it leaps only to the third level, it builds without a foundation.
-Ravi Zacharias in Is Your Church Ready?, KL 393-401, 405-417.