Monday, December 10, 2007

An Argument Against Arguing . . .

Did you like the alliteration?

There is a such thing as genuine confidence but most of the time confidence is a purposeful exudation-acting sort of like a defense mechanism. This mechanism is ignited and morphs into pride when someone is challenged in a debate. But the unfortunate truth is all debate inherently falls into this category. That is why no debate ever results in one side affecting a change in the other side. Debates are meant to sway the audience, not the participants.

In other words: debating an atheist will never result in winning him over to your side. And vice versa.

You can't argue someone to change their position. The only way to convince someone to change their mind on an issue is to present the information in such a way that they can claim to have come to the conclusion on their own.

This can only happen if there is a respectful exchange of ideas. And most importantly, there can be no perceived judgemental or superior attitude.

I have known a couple of Christians who did not understand this. I call them angry Christians. They tell homosexuals in a less than socially agreeable disposition: "You're a sinner and your going to hell." Do you really think the homosexual will reply "I see your point. Please help me develop a relationship with Christ."

I know this is an extreme example, but almost any comment will ignite the same defense mechanism. Please note that I'm speaking of face to face interaction. You can certainly write a book where you present the case that the Bible does preach against homosexuality. It still must be done with respect and love toward those who engage in that activity. It should also remind them that Jesus loves everyone and gave His life so that no man shall perish. Even atheists and homosexuals.

The angry Christian should realize that they have something in common with everyone they focus their intense scowl on -- all have sinned and all are sinners.

Want to help bring a homosexual, atheist, or ANYONE to Christ? Become their friend. Show them the same love and understanding that God afforded you. Despite your sins. Despite your continuing sins.


Janet Rubin said...

Amen. There are Proverbs about these things. Arguing with an angry man and such. It's like the Beatles said, "love, love, love"

Jan Parrish said...

I totally agree. I don't know of one incident in this decade in which someone repented from the hell-fire approach.

I once had someone question me about using a gay hairdresser. I share Jesus with him in a friendly, non judgmental way. When he has questions, do you think he will go to the ones picketing his shop, or will he go to the one who shows him Christ's love?

Kay said...

Amen, Brother. Amen.
They will know we are Christians by our love.

Mark Harbeson said...

Totally agree. It's important to be able to defend your faith, and call sin what it is, but I think the biggest problem Christians in general face is that we've done so with a judgmental, instead of loving, attitude.

It seems like "debate" these days has deteriorated into a game in which the object is to destroy and humiliate your opponent.

Mike Duran said...

Dayle, I'm guessing this post was, in part, influenced by the "atheist debate" that went on at my site. You probably won't be shocked to discover I disagree with your premise. Of course, there's a big difference between "debate" and "argument." Good debates clarify the issue and help people reach more informed positions; they also harden the already-opinionated. The point is not whether or not we'll change people's minds, but whether or not we're defending the truth with clarity and compassion. How a person responds to that truth is their responsibility, not mine. In the process of loving people to Christ, many "debates" should ensue. But in the end, it's that balance of "grace and truth" that brings light... or drives one into further shadow, which is equally as necessary.

Dayle James Arceneaux said...

Actually, Mike, I think we're on the same page.

I was speaking more of the Chritians I've seen who start out their debates with a holier than thou attitude. They have already judged their opponents and feel they must be the conveyor of God's future wrath on these 'sinners'.

I don't lump you in that category.

I think we agree that we must defend our beliefs and more importantly - counter those who are trying to 'lose' souls to the other side. We certainly shouldn't allow them to hog the public arena.

My point was: don't argue with them, counter them. Show them respect. Our real payoff will be with the audience.

And no, we can't write anyone off, but vitriol begats vitriol.

Our arguments will only have a delayed effect on the entrenched. In a debate no one wants to lose face and admit the other side was right. Plant the seed and wait for it to take root.

So, I think we're in agreement. Yes? No?