Should Christians back down from arguments

In an increasingly contentious culture like ours, do you find yourself working hard to avoid arguments and conflict? If you answered yes, listen up.

One of the things that strikes me in our culture is that Christians seemed to go out of their way in this day and time to avoid the conversations that seem to produce conflict. I don’t know if it’s because we’re afraid to have conflict or if we somehow have an idea that being like Jesus means that we are meek and mild mannered all the time. We don’t want to upset anybody. We don’t want to offend anybody. We don’t want say anything that might hurt somebody’s feelings. While that is a nice sympathetic approach to life, it just won’t do in the 21st Century.

Let me show you an example. In Matthew 22 we have one of my favorite interviews with Jesus when He has an encounter with some Pharisees, some religious leaders who come to Him specifically with the intent of trapping Him with words. Let me read this story to you and then I’ll tell you what it means. In Matthew 22 beginning in verse 15 it says,

"Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to trap Jesus by what He said. So, they sent their disciples to Him, along with the Herodians. 'Teacher,' they said, 'we know that you are truthful and teach truthfully the way of God. You don’t care what anyone thinks nor do you show partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?' Perceiving their malicious intent, Jesus said, 'Why are you testing me, hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax.' They brought Him a denarius. 'Whose image and inscription is this?” He asked them. 'Caesar’s,' they said to Him. Then He said to them, 'Give, then, to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.' When they heard this, they were amazed. So, they left Him and went away."

Let me break this down for you really quickly. Verse 15 it says that they “plotted how to trap Him by what He said.” In other words, they intended to maliciously abuse words to get Jesus to say something that they could attack. That’s precisely where we find ourselves today. The questions and the arguments of our time are framed in such a way that there’s no way to answer them without digging yourself in to a hole. As a consequence, most Christians try to avoid the conversations all together.

These men came to Jesus with transparent flattery. They said, “Oh you’re so wise and so smart. We have a question we want to ask you.” And in verse 17 they sprung the trap. They gave Him a false dichotomy. They framed the debate so that He had no good options on how to answer it. “Should we pay taxes to Caesar or not?” In other words, was He going to be loyal to Rome and upset the Jewish people? Or was He going to pander to the Jewish people and put Himself in trouble with Rome? This was the trap of the question. Exactly the kind of thing that happens in our generation.

Jesus, first of all He recognized their evil intent and He called them hypocrites. I love that. We’re so nice and soft all the time. Jesus told the truth. He said, “I see what you’re doing. Give Me a coin.” And He took a coin, asked whose picture, whose inscription was on the coin. They said, “Why, it’s a picture of Caesar.” And He said, “Then give to Caesar those things that belong to Caesar. Give to God the things that belong to God.” In other words, Jesus reframed the debate. And the end result was it says, “they were amazed. And they went away.”

That’s what we need. We need Christians who are willing to understand how to properly argue in a Christ-like way in our generation so we can put some of these dangerous attacking questions to rest.

Let me give you some help. Some of the things that are said about Christianity are often, I think, sort of accepted by Christians because we don’t want to get into a debate. I hear these kinds of things and read about them regularly. All you have to do is understand the meaning of words so that you can define them properly. Or, you need to understand the truth that can answer the false accusations that are made.

For example, people will often say, critics of Christianity will often say, “Well Christianity is misogynistic. It’s sexist.” My answer is, “No, actually in the first century the original Christianity was received by women more than by men even because the message of Christianity was the most liberating message to women in human history.” Not only is Christianity not sexists, Christianity is the only world religion that provides a place for women stand and have value. You want to see a religion that hates women, go check Buddhism. Go see the role of women in Buddhism and examine that if you want a sexist, misogynistic religion to look at.

They’ll say, “Well, Christianity is racist. It’s the tool of white supremacy.” No, again you’re wrong. I don’t let the charge go unchallenged because the fact of the matter is Christianity is most globally diverse faith on the planet. In fact, it’s not even primarily a white religion. Whenever people call it racist or a part of white supremacy I say, “You know, wherever Christianity is dominant in history that’s where slavery always eventually is done away with.”  You can’t say that about Hinduism. In Hinduism there is a strict caste system, a system of racial division that so entrenched in society that you literally cannot move upward in their system because you are locked in to whatever racial boundaries you were born into.

Well, people will sometimes say, “Well Christianity is power hungry. It’s politically oppressive.” No, in fact Christianity teaches humility. It teaches love. It teaches submission to Godly authority. You want to find a religion that teaches political dominance, go look at Islam because that’s where you’ll find a religion with a stated goal of taking over politically the entire world.

Sometimes people will say, “Well, Christians are judgmental. They’re discriminatory.” Well here, let’s talk about this. We need to correctly define terms and then embrace those terms in their proper use. Don’t let the left, don’t let progressives frame the debate.

“Christianity is judgmental.” I’ve been asked before when I’ve talked to people about things. They’ll say, “Well who are you to judge?” Well, when we hear those words, they’re meant to intimidate us into backing up. “Well now, now, wait a minute. I’m not trying to be judgmental. I don’t want to judge…” And we back away because we let them frame the debate. Here’s the way you respond. Somebody says, “Well, who are you to judge?” And I say, “Well, I’m pretty qualified to judge.” Fact of the matter is I’m 59 years of age. I’ve lived a long time. I’ve got quite a bit of life experience. I’ve been married almost 40 years. I’ve had a job my entire adult life. I pay my bills. I’ve parented three children. I’m educated. I know how to think. I’m aware of culture and current events. I think I’m pretty qualified to judge. Who would you rather have judge?

You see, they ask the questions in an accusatory tone designed to force us to back away. Oh no, because no one wants to be judgmental. Well, it’s because they’ve changed the meaning of that word. To judge something is simply to evaluate the facts in front of you and make a decision based on those facts. There’s nothing wrong with the word “judge.”

By the same token we have people use the word “discrimination” in an accusatory way. “Well, you just like to discriminate.” Well, I looked it up. Here’s the definition for discrimination. “To discriminate means to make a distinction. To use good judgment.” Those sound like a pretty positive definition to me.

Oh, the second definition says, “To make a difference in treatment or favor on a basis other than individual merit.” Ok. There is a bad kind of discrimination. That’s when we take somebody and judge them apart from their merit. Alright, well let’s see who’s doing that. We’re told that we’re discriminatory. Discrimination simply means to make a choice. I always thought the left loved choice. They sure said it enough times.

But think about this. The California Governor, whose name is Newsom, is about to be recalled in an election this fall. In order to head off that election he made this statement. He promises. He made a campaign pledge facing his recall. He pledges that when a U.S. Senate seat comes open in California that he will fill that Senate seat with an African American woman. Wow! Is she qualified? Has she ever been in politics before? Does she have any ability to fulfill the obligations and the duties of the position? Or is he making a choice separate from the merits she brings and simply advancing someone on the basis of skin color.

Let’s talk about the NBA. The National Basketball Association is probably the most woke and progressive of all the major sports organizations. I’m a little offended that basketball teams aren’t more racially diverse. Not many Scandinavians in the NBA. I don’t know if there’s any Samoans. Not too many Asians. Which would you rather have, your favorite basketball team, would you rather have a team that is racially diverse? Maybe you have one of twelve different kinds of races to make up a rainbow of a team. Or do you want your team to have the best athletes available?

You see, it’s called discrimination. It’s not a negative. Those NBA players are in the NBA because the merit, the talent that they bring qualifies them to be in that position. Seems to me that making a choice is a good thing. Choosing people based on their merits, based on their qualifications, based on their potential, that’s a good thing. When you look at somebody and say, “This young man or this young woman has real potential. I want to hire them in my business.” That’s not discrimination. But when you look at a position and say, “You know, we should put somebody in here that looks different then us regardless of whether they do the job.” Now that is discrimination.

Well, let me give you some questions real quickly that often come up in conversations that I’ve had over the years. People will say things like, “Well, the Christian view of sexuality is…” and you can fill in the blank. It’s hateful. It’s repressive. It’s stupid. My answer is, “Well, the worldly view of sexuality is destructive, abusive, degrading.”

People will say, “Well, live and let live.” If you believe something then live that way and let others live whatever way they want. Not that always seems to applied to people on the left but not to Christians. But I would say to this, to that kind of answer, instead of backing away, “Live and let live, what do you care what people do?” My answer is, “No society can survive with a different set of rules for each individual.

“Well don’t you want to be on the right side of history?” I hear that a lot today. Fact of the matter is there is no right side of history. The history books are always written by the winners. You want to be on the right side of eternity? That’s the question.

I’ve heard people say, “Follow your heart. Be true to yourself.” Well, all I know is that man’s heart is deceitful and untrustworthy. And there are examples everywhere to prove it.

“Well, I don’t want to put God in a box.” Yes, you do. That’s exactly what you want to do. You want God to have your ideals, your opinions and your views on every subject.

“Well, why do you think you know more about God than I do?” Simple, because I’ve read the book where He reveals Himself.

Words matter. Definitions are important. Courageous witnesses are critical in this present moment, so you, as a follower of Jesus, understand the terms. Grasp the truth and speak boldly in your sphere of influence.

This is TruthCurrents.
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