Previously, I have written on the subject of why I debate on the Christian forums, and also why sometimes it’s best to disengage for a while.
Today, I want to make that a ‘trilogy’ and give you (and me) permission to not engage in nonproductive arguments!
You know, in 1Pet 3:15, it says, “Always be prepared to give a defence to everyone who asks you to explain the hope you have, but do this with gentleness and respect”
And I think sometimes that many of us, myself included, take this as meaning that we are not allowed to pick our battles. Sometimes we need to say, ‘This is not a battle I should be fighting’, and this Scripture should not prevent us from saying just that.
We often think that unless we have an answer ready – and usually a shallow, trite answer will do – that we are somehow not obeying this ‘commandment’. And so we engage with every single demand that those who believe different things throw at us.
Well, let me tell you that actually that verse is not a commandment at all. St. Peter, or whoever it actually was that wrote that letter (there is apparently some doubt), was not in a position to give out commandments. Neither was St. Paul, for that matter. Neither of them was God. Anything in the Epistles that looks like a commandment, then, is nothing of the sort; they are more suggestions or guidelines or maybe just simple practical advice. Otherwise we’d all have to ‘take a little wine’ (1Tim 5:23) every time our tummy is unwell! Of course, guidelines in the hands of Legalists always turn into Rules, but I digress even more…
So, then, please remember this: you do not have to engage *every* naysayer, fake-questioner (those who ask ‘questions’ that are simply formulated to set you up), those who would question your salvation. You do not have to try to prove people wrong, prove yourself right, or indeed prove anything. Be sensitive to the Spirit of God within you; if you feel She is saying, Yes, speak a word in due season here, then do so. If you don’t get that prompt, do not engage. There are more important things to do than engaging in fruitless dialogue (or often it’s just two monologues going on).
Feel free to block people who annoy you. Civilized debate is one thing; nasty people is something else. This is not cowardice; this is sanity! I have decided that from now on I am going to block people freely – not those who disagree with me, for decent debate is great – but those who are destructive, energy-sapping and soul-destroying. To engage with these people is folly.
Don’t give dogs what is sacred (Mt 7:6), and that includes your time!
“Choose your battles wisely. After all, life isn’t measured by how many times you stood up to fight. It’s not winning battles that makes you happy, but it’s how many times you turned away and chose to look into a better direction. Life is too short to spend it on warring. Fight only the most, most, most important ones, let the rest go”.
– C. JoyBell C