How do arguments start? Name calling – “You are transphobic, intolerant of others!” Accusations – “You question Black Lives Matter’s motives? You are racist!” Finger-pointing – “You, and those that think like you, are why we cannot talk anymore!” Voices are raised, anger ensues and folks walk out in a huff. It is happening in families, churches and the public square. Have we lost the ability to argue civilly?
In God in the Dock, an accumulation of C.S. Lewis’ essays, he introduces the reader to “The Socratic Club”. Founded by a group of Christians at Oxford, of which Lewis was one, the club created an environment for healthy argument. At the onset, Lewis stated that if one says he is entering an argument with a neutral stance, he is lying. Everyone enters an argument with a bias, or partiality toward one point of view. But once the argument is presented, all are equally vulnerable and stand on neutral ground. Lewis speaks of how wonderful arguments ensued in the club.
The weapons we fight with are not weapons of this world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. – 2Corinthians 10:4-5. Paul says Christians are to focus on demolishing arguments and pretensions that are set up against the knowledge of God. The first step is to recognize the arguments. A couple that the devil loves to keep stirred up are the biblical definition of marriage, and God’s design for human sexuality, “male and female, He created them.” (Genesis 1:27). The second step is to stand firm in truth and be willing to argue. To argue is, “to give reasons for or against something; to contend or disagree in words.” (Merriam-Webster). The art of good argument is foundational to healthy dialogue. But today, arguments often digress to loud, disrespectful and even violent interactions. Most arguments come down to the understanding of, and embracing of truth. An example in scripture is the interaction between Jesus and Pilate. Jesus said, “… the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to Me.” Pilate retorted, “What is truth?”- John 18:37-38. Rome had its own truth. A Christian’s ability and willingness to stand firm in the absolute truth, as Jesus did in His time on this earth, will determine whether or not arguments and pretensions that are set up against the knowledge of God, are demolished. The charge to dads is to stand firm in truth, be willing to argue and rebuke the devil’s schemes.
There were family discussions and townhall style meetings. Civil arguments were entertained on both sides of the aisle and further information was distributed to answer specific questions. When it came time for the church to vote, there was clarity surrounding the issues. Eighty-five percent of the congregation said they wanted to stay under the authority of Scripture with the traditional interpretation of language around the absolute truth in the word of God.
Prayer guide: Thank You Lord for Your word and the absolute truth it provides as guardrails in this world. I confess that I have entered arguments thinking the one that was loudest and cursed the most, won. The loser went home. Forgive me. Your example with Pilate, and later with Peter and with Paul, provided clarity in the midst of heated passions of the day. Grant me strength to stand firm in truth, be willing to argue and rebuke the devil's schemes. That is the dad You call me to be and that is the dad the next generation needs. Amen.
A faithful father stands firm in truth, is willing to argue and rebukes the devil's schemes.