The other day I got in a Twitter “fight” with some random girl named Sherry.
I’ve reproduced the argument below for instructive purposes. Comments are in brackets.
Tony Reinke: Al Mohler (June 2014): “If you get any report of any kind of sexual abuse, certainly involving a minor, you be committed before that ever happens, that before you leave that room you are going to dial 9-1-1 and you’re going to call for help.” [Virtue signaling]
JT: Translation: Always assume the man is guilty and turn the matter over to the secular courts. Hmm…
Sherry: He only said pastors aren’t qualified to investigate. Let the authorities do that. The ‘secular courts’ have presumption of innocence with burden of proof that has to be met. Not like the kangaroo courts we’ve seen in colleges where students can be railroaded with no defense.
JT: Perhaps you don’t know that it is shameful for Christians to go to court? (1 Cor 6)
Sherry: You can’t be serious to think there is a correlation between neighborhood litigation and sexual assault. Perhaps you don’t know that Christians are also sinners and commit crimes. Is this a parody account? [Both women and gamma males argue the same way: address an imaginary argument (“so you’re saying…”) rather than what was said. Then they attempt to change the topic with pseudo-logic and discredit the messenger.]
JT: Taking a sexual assault accusation to court is litigation by definition. Christians are called to use wisdom to judge each case fairly.
JT: Again, have you read 1 Corinthians 6?
Sherry: Yes I have and you’re definitely a joke.
Sherry: Christians are also called to follow the law.
JT: So turning a brother over to the court is following the law?
Sherry: I’m probably foolish to answer, but in this case Yes. @AlbertMohler is referring to sexual abuse. I stand by my first comment. 1 Cor 6 doesn’t apply. This isn’t a trivial or small matter to be handled between believers. Especially if a child is involved. [This is where she has given up. People who argue on an emotional level are quickly exhausted by logic. Also note the callout to @AlbertMohler. She is hoping a higher authority can affirm the opinion she cannot defend.]
JT: Sherry, you are allowing emotion to cloud your judgment. Just because a child is involved doesn’t automatically mean the man is guilty.
JT: 1 Cor 6 is a universal principle for all disputes between Christians. Each case must be examined with wisdom… without knee-jerk reactions
From what I can gather, there are three Christian goals to arguing:
- To shame opponents of truth into silence (Tit 2:8)
- To instruct a watching audience (Prov 19:25)
- To give the opponent opportunity to repent (2 Tim 2:25)*
My recent Twitter exchange inspired me to come up with a simple argument formula that Christians could use that I think meets all the above criteria:
- Decode the jargon – most opening statements from angry women and false teachers are nothing more than virtue signaling disguised with righteous sounding jargon. Decode the B.S. so that everyone can see the plain meaning.
- Have you not read? – call attention to the Scripture passage that corrects the false assumption. Phrasing it as a question makes it irresistible to the ego. No one wants to be ignorant. The intensity of the rhetoric here depends on the type of person you’re dealing with (e.g. man vs. woman, teacher vs. layman, educated vs. naive, etc.)
- Correct and dismiss the false argument – most of the time, you’ll be arguing with a gamma male or a woman. They won’t address your point and will almost without fail counter with a “so you’re saying…” line or something similar. Quickly correct and dismiss the false argument and immediately move to the next step.
- Restate the question. Go back to Step 2. Repeat Steps 3 & 4 if necessary.
* Note that the biblical concept of “gentleness” implies using strength. It’s an expression of power, but with reserve. In other words, only use as much strength as necessary for the situation.