Kind, patient and gentle debates?

Kind, patient and gentle debates?

Darryl brought to light a nasty conflict going on between some reformed not so reformed evangelicals.  I read through each post  cataloged on by some other blogger.  Is it me or are the reformed baptist types the most volatile when it comes to online theological debate? 

There are specific topics that people just seem to get angry about.  What is it about homosexuality or women in ministry or the sovereignty of God that makes people so angry when they encounter someone who doesn’t think like they do?  Why do people get angry?  I think that for somethings, like homosexuality, we rationalize our own bigotry and hatred with scripture verses.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I still think that the best interpretation of the biblical passages leads me to believe there is something is at least a little bit wrong with gay sex.  However I don’t think your average church goer’s opinion on homosexuality comes from the bible.  I think it comes from society.  People are worried that the pro same sex marriage camp is compromising with our postmodern culture of tolerance and relativism.  I see just as much compromise on the other side.  Does the hatred, and yes I mean the “If one of those fagots ever touches me I’ll curb stomp ’em” hatred, come from the bible?  I’ve seen it lots among church people.  It comes from society and many elements of the church have just legitimized it.  We can cover it up with “hate the sin, love the sinner” language but deep down our hearts we have legitimized our bigotry.  We often don’t admit it but we feel we have the right to treat someone like trash if we are right and they are wrong. 

I believe in good theology.  I think that my search for Christ in the scriptures led me to a strong belief in grace, faith and the sovereignty of God.  Good theology helped me understand God and salvation better and that dramatically improved my relationship with God.  However  I still prefer to leave things up to mystery because I don’t think the bible is perfectly clear.  Do believe that Christ died for my sins?  Yes.  Do I believe in substitutionary atonement as the the primary metaphor for understanding what Christ did for me? No.  I don’t know how Christ’s death works. I just know that it does work.  This whole thing illustrates my frustration with the modern evangelical world.  I think it arrogant and presumptuous to believe that I alone am right on issues that people traditionally divide over.  That isn’t relativism.  I’m not picking and choosing what to believe on a whim.  I’m just trying to be honest with myself.

I think that there a great many ethical and value issues that are abundantly clear in scripture that seem to slip past our radar.  How many warnings are there in scripture about getting in to useless and divisive arguments? 

All verses are NASB

1Cor 3:1  And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were R103 not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, 3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? 4 For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men?

 1Tim 6:20 O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge”– 21 which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith. Grace be with you.  

2Tim 2:23 But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. 24 The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able  to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if  perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the  snare of the devil, having been held  captive by him to do his will.

James 4:11 Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?

I like a good debate. I’d say that I’ve been on the wrong side of these Scripture verses on many occasions.  I think I’m finally starting to see the wisdom of Paul and James in this stuff.  I have to wonder how much good ever comes out of volatile debates?  Can there be a debate where both sides are kind, patient and gentle? 

  1. #1 by Bene Diction on November 27, 2005 - 5:53 pm

    Is it Baptist theology or a mentality that demands evangelizing at any cost? I also wonder if some if it is fear, this is a denomination that counts numbers, altar calls, demands results. And results oriented/war/winning thinking doesn’t have much room for grace or the messiness of human life. It seems to be a denomination that attracts literalism more than some. Not unlike Jehovah Witnesses – to the letter of the law.

    I don’t think it is just you. I think the demands of the denomination lead to really harming others, especially their own.

  2. #2 by Anonymous on November 28, 2005 - 8:25 am

    Leighton, do you think you advance the cause of kind, patient and gentle debate when you choose to characterize those who would oppose same sex marriage as “curb stomping haters?”

    Do you really mean to say that to use the language of “hate the sin, love the sinner” is really just a “cover” for a heart filled with bigotry? Or do I misread you?

    I like your reference to a belief in good theology and your use of scriptures, in that regard. Leighton, it would seem reasonable to me that in order to affirm same sex marriage one would first have to affirm and accept some form of homosexual behavior/expression.

    Could you please direct me to that place in scripture where such behaviors are affirmed.

    Sincerely, Paul.

  3. #3 by Leighton Tebay on November 28, 2005 - 9:09 am


    The phrase “if one of those fagots ever touches me I’ll curb stomp ’em” is an actual quote. I’ve heard many like it from Christians. I didn’t mean to imply that everyone that has issues with homosexuals thinks that way. In my post I said that I think gay sex is wrong.

    I think that for many the “hate the sin, love the sinner” is just a cover but not for all.

    As for your last question I don’t think you read my post correctly as I didn’t affirm same sex marriage in the post.

  4. #4 by Marc on November 28, 2005 - 11:08 am

    I’ll back LT on the “curb stomping” thing. I’ve heard similar things from Christians. It’s very disturbing.

  5. #5 by Paul Johnston on November 28, 2005 - 12:57 pm

    Is it legitimate to quote unspecified sources and their clearly errant and abhorant perspectives as a means to discredit an entire group? Is it fair to first context your post, one dealing with kindness, with the statement, ” I think for somethings, like homosexuality, we rationalize our own bigotry and hatred with scripture verses.” ?

    I suppose if I tried I could find those within pro homosexual lobby groups who have equally disdainful and hateful regard for those whom they oppose. I would like to assume that such people would reflect a hateful minority and not the body at large. I certainly wouldn’t view it as kind or even reasonable to use such examples as a means of undermining their perspectives.

    Honestly Leighton, I think you could make a better case for objectivity on this issue if you refrained from catorgorizing one of the opposing parties and the reasons for there beliefs in such a negative light. Particularly given the context of the post itself.

    I do like the scriptural quotes though, important reminders indeed.


  6. #6 by Paul johnston on November 28, 2005 - 1:00 pm

    Hey, Leighton my last response origionally included a greeting. Somewhere in the edit I goofed and took it out. Sorry.

  7. #7 by Leighton Tebay on November 28, 2005 - 1:03 pm


    The intent of this post isn’t designed to discredit any group at all. If I’m putting a negative light on any group I’m putting that on the group I am a part of. The abhorant quote was made by a personal friend of mine.

  8. #8 by Beck on November 28, 2005 - 2:43 pm

    “What is it about homosexuality or women in ministry or the sovereignty of God that makes people so angry when they encounter someone who doesn’t think like they do?”

    I’ve noticed the same thing about these issues… in fact I’ve felt the anger welling up in my heart when “debating” with someone who disagrees with me. (I’ll add abortion to your list of topics that inspire intense anger, cause that’s the one that tends to fire me up.)

    I have a gay family member and I’ve often struggled over the “Love the sinner, hate the sin” philosophy… the reason is that he says being a homosexual is WHO HE IS. So if I tell him I hate the sin am I telling him I hate HIM? (Now, I happen to disagree with it being who he is, heterosexuality is not who I am, it doesn’t define me.) The point is, he thinks that way, so how do I approach him in a way that shows the love of Jesus? I might not mean that I hate him if I make that statement, but that’s what he hears from me. He’s experienced enough bigotry and hatred from others. He doesn’t need that from me. It’s a major dilemma for me.

    I guess I’m trying to say that I’ve noticed that we get angry when the argument starts to feel personal. We start to feel attacked and backed up against a wall and our instinct is to strike out so that our position can’t be hurt. That’s how I am anyways… It’s difficult to keep emotions like fear and anger out of an argument that touches on issues we hold as sacred, or issues that we think define who we are as believers. I feel that my faith defines who I am as a person, and so when I feel my faith attacked I want to fight back. My family member feels homosexuality defines who he is and so it is only natural for him to feel attached when someone says “Hate the sin.”

    I’m rambling a bit, I know, but I think your post helped bring my attention to the need to have compassion for others when we disagree with them. I need to remember how I feel when my beliefs are attacked while I debate. Thanks Leighton. Good post.

    Am I rambling?

  9. #9 by Beck on November 28, 2005 - 2:44 pm

    Oops… meant to erase that last question since I answered it for myself… must remember to proofread.

  10. #10 by becky on November 28, 2005 - 6:00 pm

    I liked what you had to say, Beck. (and I’m only partially biased by your great first name!)

    I appreciate the honesty of struggle that shows up in your comment — while I may or may not agree with you, I can see where you’re coming from in your belief process, and it helps to put things into perspective.

    Maybe if we were were honest with each other about where we’re coming from (and actually listen to what the other side is really saying) — it would be a lot harder to outrightly dismiss them as evil or wrong in what they believe.

    And that’s something I need to do.

  11. #11 by Beck on November 28, 2005 - 8:35 pm

    … I’m not sure I agree with me either…

  12. #12 by Jadon on November 29, 2005 - 4:01 pm

    I think part of the challenge is that Christians tend to consider everything as settled and eternal, which can make people feel powerful. So anything tentative or complex is easily dismissed and nothing gets resolved.

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