Sunday, July 3, 2011

To Debate, or...Not?

I have encountered a struggle as of late...

It has confused my poor little mind and I am not quite certain what the biblical approach to the situation is...

My conundrum is this:  I was in the midst of a discussion, and could not formulate a reason to state my defense without being disrespectful.  I, indeed did not know what to do!  I wanted so badly to scream the biblical definitions that needed to be declared, but felt that if I had done so, I would have overstepped my bounds as a young woman.

My predicament lied with another woman, but she would be considered my elder.  So I was flabbergasted as to whether or not I should stop biting my tongue and just let all my studies in theology, apologetics and philosophy be put to good use!  I love to debate and it is a fact I am well aware of, but I wanted to be exceptionally cautious, that I didn't let my zeal for God's truth overwhelm my obligations to maintain a meek and quiet spirit.  

I feared being disrespectful, and in my efforts to proclaim the theological reasoning that lies behind one's depravity and convey a proper perspective of sanctification, I was afraid of being too harsh and appearing to be more along the lines of a *know it all*, as opposed to a godly and respectful young woman.  I don't even come close to possessing all the answers and I have very little knowledge; and while sanctification is a process, I am not a fraction of what I should be.  So in the end, I did not have a clue what was the right way to approach the dilemma that was boldly staring me in the face. 

"You shall rise up before the grayheaded and honor the aged, and you shall revere your God; I am the Lord."  (Leviticus 19:32)

Later on, as I began to deliberate whether or not my actions were correct; I came to the conclusion that since I was in doubt, it was not completely bad that I held my tongue. However, it did make me think...what should I do next time?  Should I keep my mouth shut?  Or should I try and respectfully say what I know God has declared to be true?  (to me, the latter sounds more like a biblical definition concerning the nature of a true Christian)

But the question still it right for me to express my beliefs in an opposing manner to someone who is my elder?  In light of this question that has boggled my mind, I felt the necessity to delve into some scripture study regarding the situation.

"Beloved, while I was making every effort to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.  For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked our for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ." (Jude 3-4)
 "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.  For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.  For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.  Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man..."  (Romans 1:18-23)
 "For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth."  (2 Corinthians 13:8)
 "As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ..." (Ephesians 4:14-15)
"Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak the truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another."  (Ephesians 4:25)
 "Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe."  (1 Timothy 4:12)

The Bible emphasizes over and over the importance of speaking the truth!   I cannot be silent and let others think that I consent to the false doctrines they are so vehemently clinging to.  How can my conscience be clear, if I have not imputed the truth of Jesus Christ into a hypocritical conversation?  It is just like when someone wants to question me about having the desire to be a wife and mother and use my single years at home to better serve the body of Christ and prepare for the purpose God has intended my life to fulfill...They might say things to me like... "you are so smart, why didn't you want to do something purposeful with your life?" (this is emphasized so much better if you can hear the condescending tone in which it is always said : )-I don't let that kind of rubbish go and just ignore what they are saying to me, I state the biblical precepts that have nurtured the convictions I possess!  I convey how God has called me to be a wife and a mother and to further His kingdom on this earth, while embracing His role for women, and that, that was the place where my heart had nestled. I am often times told that I can have both a career and be a wife and mother.  But the thing that the world has a hard time grasping, is that I don't want to live my life in a way where I just raise my children to grow up and pursue their own worldly desires!  But to train them to live a life that is actively seeking ways to glorify God in every single thing that they do...a life where Christ is the center of the home, not worldly gain!  I am noticing more and more how subtle and tantalizing the lures of the enemy are!  Sometimes they come in the tiniest packages, while other days, they might scream in our faces.  It can be so hard to stand against the false teachings that are constantly beckoning us and whispering sweet, empty sentiments in our ears, but we must, by the grace of almighty God, resist them.  We cannot let our hearts be turned!  We cannot let temptations come into our lives that will deter us from doing the beautiful work that God has laid before our feet!  

So the conclusion I have come to is this:  I do not believe we should ever dishonor those who are older than us by taking on the attitude that we are going to teach them a thing or two.  However, false doctrine is false doctrine, no matter who is professing it! (to reiterate the advice a very good friend gave me)  We should be kind, gracious, respectful and honorable; but we cannot let others shove their false doctrines down our throats simply because we are young.  We need to constantly be burying our faces in the Word of God and wearing out our knees because of our faithfulness to pray to the majesty of Heaven and earth!  Then, we may proceed to proclaim the truth in a humble and reverential attitude.
 "...but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence."  (1 Peter 3:15)

So, I shall proclaim with Patrick Henry:

"Should I keep back my opinions through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country and an act of disloyalty towards the majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings." (and I have to just take this opportunity to say how difficult it is to properly convey the depths of my admiration for Patrick Henry)

It is hard, but I now possess a confidence that with the grace of God and an attitude of humility, I can stand firm for the truth contained in the Word of God without any fear of being dishonorable.

(p.s. All scripture quotations were taken from the NASB...actually, they were taken from my *new* NASB...the one my Mother surprised me with the other day!-- just so you know! ;)


Anonymous said...

Shelby, Once again another honest, thoughtful post - I think I am becoming "addicted" to your blog, atleast to the point that I enjoy reading each new article that you are posting! ;)
You bring up an interesting topic & a situation that I have been in many times. The verse that often comes to my mind is 1 Timothy 4:12; "Let no one look down on you because of your youth, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity." And 1 Peter 3:15; "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that is within you. But do this with gentleness and respect..."


Anonymous said...

One thing I have learned from watching my father *very* graciously debate others is to ask a lot of questions. Probing questions. Questions that lead. It can be dangerous, so it can be hard to keep a respectful attitude. And there is certainly a time and place for boldly speaking out the truth. But asking questions can be a useful tool! :)

Jean Marie said...

I'm thinking I would have loved to have read this 8 months ago!!!! :) But thank you for this.....

Shelby Courtney said...

Yeah, I have learned that it can be a really sticky thing to deal with. But better late then never... : )