As Christians, we are often challenged on our beliefs, and we naturally want to defend our faith against the attacks we face from a modern worldview. It is important, however, that we learn how to debate in a way that acknowledges that every person was made in the image of God, and every person deserves to be treated with respect and kindness. How we debate is as important as what we debate.
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-20 (ESV)
Learn to Listen
The first skill to learn when debating is learning to listen. Often, we listen just close enough to find something we want to hear, then we tune out while formulating an answer in our minds. As James tells us, though, we should be good listeners first.
Listen not only to what the person is saying, but try to hear why they are taking this stance. Many of the issues being contested today are very personal. Perhaps the person you are talking to is speaking on a topic that is very close to their heart. By listening to not only what they are saying, but why, we can gain an appreciation for why this subject is so important to them.
Once we have this understanding, we can articulate a response that is sensitive to their opinion while still standing up for your own beliefs. An individual will be far more likely to hear your side of the story if they feel like you have truly heard them.
“Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.” Proverbs 10:19 (NIV)
Slow to Speak
In our eagerness to defend what is right, we often rush to give an answer. By quickly answering, we often say things we later wish we could take back. Grace should fill our speech. Each word spoken should be chosen to build up the person we are speaking to. By taking the time to carefully choose our words, we avoid the temptation to attack the person we’re talking to, rather than addressing their arguments.
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Slow to Anger
It’s understandable that we take our faith and the values we hold dear very seriously and personally. When we hear these truths being attacked, we are tempted to feel angry and to respond accordingly. However, it’s important that we examine our own hearts. Why are we debating? Is it to prove we are right and they are wrong? Is it because their words have made us angry? By keeping our anger in check, we can respond with the compassion that God has shown us.
It is important to remember that it will be difficult to change a person’s mind while displaying anger and frustration. By keeping a kind and respectful demeanor, the person you are speaking to will feel more inclined to listen to you.
Free Discussion Guide
PureFlix.com encourages you to defend your faith in a kind, compassionate way.Watch “God’s Not Dead 2” and reflect on how you can defend your faith. For more inspiration on living each day in the image of God, download the God’s Not Dead 2 Devotional.