You’ve probably gotten in a political argument in the recent past, whether with your nutso cousin at Thanksgiving or your militantly ignorant co-worker at a happy hour. And you’ll probably get in another political argument sometime in the near future. Hard as it may be to believe, you can actually win these arguments. Here’s how. READ MORE
Point One: Forget the Facts
A pastor said, “I know the theology, but you know…,” in reference to someone who walked away from God because of a violent situation. Facts in this situation can’t appease the emotional wound. However, that’s not what this point really talks about.
“People think emotionally, and they very often will have these gut moral intuitions that certain things are right or wrong,” said Matthew Feinberg, a psychologist at Stanford. The process of belief formation runs in the opposite direction than we’d hope: People “come to the conclusion first, and then the reasons they kind of pull out just to support their beliefs.”
It’s important in any faith to know what you believe, but also know what other people believe. Instead of pulling out facts and figures to support your beliefs, think like the person on the other side of your belief system, and learn about them. This will help in more intelligent conversations. The point this paragraph makes is fairly common in political debates: Who needs facts? People think emotionally.
Point Two: Let Your Opponent Hang Him or Herself
“This phenomenon is known as the “illusion of explanatory depth.” If you ask the average person to explain why they hold a given opinion, “They will come to realize the limitations of their own understanding,” said Frank C. Keil, a Yale University psychologist who studies intuitive beliefs and explanatory understanding.”
When Keli says, “They will come to realize the limitations of their own understanding,” I am reminded of this verse on the mysteries of faith:
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! – Romans 11:33
Got Questions says, “A “mystery” in the New Testament is something that had at one time been hidden but is now revealed to God’s people. Jesus told His disciples, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted” (Matthew 13:11, NASB). The apostle Paul often spoke of such “mysteries”: Jesus’ incarnation (1 Timothy 3:16), the indwelling of the Spirit (Colossians 1:26–27), the unity of the church (Ephesians 3:4–6), the rapture (1 Corinthians 15:51–52), and the gospel itself (Colossians 4:3). All these truths were “hidden” from the prophets of old but have been revealed plainly to us today. They are “mysteries” that are no longer mysterious to the child of God. “The mystery of faith” is the divinely revealed truth about grace, redemption, and forgiveness in Christ.”
It’s okay to say, “I don’t know. Let me check on that and get back to you.”
Point Three: Don’t be such a d***
Validate the person’s self-worth. Give them the freedom to believe what they will believe by keeping your tone under control and keeping your words respectful. Go overboard if in doubt by using emoticons in your words. Emoticons are like facial expressions in the face-to-face world. In this point, the person is talking about the tactical advantages of being nice in a political debate. From a Christian worldview, we need not practice what either the right or the left side of politics practices.
George Clooney said about Charelton Heston’s diagnoses with Alzheimers (From Breitbart):
Clooney tastelessly joked, “Charlton Heston announced ‘again’ today that he is suffering from Alzheimer’s.” The needlessly cruel quip was delivered at a National Board of Review film awards ceremony honoring the loudmouthed actor. When called on about the stupid comment, Clooney dismissed any opportunity to apologize. “I don’t care. Charlton Heston is the head of the National Rifle Association. He deserves whatever anyone says about him.”
CLOONEY: Yes, oh, yes. It was in poor taste. It was a funny joke. It was in a room of 100 people. Yeah, (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I have a lot of good friends who — in fact, I have a very good friend who is dying of Alzheimer’s. And it was just a funny joke.
Wishing someone dead, disrespecting them, or devaluing someone because you disagree with them is not how a Christian should act. Growing in faith is putting into action what we read in our Bible. We don’t need to react online in ways that disparage Christ’s name. People will get offended no matter how nice we are online. Anger is natural and should be temporary.
The rest of the points in the article can be summed up in this sentence: Practice the golden rule on others and argue understanding their moral frame work. While this excellent article makes good points on how to win an argument, I contend that Christians need to think more about helping people reconcile with Christ through a relationship. Debates are an end to a relationship and won’t bring change. A discussion enables two people to share opposite points of view and remain friends. With the relationship intact, you can share the Gospel with them while building trust.