A few years ago, I decided I will no longer debate with people. A conversation, yes. A debate, no, At the time, I was being asked to debate someone on a particular topic when I realized it would be a fruitless endeavor. I declined the invitation.
The history of debate began in ancient Greece, a culture not known for its great moral base. In Scripture, the few times the word “debate” is used it did not always create a favorable setting or outcome.
Most debate scenarios have two opponents already entrenched in their opinion with pre-packaged evidence to support their position. Debating rarely produces a life-changing revelation. A prime example is social media. When was the last time an online debate radically changed anyone’s mind? Debate processes information at a natural and biased level. It creates winners and losers based on human standards of evaluation. Debate is popular in academic and political arenas, but it does little to advance God’s Kingdom.
What we need more than another debate that digs an even deeper trench of opinion between opposing parties is the revelation of Jesus Christ. That should be the goal of all our encounters with people of an opposing opinion. Instead of debating people, I engage them personally as a valued person and I pray they would encounter the risen Lord in our interaction. When He makes His presence known, He puts to rest the need to debate or defend a position.
In my experience, the honor extended in these exchanges has produced new friends, not combatants of a differing opinion. In that environment, we can inquire about each other’s positions with mutual respect and honor. In those exchanges, both of us come away richer and more informed on the critical issues of life.