Recently, I've been in on some interesting blog discussions. Doesn't that just ooze credibility and scholarship?
These discussions were totally unrelated to one another, but I must say that both were good for my personal growth. One was a debate of the parenting methods of Michael & Debi Pearl, who I now know have a rather large following, not unlike the Ezzos. Because of this one I got to read up on things like Hermeneutics 101, and Debate 101, and I actually paid money to read the Pearls' child training book (maybe like 3 halfway-decent suggestions but, in my opinion, mostly performance-based drivel and some...um...unconventional theology, let's call it).
The other was a discussion of whether or not Christians should go to the weddings of their gay friends. This one is a tricky question, but to me it really boils down to issues of conscience, whether or not you agree with gay marriage, and how that manifests itself with your beliefs on wedding attendance. I think I'd probably go, but then again if for some reason I felt God was telling me not to, I'd send my love and stay home. If they were good enough friends to invite me to their wedding, I should hope they would understand.
Now obviously I can't condense the facets & aspects & intricacies of these discussions enough to do them justice, so instead I will provide a sweepingly-general nutshell synopsis of each.
Regarding the Pearls' parenting methods: "I disagree with their methods and I'm not comfortable with their theology. I think they're wonderful, and people need to stop persecuting them! Disagreement is not the same as persecution! Yes it is! No it's not! My kids are awesomer than your kids! No mine are awesomer! You guys suck."
Regarding gay weddings: "I think it's OK to go 'cuz you can love someone and still disagree with them. I think it's OK 'cuz there shouldn't be a problem with gay weddings. I think it's not OK--to attend is to condone, and oh by the way all the homosexuals are going to hell. No they're not! Yes they are! No they're not! Yes they are! You guys suck."
Yeah, a little emotional, these two topics. On that front I grew weary quickly. Most people don't know how to debate & discuss. They make sure to get their opinion in there quickly and forcefully, but then when someone presents an different one they get all freaked out and feel personally threatened (um, this includes me, by the way). So things escalate, and tempers get out of control, and it's not pretty. Discussion is so much more productive when we can be a little more objective, and even academic about it...but then can you really separate your emotions completely from such sensitive topics as parenting and marriage? I don't think so. The trick is being free to feel your feelings without trouncing on someone else's.
The horrible part to me was seeing that, among a very diverse sampling of beliefs, the worst-behaved were the Christians, and those who would probably count themselves as the more conservative (ie, best?) Christians, at that. Where are we getting our license to verbally abuse people and call it speaking the truth in love? Seriously, a lot of the "sharing love, ideas, and/or the gospel" was more like "seething shame and judgement, but if you change your mind and start agreeing with me right now I'll be nice and sunny with you." Horrendous.
I'm pretty sure all (five) of you reading this do not go into hate-mode when discussing sensitive things, but for the benefit of the emotionally stunted who might find their way here someday, I would like to share some discussion tips I've picked up along the way:
1) People are allowed to believe whatever they want. Even if they believe that the sun is actually a giant orange and that traffic lights are run by tiny little men inside riding stationary bikes and running on hampster wheels. Doesn't matter if you agree. Doesn't matter if they're wrong. Doesn't matter if you crack open a "Don't Walk" sign and show them the wires and bulbs. If they are intent on trying to juice the sunrise, that is their prerogative.
2) Increasing your volume does not make you more credible or convincing. It just makes you louder, or MORE CAPITALIZED, whichever the case may be.
3) Sharing your personal experiences is fine. Expecting people to validate you by copy-catting your personal experiences is not. "Be a clone of me!!" is just not a healthy argument.
4) Diagnosing the state of people's hearts and minds based solely on blog comments is silly. And obnoxious. And judgmental.
5) Even if you're right, an angry diatribe based on scripture is not the same as speaking the truth in love. Mrs. T once described speaking the truth in love as talking to someone the same way you'd talk to your favorite aunt or grandma (or some other favorite person, if you have extensive family issues). Mrs. T is purple-haired wisdom personified.
6) If someone chooses to do things differently than you, it doesn't necessarily mean they think you're wrong. Or if they do, it doesn't mean you actually are wrong. I mean, maybe you are, but hey if you think you'll get some OJ out of the sun's rays go for it. But I think the little men in the traffic signals already drank it.
7) Including the words "should," "have to," and "must" is a good way to get me to dig in my heels, and then turn on them & run the other way. Probably other people, too. Simply put, you're not the boss of me.
Those are the biggies that come to mind. Feel free to chime in with your own. But you should know that my kid is awesomer than yours, and that you suck.