Thursday, June 14, 2012

Speak It with Love


You've all seen them. Facebook Debates. The rumble in the combox. The deathmatch at the blogosphere. It usually goes a little something like this:

Somebody posts a Facebook status about some moral or theological statement, and then, pardon the pun, all hell breaks loose. Furious debating back and forth, back and forth. You start reading the thread because you're bored. Or procrastinating. Or possibly genuinely interested at the topic. Then it happens... you read something someone said that just wasn't quite right and you're all like:
What did he just say???

So you jump in. You're not gonna let crap like that slide. Oh no. Oh, no. You're really pleased with your incredibly witty, sophisticated, intelligent, in short, perfect, rebuttal. That'll shut him up, you say.
But then.... that little red notification bubble appears. "HE" commented back. You go to read, thinking wonder what this chump came up with. And you find this:
I HATE EVERYTHING YOU JUST SAID BECAUSE YOU'RE WRONG. HERE'S SOME MORE STUFF ABOUT HOW RIGHT I AM!!!!!!!!!!

So then you're like:
Oh it is ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You say all kinds of amazingly brilliant things that no one could possible refute but "he" just won't give up! And now you're not alone. Commentators from before have rejoined the debate, some on your side, some on "his" side. Then out of nowhere, this guy jumps in:
Ahhhhh, You! Person A - you're wrong about the elephants!! They don't have hooves, they have large, flabby feet with toes!!! And You! Person B - you're wrong about the elephants too! Their trunks serve as both nose AND upper lip!! And you! Person C - don't even get me started with that comment about the elephant scales. Dude. Scales?! I CAN'T EVEN HANDLE HOW WRONG YOU ALL ARE! 

So now the anger vibe is really flowing. It's a no-holds-barred match, and with every contender safely hidden behind their computer screens, somehow they all feel comfortable enough to throw all kinds of cruel and hurtful insults around like candy at a parade. Before you know it, someone's feelings get hurt and they're all like:
Me no likey that comment. That man NOT nice. Waaaaaahhhhhhhh!

So then someone steps in and is all like:
Alright, break it up, break it up!! Let's just agree to disagree okay?

But at this point, you're still pretty worked up. Who is this guy and why does he have the right to break up my fight before we've finished with me as the clear winner? Sheesh! So you dust yourself off a bit before diving back into the trench, but resolve to be a bit more civilized this time. Not like the other guys. They're raging barbarians, clearly uneducated and partially crazed no doubt. Heartless and bloodthirsty. You picture them looking pretty much like this:
I will eat your soul and kill all your words!!!!!!!!

Meanwhile, you are refined and the sheer definition of intellect and self-restraint. You picture yourself more or less like this:
I am smart, classy and well-dressed. I pretty much know everything.

So how much longer does the brawl go on for? It varies. Sometimes you just grow weary and fizzle out, quietly slipping away from the melee, hoping not to be noticed whilst other debators rage on. Sometimes you're in it for the long haul, determined to be the last typist typing. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Either way, most times you still convince yourself that you won in some way and those other guys are off their rockers. You kind of feel sorry for them and their wayward ways. If only you could civilize them. 
Tsk, 'tis a shame.

Both sides walk away with fatigued fingers, minds still racing, but hearts... unchanged. 

***

The fact is, people's hearts don't change over Facebook debates. No matter how smart, how well-researched, how perfect your answers may be, it doesn't matter. It's not what changes hearts. Love does. And more specifically, Divine Love.
 I'm not saying we aren't called to share Gospel truths with our friends and relatives when the opportunity arises. But we should be engaging in these conversations from a place of love, humility, and discernment. I know how easy it is to get riled up over something you hold near and dear to your heart. I know how fiery the passion can burn and how urgent the need to defend your beliefs can feel. I know. I've been there. But at the end of the day, what matters more to a person is not what was said to them, but how it was said to them. 

Speak the truth! Yes. But speak it with love. 
Jesus said, "By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:35 He didn't say "if you outsmart one another" or "if you out-research one another". I write this post, advising myself just as much as you, dear readers. Let us spread and defend the truth always, as fiercely as we would defend Jesus our Lord, for he also said "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life." John 14:6 Therefore to defend truth, is to defend Jesus. 

But let us defend Him with all grace and virtue. When Simon Peter cut off the ear of Malchus, the high priest's servant, in the Garden of Gethsemane, he did so with good intention - to defend his Lord. But we know that Jesus admonished him, and bid him to put his sword away. 

Sometimes I am like Simon Peter in the garden - fiery and ready to rage at anyone who speaks against Truth. Righteous anger is understandable, but we cannot unleash fury onto other human beings - other creations whom God loves infinitely and equally as He does you. Above all, we are called to love our neighbors. Above preaching, instructing, correcting - which are all necessary at times as well, but which should never trump our mission to love.

So next time I see that lively debate happening on Facebook about this topic or that, I may or may not jump in. But if I do, I pray I will truly keep my eyes on Christ and attempt share the Truth, only through the lens of Love.


4 comments:

  1. This was GREAT to read! I have definitely been in those conversations/debates before... lol AMEN to your last paragraph. :)

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  2. Amen, sister! I try to stay away from those. Facebook is not the place to "evangelize", I know too many people that have been turned off from the Church by those debates, because it us hard to sound loving online.

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  3. Ok I happened here for a reason today. As someone who meant to harm no foul in posting an article about the whole shades of grey thing from Teresa tomeo and then ended up deleting the darn thing b/c of the mudslinging, this post was just what I needed to hear. And I believe you, so I won't make this mistake anymore. Too much of a double standard out there in fb land.

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