When is it OK to Argue?

photo credit: Food fight via photopin (license)
photo credit: Food fight via photopin (license)

This blog has never carried a controversial tone.  I have intentionally stayed away from topics that might generate a nasty comment thread and not because I am afraid of vigorous debate.  (Ok, I admit I’m not terribly thick-skinned, but I do have opinions and am not afraid to share them.)

I’d rather write words that will encourage or will motivate new theological thought.  I am thrilled that the most common comment on my blog is thought-provoking.  I would much rather promote deeper thought than provide a place for an argument.

Am I wimping out?  Is it ever ok to argue?

Blogs can be dangerous territory for writers.  Most Christian blogs I read do not contain disrespectful bickering.  Disagreements, yes, but they are generally stated fairly and reasonably.  (I’m sure there are examples of the opposite.  I just don’t spend much time on them.)

Some people argue because they find it entertaining.  They wrangle for the sake of wrangling.  Others are insecure, and they do their best to make their point with or without concern over polite interaction.  And there are those who are just certain that they are right, 100% correct.  Their minds will not be changed.  Of course, they cannot understand why no one else sees the issue with such clarity.

Which brings me back to the question I’ve been pondering:  Is it ever ok to argue? 

A quick search on the words “argue” and “quarrel” in my Bible software seemed a good place to start.  “Quarrel” is never used positively.  Proverbs 20:3 sums up the Bible’s teaching on quarreling:  “It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.”   Several other proverbs state a similar truth.  No one wants to be a fool.

Use of the word “argue” is more nuanced.  Many of its uses are of arguing a position as opposed to bickering out of self-interest.  For example, Acts 19;8 says that Paul was “arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God.”  Arguments can be heated, of course, and turn into quarrels, but to argue a position is not negative.  On the other hand, Philippians 2:14 give us the advice to “Do everything without complaining or arguing…”

Assuming that we can argue a position (Acts 19:8), we generate another important question.  What positions are worth arguing for (Phil. 2:14)?  In Christian circles this is where things get interesting.  One person’s to-die-for issue may be another’s whatever.   If we’re not careful, we can find ourselves quarreling and acting like fools.

I conclude that it is never wise to quarrel, and occasionally appropriate to argue a position.  Just make sure that it is a position worth arguing.

Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.  And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.”  2 Timothy 2:23-24

What do you think?  If you’re a blogger, do you have any particular advice?

4 thoughts on “When is it OK to Argue?

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  1. Good advice — I’m usually not confrontationaI but have engaged in a few foolish and stupid arguments. Almost always regret participating.

  2. To Judy, the blogger who encourages us – you are kind and gracious. The blogosphere needs more just like you!

    I’ve been on the receiving end of some difficult commentary by trolls recently. I have been repeating #turntheothercheek to myself a lot. I want to provoke thought among those reading my blog posts, but I do not want to fight with anyone.

  3. Larry, the grace of God sounds like a position well worth arguing. Actually, it’s hard to imagine anyone arguing with that. And, just to clarify, I don’t consider myself a quarreler:). Maybe the occasional argument….like everyone else. My study on the subject today, however, gives me a strategy to follow. All good! Thanks!

  4. Although I write many different articles, a few even controversial, I try to never argue my point. If we disagree, then we disagree. It’s my belief that the Word will work on the other person or me, even if we disagree.

    Now that I said that, I have one exception: grace. If a commenter disagrees with my position on grace, they will never make the last comment on my blog site. I will always make another comment. I went back and forth with one person for fifty plus times before the other person quit and then I added one last comment. No one will ever visit my site and think I have doubts about grace.

    As far as you being a quarreler, I just don’t see it for you. Maybe your husband knows a different side of you, but we only know you as Judy, the blogger who encourages us. Just be you.

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