Nary a day goes by that I don’t attempt to engage in debate. It’s one of my favorite past times. I have learned to gain an opinion on just about everything I can just for the sake of debate.
Yet, I have found that I have no reason for debate. The main reason I debate is to show off my skills, my knowledge, my arrogance. This is not how we are instructed to engage with one another.
Is God omnipotent? Is He outside of time? What does it mean to be the Trinity? Are we predestined, or do we have free will? Or, does this even matter?
To some extent, it is important to debate with one another in order to exchange ideas with each other and tackle difficult concepts, such as the Love vs. Wrath of God. But there is a very fine line between debating the content of God’s character and debating words.
In 2 Timothy, Paul gives stern warning against such talk. In verse 2:14, he says,
” Remind people of these things and solemnly charge them before the Lord not to wrangle over words. This is of no benefit; it just brings ruin on those who listen. 2:15 Make every effort to present yourself before God as a proven worker who does not need to be ashamed, teaching the message of truth accurately.”
Wordplay causes ruin among people, especially a church. When debate causes division, is it really worth it? Paul argues no. Teachers are to teach; they are to engage those who are confused with love, not with wrath or pride. In this way, God may grant those who have been led astray repentance and escape from the Enemy’s grasp. (2:23-26)
Remember who you are in Christ. You–we– are not made to be an arrogant, knowledgeable, skillful debater who can tear down an opponent in .72 seconds. Rather, we are to be lovers of God’s people, loving them as Christ loved us. Defeating an opponent out of pride is the work of the Enemy; we are instructed, rather, to lovingly steer our brother back towards Christ.
Proverbs 8:21 reminds us that the power of life and death rests in the tongue. In our words. In what we say to each other. Pride in our words leads to (spiritual) death: slavery to Satan. We ourselves must avoid this death, and we must, at all costs, not be proponents for the death of others.
Bottom line is, debate for the sake of debate is about as useful as wisdom teeth: it’s painful, unnecessary, and is in no way wise to keep.