The Addiction of Controversy

Squinted eyesWe humans love controversy. Just look at any major event in history regarding an “iffy” issue. Everyone is quick to pick a side and proclaim their ideas louder and better than the other side. Comments turn into debates, debates turn into arguments, and arguments turn into fights, which eventually cause pain for everyone involved. It’s just not wise to indulge in an addiction to controversy. Yes, we must give a reason for the hope we have within us. But if we do this through pride, we will only dishonor that hope we claim to love.

Little Kids

As selfish beings, we gravitate towards pride in all circumstances. We love to look at others down our nose and make them realize as much as possible that we have the upper hand. We love to think that we rule the world; and this necessitates that we remove God from the picture. After all, He’s the greatest threat to our “sovereignty.”

“All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?” – Daniel 4:35

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.” – God (Job 38:4)

“Who has first given to me, that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine.” – God (Job 41:11)

God is all-powerful and sovereign. It’s a fact we cannot get away from. And yet we still try to ignore and deny it. Part of this terrible pride manifests itself as a burning, passionate desire to be right. It’s the age-old story of two little kids fighting.

“My friend said he can throw a baseball over his house.” “No he can’t! I don’t believe you.” “Yes he can!” “No he can’t!”

Regardless of how insignificant, useless, or silly this argument is, the chances are good that these two little kids will continue arguing until someone has their feelings hurt. Why? For pride. For self. It’s the same reason we get so easily addicted to the heat of controversy. We want to feel superior to people of differing opinions. Have you felt this desire? I know I have. The first year I was saved, I spent a lot of time researching Christianity and the reasons and evidence behind it. I wanted to know why I believed what I believed. During this process, I came across a lot of people online involved in “comment debates” (many of which I participated in) over different issues. Some people genuinely wanted to show Christ to others, but most just wanted to make the other person feel horrible. It was like a massive fight between really smart-sounding 4 year olds. In other words, it was pathetic. There was so much pride and so little truth. Even many of the “Christians” were being jerks. After a while, I realized that I was getting drawn into it myself, and that it was of little use trying to argue about these things on the internet with people who were only interested in being right, not actually having a conversation and finding the truth. I stopped, and so much peace came over me as a result.

Surrendering (to God)

This useless cycle of anger and hate is what destroys a lot of Christians today. We must reject it. We must abandon our selfish, prideful desire to be right, and humble ourselves before God. We must acknowledge that loving our neighbor is more important than winning the argument.

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

“But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.” – Titus 3:9

Arguing over touchy subjects out of a prideful heart accomplishes nothing. It’s worthless. It will only produce hurt. That’s why we are to avoid it. However, keep in mind that this is not to say it’s sinful to debate a non-Christian or discuss different opinions with people.

“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” – 1 Peter 3:15

We should be ready to answer anyone who asks us why we believe what we believe, but we should be careful to be gentle and respectful. This is vital. We often forget this part of the equation. We feel that it is right to stand up for (what we see as) the truth, but when our pride takes over we neglect to do this in a way that honors the other person. Our glory becomes more important than God’s glory.

When the word of truth is handled correctly, however (2 Tim 2:15), it can make all the difference. A conversation with an unbeliever about creation vs evolution can spark within them a new (Holy Spirit induced) desire to read the Bible. A debate with a fellow Christian over free will and predestination can lead to amazing growth on both sides. The key is love and humility.

“So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” – 2 Timothy 2:22-26

Incredible work for the kingdom of God can be accomplished through a gentle, careful, loving disagreement. We just need to keep a close check on our pride, pray continually for peace and love, and make it our goal not to glorify ourselves but to help the other person.

Nothing useful for the kingdom of God will ever come from a prideful heart. God is not mocked. If we sow the sin of pride in our conversations, we will reap death. Don’t allow yourself to be deceived into thinking that “it’s ok to get prideful, because I’m defending the truth.” It is never ok to become prideful. When God says that He opposes the proud, he means it. No exceptions.

“Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished.” – Proverbs 16:5

Be assured, good Christian. Pride isn’t the answer in your arguments. Look instead to God for a humble, loving heart; a heart that does not wish evil on its enemy, but desires that they see the truth. Seek after a gentle, respectful, and patient spirit when confronting those opposed to your beliefs, and trust Christ with the outcome. Remember, you will never be able to change anyone. You are given the gift of acting as God’s hands and feet in this world, and if you tell God that you can do it on your own, do not be surprised when your efforts prove fruitless. Only through God’s omnipotent power will any have their eyes opened or their heart changed. We are to obey His commands to love others and trust Him to work all things out for His glory and our good.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

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