“When I kept silent, my bones grew old Through my groaning all the day long. 4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;…
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” And You forgave the iniquity of my sin.” Psalm 32: 3, 5b
You can usually tell when you – or anyone else – is on the wrong side of an issue. First, there’s the vehemence with which they state their position and attack their opposition. Recall William Shakespeare’s observation that “Methinks the lady doth protest too much.”
Second, we squirm. Intellectually and sometimes even literally as if a little “body English” will straighten out an argument we know we shouldn’t be making. We squirm.
A former theatre colleague from my days in Detroit friended me on Facebook. I started seeing his posts about this and that. He’s of a liberal bent, so I don’t always agree with him, but he posts a lot of nice, inspirational items. He recently went on a bit of a tirade against the Roman Catholic Church, as he watched an interview with a cardinal. He was trying to defend something that clearly goes against God’s Word, but his argument was poor and his logic was tortured.
I knew I could pick it apart and try to explain things to him. Having studied logic and debate in college, I recalled how one could take an argument, reduce each item of the syllogisms to a symbol and essentially create a math formula to see what equaled what, to see if the argument made sense. But, again, I doubt he’d listen to me. And I think I’d probably just set him off worse.
Then I had a blinding glimpse of the obvious. Let him have it out with God. Have him set himself against the Final Author and Arbiter over what is wrong or right. Otherwise, I would just have made myself another ill-chosen target for him to struggle against.
Aside from the fact that I’m lousy at math, I knew it would be very difficult to dissuade him of his errors. I also needed to keep it from getting personal between us. So I referred him to God. I posted the following to his piece on the Catholics:
“After giving these posts some thoughts, I realized what it really is I want to express to you. And let me start it with some words from Mother Theresa: “…in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.” You see, you are arguing with the Roman Catholic church. They are not the ones who finally determine what is right and wrong. Who is going to hell and who isn’t. That is solely the purview of God. Much as we like to say “My house, my rules,” so God rightly says “My creation, My rules.” Only God’s Word matters on what is acceptable and what isn’t. God gives us His Word in the bible.
I often use http://www.biblegateway.com/ to search out as many pieces of scripture as I can on an issue before trying to decide what God is saying and whether I am aligned with His will. Choosing just one passage is never enough, because “scripture interprets scripture,” as is taught in seminary. And just reading that passage by itself is not enough – read all around it for context. One might even read a commentary on the book of the bible being read to understand the reason for writing it. St. Paul’s reasons for his different epistles are particularly important to understanding them. I would encourage disengaging from measuring yourself against one church or another, whether favorable or unfavorable to your viewpoint. Instead, measure your position against God’s.”
He made no more posts on that issue. Neither he nor his friends. I don’t know if anyone cared what I wrote or did anything with it. I know he unfriended me shortly after. But, then, I need to remind myself yet again, “…in the end, it is between (me) and God. It was never between (me) and them anyway.”