I Came Here for an Argument

This video will explain why I turned off the comments mechanism on this blog:

Great humor often contains insights into serious issues. What is the difference between an argument and mere contradiction or abuse? And what motivates us to respect some arguments, while blocking out the possibility that others might be legitimate?

We may resort to bare contradiction when it’s too frightening to face new interpretations of a text that once seemed clear to us. Refusal to engage with the argument can be a way of denying that there could be other possibilities. Sadly, it also bypasses an opportunity for self-knowledge.

As long as we pretend that there is only one possible viewpoint, we don’t have to examine the desires, fears, vanities, or misunderstandings that spur us to cling to that viewpoint. Nor do we confront the power imbalance between us and the questioners–the privilege that puts us in a position to interpret their lives in the first place, rather than the other way around.

Abuse takes this strategy a step farther. Because ours is the only possible interpretation, anyone who disagrees must be disobedient or perverted. Our own anger (or revulsion, or fear of losing something special to us) becomes objectified, masked by the authority of the text. It is not a personal feeling for which we must take responsibility, whereas the other side has only selfish personal feelings.

Before we as Christians can conduct a fruitful and faithful discussion about issues on which we disagree, we must be honest with ourselves and one another about the passions behind those issues, and consider which emotions are the most appropriate guides to choosing between one interpretation and another. Perfect love casts out fear.