Aug 29, 2021

Proverbs and Civil Discourse

Dan Hawk posted the following on his Facebook page.

The Book of Proverbs, among other things, is concerned with commending and cultivating those practices that enable people to live in peace with God and with each other. Wise people enhance communal wellbeing. Stupid people ruin it.

Few things build up or tear down community more than the ways people talk to each other. The Sage, therefore, devotes considerable attention to the way stupid people and wise people express their opinions. Viewing today's polarized Christian speech through his eyes, we see a church awash in a tsunami of stupidity.

The Sage would insist that we can turn back the tide only by recognizing and rejecting stupid ways of speaking and intentionally practicing wise ones. So, here’s the Sages challenge to us, transposed into the cadence of an old Jeff Foxworthy routine:

"You might be a stupid speaker if”:

You don’t care about understanding an issue but only about expressing your opinion (18:2).
Your argument is hot with emotion but short on knowledge (19:2).
You are quick to express how someone has offended you (12:16).
You just spew your thoughts as they come to you (12:23; 15:2).
You feed on and applaud stupid arguments (15:14, 21).
You step on others while they’re speaking, rather than listening to what they’re saying (18:13).
You feel angrily secure in your opinion (14:16; 29:11).
You mock reasonable arguments (23:9).

On the other hand, “You might be a wise speaker if”:

You hold your tongue when stupid people are ranting (10:19).
You overlook insults and ad hominem attacks (11:12; 12:16; 19:11).
You try to bring healing rather than strife (12:18).
You resist ranting and keep a cool head (17:27).
You support your arguments with sound knowledge (15:2).
You value education (15:7; 16:23).
You are patient and don’t let anger get the best of you (14:29; 29:8).
You try to scale down strife and to bring calm (29:11).

We Christians can model civil discussion to a watching world. All it takes is for those who claim to take the Bible seriously to actually take the Bible seriously.

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