It’s been far too long since we’ve met for a cup of coffee (or tea) in our virtual coffee corner! If you’re new to the blog, welcome! Every so often I like to host a little “coffee chat” to discuss some question or other. This one is long overdue! As always, it’s important to keep the discussion civil—any ad hominem attacks will be deleted without apology.
So grab a cup of joe (or a mug of hot cocoa) and join in the discussion!
For today’s coffee chat, I want to hear your thoughts on the following verses:
Answer not a fool according to his folly,
lest you be like him yourself.
Answer a fool according to his folly,
lest he be wise in his own eyes.
~ Proverbs 26:4-5, ESV (emphasis mine)
In our post-modern society, most discussions take place via the internet (like this one). Facebook, blog posts, and news comments are breeding grounds for vitriol—“you’re a bigot! You’re ignorant. You’re racist. You’re a sheep! You’re uneducated.”
“Blah blah blah (insult) yak yak yak (attack).”
Listening to some people duel with their keyboards is akin to listening to two children bickering on the playground. What’s worse, those attacks are often made by self-proclaimed “intelligent” people.
When I was in college, I had a Political Science professor who had mastered the art of whipping people into frenzied debate. I rarely entered these classroom discussions because they resembled current Facebook threads before Facebook even existed. As much as I burned to dive in and correct some misapprehensions, I’d stay out of it. I knew there was no persuading the other side. (The two sides weren’t listening to each other anyway). Besides, it was helpful to listen to both sides and find the problems with each. The professor allowed the bloodbath to rage, only occasionally stepping in. Meanwhile, he leaned on his desk at the head of the classroom, smirking like some impish greek deity looking down on the antics of mere mortals. Every so often he’d catch me watching him and give me a wink as if to say, “Isn’t this funny?” I suppose it was. And yet, it disturbed me to see how misguided people were and I felt uneasy about keeping my mouth shut. But again, what was the point of debating such chaotically emotional people?
Christians online say some truly shocking things as well. You can’t beat someone over the head with a bible, and using bible verses to persuade someone who doesn’t believe in the authority of the Bible is counterproductive. Oh, and one more thing—just because something is typed, not spoken, doesn’t mean God is going to overlook the viciousness or intent of those statements.
Oh be careful little hands what you type…
What’s a person to do????
Going back to our passage, what does the Proverb writer mean? Do we answer the fool or not? It almost sounds contradictory.
Are we to engage fools in order to turn them from destruction or are we simply becoming like them when we enter the fray? Which is it????
Is the Proverb writer indirectly encouraging us to use discernment as to when to engage or walk away?