Before you report me to Limbaugh or Hannity, hear me out. The other day I was riding with a good friend and he had the radio tuned to NPR. That’s not normally my speed but he suggested I give it a try. Said he didn’t agree with everything he heard on there but they had some good programs.
So the next day I switched my dial from conservative talk radio to NPR. They were having a debate on whether or not women should be allowed to serve in combat. The host (who spoke in the stereotypical soothing tones of public radio) moderated between two women veterans and one man recently retired from the Department of Defense.
The women took the position that women should be allowed in combat and this was a needed, long-overdue change. The man took exception, arguing that women could faithfully serve in other areas of the military but should not be on the front lines. Both made good points. Both strongly disagreed with the other’s points. And both presented their case passionatly. But there was no interrupting, no name-calling, no shouting down and no-belittling.
The debate was so amiable that I started suspecting the host was muting the others while one was talking. He wasn’t. They were just patiently waiting their turn to speak. Hearing the other side out before presenting their rebuttal. Although they had some intense disagreement, they maintained enough respect for the other side to at least allow them to finish their sentences.
It was refreshing. I could actually listen to the debate, decide which side presented the most logical argument and make my own decision. And so could my daughter who happened to be listening as well. I didn’t even know she was paying attention until she spoke up and told me the man was making more sense so she agreed with him.
What? My 9-year-old is weighing in on the women in combat debate? Perhaps it’s because she could actually hear both sides without the host interjecting and interrupting. Now I know that NPR leans to the left and there’s bias in all news, but I wish more debates could go this way. Present your case, be quiet and listen to your opponent’s rebuttal, further clarify your points and then let the listener decide.
Christians could probably benefit from such an approach. To quote Andy Stanley, “We should never give away influence unnecessarily.” When we shout down our opponents, vilify them on social media or resort to name-calling and personal-attacks we give away our influence. We win the argument but lose the person. Scripture dictates a different approach. It tells us to “always be prepared to give an answer” but to do so “with gentleness and respect” (1st Peter 3:15).