I can be a real jerk sometimes, no doubt about that. I apologize. There have been times when I have been downright and intentionally mean. I’m sorry. There is no excuse for that kind of attitude or behavior. I will do better.
I also seem like a real jerk sometimes, especially on social media. Even when I don’t intend do, I have been told that I can across as dismissive or condescending. I apologize. I will try to get better.
It’s no secret that we are living in tumultuous times. There are important issues being discussed and the stakes are high, not only for the church but also for the nation and the world. As anyone reading this already knows, I feel very strongly about some of these issues. Chances are, you do too.
Social media is not the ideal forum for discussing high-stakes, emotionally-charged topics. The impersonality, the lack of non-verbal context, and, at least for Twitter, the character limits all contribute to the volatility of these already-tense discussions. For some people, that is reason enough to avoid discussing sensitive issues at all on social media. I can certainly respect that perspective and approach, but it’s not for me. While I recognize the danger, I also realize that for better or for worse social media is where the conversation is happening and I think it’s important enough that I want to participate in it. Despite what the memes may say, I actually have seen minds changed (including my own) as a result of social media debate. If I didn’t believe the issues that I address were important, I wouldn’t spend the countless hours I do researching, posting, and debating about them.
It may surprise many of you who have never met me in person to learn this, but I actually struggle with people-pleasing tendencies. I actually hate the idea of anyone not liking me. I legitimately lose sleep over lost friendships, even ones that began and ended only on social media. I have learned, however, that some things are more important than being liked and I have decided that I will not sacrifice my conviction just to spare someone’s feelings. I actually work very, very hard to make sure that I attack ideas and not people. Sometimes I fail at that, thus, my apology above. I’ve learned, though, that some ideas are so much a part of who we are, that when they are attacked we feel like we are being attacked.
I do my homework, and I play to win. Like I said, the stakes are high. Additionally, I hate being wrong. Because of that, I work very, very hard to make sure that I’m right. Some of that is pride, obviously, and I’m working on that, but some of it is driven by my passionate belief that truth matters. I have actually changed my position on a number of issues over the past few years when I discovered that the position I had been defending was actually wrong. (Some of that was actually a result of social media debate).
I also try to be very intentional about what Ι say and how I say it. I labor over the precise wording of what I write. Because of that, few things irk me more than someone assuming I meant something other than what I said and misconstruing and misrepresenting me.
I welcome your challenges and your debates, but here’s the disclaimer: if you come to challenge me, you better be prepared. Like I said, I do my homework. If you want to challenge me, I will scrutinize your argument, your logic, and your facts, just as I hope you would mine. That’s how we grow. As the writer of Proverbs tells us, “Iron sharpens iron.” Well, when iron sharpens iron, sometimes sparks fly. That’s ok with me. But, if you don’t want to actually engage in meaningful debate, do me a favor and just keep scrolling. Save us all the time, energy, and frustration.
One other thing. I hesitate to even write this because I know it can be so easily misconstrued, but I think it needs to be said (and I’m actually certain that you agree with me in principle). Not every idea is valuable. Not every idea is respectable or worthy of consideration and debate. The idea that “tolerance” means that every idea is equally valuable is nonsense. There are some ideas that I will dismiss out of hand. You may think that’s rude, but that would make you a hypocrite because I know that there are also ideas that you will dismiss out of hand too.
Finally, and I want to make sure this is clear, even if I fundamentally disagree with you or even reject some of your ideas, I do not reject you. I will go toe-to-toe with you in debate but then I will share the table with you and help you move. Once again, I apologize for times that I have communicated anything other than that.