Facebook Debate – Can There be Such a Thing?

I know that Facebook is not the place for civil debate (as realized by some postings I also posted on the 20th on my page), but I tried to address some fallacies.  I just hope that I did so with respect.  Below in the transcript of the debate.  Names have been changed (except mine) out of respect and none of the language has been changed; all of the typos and swears are also untouched – I did not want any accusations of tampering with what was written.    Also note that the individual deemed ‘Facebook Friend’ is on a speech and debate team – so that is what gave me the original prompting to address his claim. Some questions to follow after the transcript.

Facebook Friend: “I can’t stand when people claim to be a member of whatever faith they choose to be and instantly turn around and prosecute against gays or lesbians. Being Christ-like MEANS to accept and love anyone REGARDLESS of what they choose to do in their lives. I can’t honestly believe that we have a God that will not love or support all of his children regardless of what they choose to do in their life”

Commenter # 1: “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Commenter #2: It seems to me they are taking the word of the bible over the teachings of Christ.

Me: Facebook friend, it’s time to test your debate skills, logic, and theology. There are 3 wrong premises in your statement. I am bringing these up to you not as accusations, but because I desire you to see that logic and Faith (even if we don’t share… the same one) are comparable – you know me well enough to know that I don’t instantly turn around and attack anyone. Ok, one more thing before I point out some things (I would love a rebuttal too). Commenter #1- that is so true! It is a shame that hypocrisy does run rampant. We are human, and fortunately forgiven but sometimes (scratch that – most, if not all of the time) we do not live up to the standard we preach. That however does not make the standard false, it just make the people who preach it less credible. Sigh, if it were not so true. I have been guilty of that far too often.  Commenter #2- The Bible is the teaching of Christ. Every part of it. It is the whole testament. One cannot pick and choose what they like to hear and not the rest.

Sorry to keep rambling but here are the errors I see:
(1) “Being Christ-like means to accept and love anyone regardless of what they choose to do in their lives”. Being Christ like means to be like Christ. I know that seems to be a tautology but here me out. What did Christ do? He healed, he taught, he rebuked, he drove out thieves in the temple, he asked for repentance, but the one thing he did not do was tolerate. Many times He said “Go, and sin no more’ but He never said anything close to “Choose what you want to do in your lives, it’s all good”. If people are supposed to be Christ like that is what they ought to do: to speak the truth in love as Ephesians 4: 14-15 says.
(2) “I can’t honestly believe […]” I’ll address the rest of that sentence soon. Let’s just look at the logic of that. If I say “I can’t believe that my car won’t work regardless of it’s lack of engine” and truly believe it, will it change the fact that I am wrong? My point here is that a personal belief must be grounded in something. I could believe that the sky is green, but I would be wrong. I could believe that CWI will win the national championship in speech and debate, but that belief alone will not change the fact that it will take hard work to beat strong teams like the College of Idaho or Boise State. A statement is not true or false because we want it to be so.
(3) ” I can’t honestly believe that we have a God that will not love or support all of his children regardless of what they choose to do in their life” Ok, now let’s look at that whole statement. I’ll address this with a metaphor. If our own fathers let us do whatever we wanted to do in our lives then we would have never gotten punished if we stole a cookie from the jar, pilfered money from our siblings, or disobeyed him. If our Earthly father would love us so much not to let us get away with these things, how much more is the creator of the Universe likely to love us more and want us to be more. God does not let sin go unpunished – just look at the Old-testament. However, even though his chosen people rebelled and sinned against Him he still loved them and supported them although He punished them. In the same way we cannot disavow God’s existence because we don’t get the approval we want. In fact it is the reverse; it is because there is accountability, even in the natural course of things, that proves there is a moral law. From that moral law – a moral law-giver.

Well, that’s what I have to say. As always, feel free to debate me.
Your friend,
Ben

Commenter #2: Benjamin, even though the fuckwads with the same “tolerance” of Christ who bullied these kids to the point where suicide was the only way out, how can you justify the hate? Don’t attempt to disprove its existance.

Commenter #1: Interesting, Benjamin, that you make a statement like “You can’t pick and choose what you like to hear,” and then proceed to cherrypick Leviticus 18:22, seemingly stating that LGBT bullying is merely God’s way of punishing sinners. Are you wearing a cotton/polyester blend shirt? Have you eaten shellfish? Have you played football (skin of a pig)? Do you object to me selling my daughter as sanctioned in Exodus?

Facebook Friend: So, Ben, the fact that I have been attracted to men since I was born is a choice I made? Wouldn’t have been a choice that God made? He is, after all, the creator of DNA. And my DNA just happens to be finely tuned to the hormone rather than …the pheromone. With the fact that I was hitting on boys in preschool, how does your argument stand? Christ not tolerating???? I am going to follow this with a WTF! READ Micah 6: 1-2, 8. Then think about your last comments and see if they are going against the toleration that Christ teaches. Christ accepted all of Gods children, not just who he chose. If he would reject his brothers based upon bad choices, and since Jesus was basically an incarnation of God in a “Son” form, then would God not be false for rejecting his creation? Can a perfect being not do this? According to the Christian interpretation of God he cannot. He is not capable of doing so. Perfection is necessary for Godliness.

If someone is saying their car won’t work due to its lack of engine… well, that person is an oxymoron. End of this particular refutation.

In your second point, I believe you are referring to faith. Sure you talk about belief with the engine, but you then quickly transfer into the idea of faith. And, sorry for the blunt statement, can you really have belief in something if you don’t fully understand its dialogue? Because this dialogue is what creates your faith. Since the dialogue being used here is Christian scripture is your faith based on an untrue God? I would suggest you go back and read the two chapters before and after the chapters you quoted above and see how accurate your interpretation is based upon this reading As Steven hit at, look at the entire picture, not just the fly that is warming itself on the glass pane.

In regards to your last point, a God who refuses to reveal himself to his children is doing so in an effort to not let us know who he is, this is if he exists. So how can a god punish us if we cannot see him? How can he punish us if we cannot interact with him? If what you states is true, then the fact that I stubbed my toe today is proof that God exists. And if this is true, then the fact that I have presents under my Christmas tree every Christmas morning is proof that Santa exists.

Me: First of all, thank you Facebook Friend for allowing a debate on your page about such a personal thing.  That shows great courage.  I hope with all my heart that you continually show the same courage at every tournament you attend. Feel free to challenge me at any time (on my page and in person).  Also, anyone else can friend me and have the same ability to argue with me on my page or even in person too.  Thank you again Facebook Friend.  Secondly, to make this completely clear; I in no way or form support those bullies and their violence that was done to the young men. I in no way or form support the ones who stood and let that evil happen. Those both are deplorable actions and I hope that the bullies are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Let me address the counter-arguments in the order they came in. Commenter #2:  I wish I could disprove the existence of hate.  I really do.  If only the metaphysical nature of evil could be removed by words we would live in a better place.  So much evil in this world has been caused by hate.  On the other hand, so much good in this world has been done by love.  I, of course, do not mean the Hollywood love but the love shown by great examples such as Martin Luther King Jr and Mother Teresa.  Those people who dedicated and gave their lives to stop injustice and hate showed the tolerance of Christ. In Calcutta did Mother Teresa agree with the Hindu cast system?  Of course not!  She fought that belief that the society put on the ‘untouchables’, but she also fought the belief that those she ministered put on themselves too.  Dr King fought for equality not just for equal rights but to also tell the other African Americans (and everyone else) that they are more than just color but are made special in the eyes of God – therefore endowed with certain unalienable rights.  I personally cannot argue for the case of hate, but I can feel the greatest sorrow for those young men who went through something I cannot imagine.  I cannot justify the hate.  It was wrong, and it hurt those young men.  It also devastated the victims of suicide – their friends and family. Commenter #1: I know it is not Facebook Friend’s statement.  It’s the simple rule of argument that “He who asserts must prove”.  Hold me to that same standard as well.  On to your other point.  Yes, I did not bring that verse up.  Thank you for bringing the law contained in Leviticus into this forum (thank you again Facebook friend).  I could argue hermeneutics but let’s look at the function of the law – of which I have transgressed many times.  Why is there law?  To show us a line in the sand, to show us what the standards are.  Leviticus was part of the Old Testament (and I do not mean just the first half of the Bible).  It was the first covenant, and contained the law.  Now, because of Christ who fulfilled the Law, we have a New Testament/New convenient. [Galatians 3: 21-23]  I am guilty as the rest of the world.  I have done horrible things.  I could never keep the Old Testament law  – and that is why it was given to the world, to show that we could never keep it.  The whole of Scripture is the story of mercy – we can’t have mercy unless we needed it.

Facebook Friend, I hope you don’t mind these refutations I am about to give.  I pray that they are not too harsh but the implications that I see scare me.  Let me explain why… On your point against my first point you state that DNA drives you.  Let me say that if DNA drives our actions and behaviors we are nothing more that a automation.  In essence if I agree to your point that God created your DNA and it is your DNA that drives your desires then the only conclusion that can be brought from that is that no one has free will!  God just sets us up and let’s us run our course with no choice in the matter.  My DNA is overpowering my free will. Let try and state this another way, if your DNA drives you to your actions then the bullies that mercilessly taunted the young homosexual men are also driven by their DNA and thus are not accountable for their actions.  It is their DNA that should be punished not them – and that’s just absurd.  On your next point against my first point (yes, that is confusing but that’s debate) you bring up God’s tolerance again.  Let’s look at that passage you quoted, but the whole passage. Micah 6: 9-16 demonstrates God’s wrath against the wicked.  Let me try another approach here as well.  You are a multi-faceted person, I am a multi-faceted person; we both have dreams, aspirations, desires, things we like, things we hate, foods we like, foods we would rather not touch.  If someone said of me that I was only one attribute over the others (let us say my love for chili on a cold night) it does not give the true picture of who I am.  In the same way if we only see Christ’s great love but not his authority then his love is meaningless.   Christ followed the law, perfectly I might add, so that he would be the sacrifice for our rebellion against God.  It is through Christ’s perfection (holiness) that God’s wrath was satisfied.    Both of your points did not address what or how a Christian ought to act, so I think we are in agreement that a Christian should act Christ-like.

On my second point, perhaps you missed what I said.  I do apologize for not being clear, I was just pointing out that wishful thinking does not affect truth values.  An individual cannot change the laws of the universe, logic, or morality simply because they want to believe otherwise.  Wishful thinking is not Faith.

On the third point, I also think you missed my point here but first let me see if I get your argument: you state that the invisible nature of God disproves his existence.  I hope I got that correct.  Although that does not address the argument I gave about fathers and them not letting us get away with everything we want let me rejoinder what you said.  Can I prove that magnetism exists?  I don’t see it, I only see it’s effects.  Can I prove that love exists?  That is something I cannot touch, taste, or small but I see it’s effects.  Just because God seems to hide does not make Him non-existent.  Let’s try an example if I deleted my Facebook account and everything on it.  Then somehow erased every scrap of data that Facebook had gathered on me would I cease to exist?  Of course not.  You can’t see me type this up, but you trust that it is me (and not some genius).  My point here is thus, we see the effects of God in nature, natural law, and in the workings that He does.

Your friend,

Ben

Commenter #2: I am NOT saying it was the hate that caused the harm. Hate and ignorance drove the bullies, whose tolerance IDENTICAL to that of Christ made them harmful. And I quote YOU:  “…but the one thing he did not do was tolerate. Many times He said “…Go, and sin no more’ but He never said anything close to “Choose what you want to do in your lives, it’s all good”.

At that point on Facebook the conversation went to Red Herrings about NPR shows.  I asked at that point if I could post this and also agreed to share this comment.

Commenter #2: On that blog let it be known that I strongly believe your point of view is toxic.

So here are some questions for the wide world:

Did I show respect in the discussion or was I metaphorically ‘eating pork-rinds in front of a Muslim on Ramadan?

Should I have gone a different approach?

Where was all the hate coming from?

Finally why is it that people spout obvious fallacies and do not defend them?  Do I do that in my life?

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3 comments

  1. I think you did a good job defending your point of view without being obnoxious, it seems like the problem was they didn’t like that point of view. They probably liked it even less because you WERE being curtious–it would be easier to justifiably hate your hatred if you were actually being hateful.

    Gah, these discussions so often make me sad and ill-feeling 😦

  2. Thanks Brooke,

    It’s always good to hear that I was not obnoxious. I do like good discussions/debates (as I am prone to on Facebook, as of late) but sometimes I get worn out and need encouragement.

    I have to admit I did feel ill at some points during the debate I posted (and some as well on Facebook).

    1. I felt the same ill feelings. The debates/discussions were exhausting, and we weren’t even talking in person!
      I think it’s possible to raise important questions like this on facebook and I believe it challenges us as Christians to be transparent no matter where we are or what we’re doing, even if that’s just using facebook.

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