rebelling against low expectations

What’s the difference between defending what’s right and pointlessly arguing?


OLIVIA WRITES: What’s the difference between standing up for what’s right and arguing or pointlessly debating? This is something that I have struggled with a lot, and I don’t want to have the reputation of someone who always wants to start an argument. But at the same time, I don’t like it when people swear or curse or say that anyone who doesn’t agree with them is “sheltered” or things like that. So what’s the fine line?

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  • “What does it profit man if he silences his opponent but loses that humble spirit in which God so delights?” I wouldn’t say anything unless it was an area where God is denied glory, and then I’d wait until I had organized my thoughts and could defend them. If you do start a discussion work hard to be clear and gracious.

  • Hi Olivia!

    I love what Okie Gal already said. If you ever debate anything about your Faith, then knowing enough and organizing your thoughts is key.

    My advice is to always ask these questions: Do I have anything to gain from this argument? & Will this glorify God?
    Truly, this draws the fine line in my opinion. So, how about we put up a scenario where a kid was being bullied. You could ask yourself, “Do I have anything to gain from standing up for this kid?”. Even if the kid has bullied you, you still have something to gain. It can be multiple things. It can be something as amazing as a new friendship, it could be the feeling that you did something right, it could be anything. It would just depend on the person thinking about it and all. Defending that kid would also glorify God. You helped your neighbor even though he was your enemy. Also, as for the kid’s bully or bullies, you wouldn’t have to use mean words against them for their rude behavior. Depending on your faith, perhaps you could use scripture or the Ten Commandments if you are Catholic. Whatever honors God. Does that make sense?

          • Off topic but speaking of how many there are of Baptists and what not, wouldn’t it be kind of cool to take a survey and see how many there are of all different religions. I do not know if that would spark anything bad or not but it would be pretty cool to know, right?

          • I think that would be really cool, just maybe set up the boundaries that no one is allowed to debate, because chances are that might not end well.

          • Hahahaha, I can’t believe you just mentioned it like a billion times without even telling her what it is… πŸ˜›

          • I’m bad about that, I assume that everyone on the Reb is on Revive, which they’re obviously not. XD That’s why I end up plugging for it so much. (Sam, I think you owe me more French Toast XD)

          • You’re so random. It is too funny. I have no idea what Revive is and also, the link you posted doesn’t work. For me anyways.

          • Revive is having technical problems currently, so if it’s not working that’s why. πŸ™‚

          • Oh really? Cool. I don’t know how it would turn out though. I’m sure everyone would be okay with it but there would have to be some really strict rules on it.

          • But I have had people debate against me about my Faith and though I love standing up for my Faith, I felt like bombs were being dropped on my head and it was just so rude in my opinion.

          • Well, I’m not saying that you’re all pests and what not, it’s just that I have had it happen on here and it was…hurtful.

          • Still, I believe that it would be safer for everyone if there was a “no debate” policy. Maybe you could even just close commenting. I have no idea.

          • Ok, I’m guessing this might have been me last November/December.
            If that’s what you’re referring to, I’m incredibly sorry that I offended or hurt you. I am sometimes a bit blunt: I say things clearly, but nicely, because people who know me know that I am a loving friend, and I’m not trying to attack them. Because you don’t know me personally, I think I perhaps should have “cushioned” my words so you could see that I wasn’t being nasty or unfriendly. I don’t think I did a very good job of that.
            Also, I didn’t know that it bothered you to discuss it.
            I do try to pick my battles and only discuss what matters. My motive was love. I believe that some of the differences between Catholicism and Protestantism are really important.
            I in no way intended to attack you personally, so I’m sad it came across that way.
            I won’t discuss anything like that with you again now that I know it upsets you.
            Is that ok?

          • Hi Heather,

            It doesn’t bother me to discuss my Faith. In fact, I wish I could discuss it more easily and more often. Unfortunately, this skill has not yet been tested in me. That was my first in-depth discussion about my Faith. However, debating about it is not the way that I wish to speak about my Faith.

            Please know that I never considered you to be a mean person in real life. I appreciate the fact that you explained to me what happened back then. Your explanation makes sense to me now and it has helped me to realize that your words weren’t meant to be rude or offending.

            (I hope this next thing doesn’t seem…weird.) If you would ever want to discuss our Faith’s again, in a non-debate mode, then I would be willing to discuss it with you.

            I’m sorry that I never brought it up to you directly. I realize that my indirect statements referring to our debate back in November-ish could have hurt you. I’m sorry if my words did hurt. I hope that maybe we could start over again. If that is okay with you. I understand if this is awkward or…just something else that I can’t think of right now.

          • No, I wasn’t hurt, just horrified that you had been hurt back then and I hadn’t realized!

            I’m glad you understand.

            It’s hard to find the line between “debating” and “discussing”, you know? Especially when you can’t hear each others’ tone of voice.

            I’ve been discussing some deep stuff with a friend on email, and we know each other very well, so we were able to just bat ideas back and forth, knowing that it was a discussion even if it looked like debating.

            I would certainly be happy to discuss it anytime!

          • I’m so glad that you weren’t hurt! I never meant those previous comments to be a jab towards you or anything like that. Just to let you know.

            Yes, I definitely agree. I guess talking about really touchy subjects on the internet is just not the ideal way to go. However, I do not understand how others can just go back and forth and not feel hurt or anything. Perhaps it is just me.

          • I’d actually previously done a little bit of research on Catholicism, and several other subjects, so I feel firm in what I believe and I know where the Bible verses are to back me up, so I actually enjoy a friendly discussion, especially about something important.
            I think there are quite a few other people like that on here (like Guitar with Arms). Every so often, someone nasty (who isn’t normally on the Rebelution) tries to debate, but I’ve found that all the regular Rebelutionaries are friendly and polite.
            I also enjoy having something to talk about with people on here because, despite our differences, we’re mostly quite similar in the important things.

          • I have never explored any other Faith too much except Mormonism. Probably half of my relatives are Mormon and the other half is Catholic. So, that is the big reason why I know a few things about Mormons.

          • Me neither until a couple of years ago. I don’t know much about Mormonism.
            Often looking at other faiths forces me to find out more about my own.

          • Heather, I am curious, how did you find out about other faith’s? Did you surf the internet or check out books from your library? What exactly did you do to find out about other faith’s?

          • Well, my family travelled around last year, so in Europe (especially Rome, but everywhere) we encountered Catholicism, visiting a church we encountered Pentecostal/Charismatic theology, and in the Middle East we encountered Islam.
            In Egypt we had the opportunity to talk to our very open guide about Islam, and we also learned a bit about it in Israel when we listened to a talk. I also recommend a book called “Terrorism, Jihad, and the Bible” by John MacArthur, but you’d probably want your parents to check it first (how old are you?).
            John MacArthur has an incredible gift for teaching, and on top of that, I’ve never heard him say anything contrary to the Bible. We’ve listened to a lot of his sermons to find out more about Penticostal/Charismatic theology, and Catholicism. I warn you, you’ll be offended by his stance on Catholicism, but if you want to know a bit about the differences between Catholicism and Protestantism, or how some protestants will view your faith, you might like to listen to some of his sermons. You can access heaps of his stuff at (use the search bar!)
            Even if you don’t agree with everything he says, you might be interested to see how he backs it all up.
            The internet isn’t hugely reliable, because anyone can post their personal opinion, even if the rest of their denomination/religion doesn’t agree with them. I did find the full Council of Trent useful, though, because that’s the Catholic rebuttal to the Protestant Reformation.
            I do have some books that I haven’t read yet, but I just need to be careful of where they get their information.
            But my main resource is definitely John MacArthur!
            Is that helpful?

          • Oh, and we also learned a lot about Catholicism from the Catholics themselves in the Vatican, churches, art galleries, memorials, etc…
            And when I said you’ll be offended by his stance on Catholicism, I didn’t mean that you’re easily offended, it’s just that he’s speaking to his own congregation, trying to strengthen them and he doesn’t beat around the bush. I think he does explain, though how he’s motivated by love.

          • Maybe you should try exploring. I am doing that with what I believe and exploring why others believe as well.
            Always ask questions. That’s my motto for what I believe. πŸ™‚

          • I think I should. Thank you for the tip, Ash! I appreciate it. Also, I created a blog and I was wondering if you could check it out.

          • The first debate I ever had about denominations ended in somebody repeatedly telling me I’m Lutheran when I told him I’m baptist

          • Yes, that would hurt. That is exactly why I agree that “no debating” should be in the rules.

          • Lol! See this is why most people hate debating, they’ve had bad experiences with it. I’ve had my fair share of bad experiences but they’re outweighed by the good ones. =)

          • The main reason I did’t want debating, is that I just don’t want to risk a bunch of people going crazy. There’s no way to tell how people would react to something like that. It could be great or it could be wacko πŸ˜›

          • But who knows. I’m not trying to make up some stupid argument with you but I am just really concerned about it.

          • This has turned into a really long conversation, debating debating, and we’re all commenting EVERYWHERE! XD

          • I’m not sure exactly what you mean by that, but I had certainly made it clear that I’m baptist which is much different than Lutheran. I actually found it more amusing and ridiculous than annoying πŸ˜›

          • It depends on the people, really. I mean, some people would do perfectly fine and it would be really cool, but imagine if all 20 commenters tried to debate at one time. It might be complete chaos.

  • It sounds like it’s a pointless thing if it ends up with someone calling someone else names or putting them down. It’s a fine line, yeah, but generally if everyone is litening and it causes both/all sides to think, it’s useful. If it just gets you all frustrated, it’s probably not good. Part of it is just learning to pick your battles.

    • Okay, seriously, I gotta know- is there a story behind your username, or is it just something you made up? ‘Cause I smell a story there….

      • I think I’ve actually explained this on the reb before… Basically, my dad’s colleague at work used to put really pretentious latin phrases at the end of his emails (who knows why, he didn’t even know latin) so my dad (who actually knows latin) started putting silly ones on the end of his to see if the guy would notice. Fac ut vivas (meaning get a life) was sort of the first then they got sillier and sillier until they weren’t even latin, they were just taking the mick. Like Kumquat Absurdium. It would literally be insane kumquat. But I liked it and I study theology and a lot of theology people have latin titles for their blog like semper reformanda (always reorming) or sola fide (faith alone) or other smart things so I adopted KA as my blog name as a sort of subtle way of taking the mick. I’ve never been on to take things too seriously πŸ™‚ besides it sounds cool πŸ™‚ My real name is actually Cara which, incidentally is Greek.

        • Neat story! I thought there might be a story behind Kumquat Absurdium. I have “Carpe diem” at the end of my emails, only because I read it means “seize the moment” or something similar to that. I hope that’s what it means…:)

  • If the conversation is going somewhere, consider continuing it. But a lot of “discussions” are merely arguments, especially when there’s one person in the conversation who’s really immature. I’ll debate just about anything as long as both parties are respecting each other and honoring God in their discussion. So for instance, I had a discussion with a couple of beliebers on Revive yesterday (who are laughing at my post) about whether or not a popular artist was a Christian. I’ve see a lot of people who have stupid arguments and aren’t listening to the other side or respecting another opinion, but we had a good discussion about what was honestly not that important of a topic, and I think we all learned a little something (I know I did). So, to me, content doesn’t really matter as long as you’re discussing stuff in a manner that’s honoring to Christ and respecting the other person in the argument.

    I for one love discussing and debating things, but I also know to not argue with a foolish person. Sometimes being quiet is the best defense. Now standing up for something is a little different, and I think the people below me answered it pretty well.

  • I would agree with kumquat absurdium in that it is essential to pick your battles. Try listening to the other person and asking questions. They might talk endlessly, or they might give you a chance to give your opinion.
    I try to pick issues that are really important. For instance, have you noticed that there are a lot of debates on here, often about predestination? I think that might be because people see it as a really important issue to get right.
    The other thing which I’m trying to do is use the Bible to back up my opinion, because if it’s not in the Bible, it’s an opinion and nothing more, and anyone can have an opinion, but the Bible has truth.

    • So one time I tried debating with somebody on predestination. Let’s just say that wasn’t a smart decision. They wouldn’t listen to what I had to say, and even though they claimed to be curious about my opinion, they refused to listen to what I had to say or the 30 minute sermon my pastor preached about it. So yeah, that’s a pretty hard topic.

      • Not all conversations about predestination end that way though. I’ve had many excellent ones. In fact once, I swapped phone numbers with someone on Revive, and literally all she and I did for the first two or three weeks was debate and discuss predestination. It was a great convo, and it didn’t harm our friendship at all. =)

  • I go to a Lutheran school and don’t agree with everything the teachers teAch and usually get into arguments with other students about theology differences to a certain extent that is what we should do but when it gets to the point that we r just waiting for someone to slip up so we can start a fight …….
    just ask yourself is the is gonna bring GOD glory or Is it making me look good ? is this helping someone see CHRIST or is it helping me with my pride? If u answer truthfully ud be surprised how many times its all for selfish reasons.

  • An important quote: “choose your battles”. Before you argue, think about how important whatever you’re fighting for really is. Is it really important whether or not I got to the desired seat in the car first?? Not really…I shouldn’t have a heated debate over it. like Thatcher jane said below me in her last paragraph: “is this gonna bring God glory?” if not, I don’t think it’s worth arguing over. =)

    P.S. I probably fail at this more than anyone here. So I’m not speaking from a perspecitve of someone who has this figured out; but rather, someone who is still learning. ;P

  • Think about your purpose before you begin an argument, Olivia. If your purpose is to prove your opponent wrong and show how smart you are, I would say that is not the best reason to argue with somebody. But if it’s to learn, encourage, and help the other person, then I say go for it! I’ve debated against @Taylor B. three or four times, and once with him against somebody else. But on our next to the last debate about Calvinism and Armenianism, we agreed that we would *try* not to get fired up about it (something that is hard to do for both of us), and that we wouldn’t argue for the gain, but argue for the knowledge. Argue to gain the truth, not prove the other one wrong. Does that help at all?

        • I hope I didn’t offend you in anything I said, Ash. I truly do try to argue in a way that shows the love of Christ and glorifies Him. I fail sometimes, I know, so please forgive me if I didn’t do that. πŸ™‚ It was a good discussion.

      • Oh no….that means we probably disagree on a few points. Our most recent debate (if you want to call it that) was on the subjectivity of modesty. I dropped it, though, for lack of knowledge of the topic. ‘Cause seriously, it’s not a typical guy thing to do a bunch of research on modesty. But the rest of our debates were about Calvinism and Armenianism; we agree about CCM *wipes forehead* πŸ™‚

          • I hope not. πŸ™‚ I think it’s less subjective than Taylor does, but I haven’t taken the time to support my beliefs. And I’m in the middle, leaning more towards Calvinism. You know, it’s difficult to say that, though, because I agree with about half of the Calvinist’s beliefs, but then there are the really biggies that I can’t agree with. Same with Armenianism. So it’s hard to draw a line. I like to call it ‘Ryanism’. #FullOfAnswers πŸ˜›

          • I’ve heard it referred to as Calminianism. πŸ™‚ I would say the vast majority of believers fit at different points along that wide ranger of “Calminian”. Few are willing to go as far as to embrace God’s total sovereignty or man’s totally free will. πŸ™‚ So I dub thee “Ryan the Calminian”!

          • Okay, okay…but what is Calminian for one person might not be Calminian for somebody else. So why say you’re something you’re not? I’m a Ryanist.

      • Haha true, and I’m with you guys on a lot of theological points, so you two usually have a topic of debate pretty well covered by the time I come around πŸ˜‰

  • Avoid bickering. Try not to argue needlessly. If it looks like it’s going to go nowhere, make your point quietly- that often gets more attention than yelling it- and leave it at that. But if it’s a reasonable debate where you’re both learning things, by all means continue.

  • Do: Feel free to debate and discuss your beliefs with others. It’s GREAT to know why you believe what to believe, and it’s not a bad thing to try to convince others of what you believe. In fact, we’re commanded in the Bible to be ready to give a defense for what we believe in. =)

    Don’t: Don’t get your feelings hurt. There are JERKS out there who will call you names at the drop of the hat, especially online. Don’t pick fights constantly, or call people names. There was this one guy who commented on here for a while. We started a conversation about predestination (which I LOVE talking about, which you know if you know me well lol). It was going fine until he basically called me an idolater for believing in what I believed as you can see below in the screenshot. Don’t be like him, don’t be a jerk. =)

    Here’s the screenshot, it looks a lot like the text lol:

    • Wow; harsh language. Hope that wasn’t Taylor… πŸ˜€ Good tips, @GuitarwithArms:disqus . Know that most of the time, the more angry the person you debate gets, the more they are convicted of why their wrong. I don’t know; that’s the case sometimes. Luckily I haven’t debated many people, and those that I have are my friends, so they don’t call me names. πŸ™‚

      • Yeah, Private, it wasn’t me. Does that sound like language I would use to describe something I believe? πŸ™‚ Ha, ha, Ryan, meet Josh. Josh, meet Ryan. You two could have some jolly conversations…

        • We’ve met somewhere else I can’t remember, but thanks for the meeting. πŸ™‚ It might if you rejected your beliefs. Which you partially did recently. I sense sarcasm in your last sentence…

          • I did not reject them; I added to them so I could understand more fully. πŸ™‚ There’s a difference! I just got a better understanding of how our free will meshes with God’s sovereignty. Believe me, I’m just as big a believer in God’s sovereignty as I ever was. I just understand a little better how man’s will fits into that. And yes, while true, that last sentence was sarcastic.

          • I see. Well, you changed your beliefs all the same. Yeah, I noticed; that’s where we finally ended up disagreeing, right? I figured. As you would say, *Boom!* πŸ˜›

          • It’s delicious! And Arizona tea makes Half & Half, which is half lemonade half (I think peach?) tea. It’s delicious, no matter how disgusting the combination sounds! You can buy the flavor packets to add to a water bottle or something.

        • Ha ha, I didn’t figure, based on his below comment. πŸ™‚ I know that when I debated Taylor the….second time (?), I was struggling a lot harder to support my position. Afterward, Taylor said he wasn’t trying his hardest. I was freaked out! πŸ˜› Then I changed some of my beliefs a half year or so after that, and, looking back on it, I could see some flaws in my thinking (not as many as in his, but…jk :D).

  • We’re living in a culture today that acts as if disagreement and logical, reasonable discussion is somehow disrespectful or, in Christian circles, unloving and divisive. In many ways, the relativism of our culture has rubbed off on us believers, making us shy away from taking stands and arguing for truth for fear of being to absolutist.

    So, basically, the truth is to be defended. “Be always ready to give an answer for the truth…”, right? Now interestingly enough, it doesn’t say “Always give an answer”. It says, “Be ready”. The idea is knowing what you believe and being confident in it so that when the time is right, then you can give an answer or ask the question.

    So, what is the difference? Well, I can’t really give a strict outline, but there are clues. If you are already sure the person you’re talking to will not be convinced, there’s probably not a point to having the discussion. Angry discussions, ad homenim’s, arguing over trivial points of data rather than the issue at hand, these are all clues you’re just arguing for the sake of arguing, or that your opponent is, and that it’s probably time to shut it down.

    Debates shouldn’t be shied away from. They’re some of the most helpful forms of learning we can engage in. What we need to remember though is that they can be fire, they can hurt. James gives us plenty of warnings about the danger of an unloosed tongue. So be careful with your discussion. Keep it calm, keep it factual, keep it loving. As long as your doing those three things and you have a good reason for your discussion, you should be in the clear.

  • We really need to understand our motives for having the argument. If we are defending something and we truly believe it is worth it then yes, we need to defend what we believe. But when defending we need to defend in love, to help the other person understand why we think they’re wrong, not to get the point that “I’m better then you” ARGUE IN LOVE, ARGUE TO HELP, ARGUE BECAUSE YOU’RE CONCERNED.
    Also, be careful with your words. Even if they may be true and not necessarily harming, if someone is stubborn and won’t listen, don’t spew them out anyways… it will get you nowhere. They need to be willing to listen, otherwise it is really pointless.

  • Check your motives before you start an argument. Don’t beat a dead horse. If someone ends the argument because they ask you too, don’t snap back with something sassy or continue with your points. Respect their boundaries. Most importantly, don’t treat them like people. Not targets. Not practice for your argument ammunition. Address their points. If they make a point, address it, don’t just move on with your own points like you didn’t even hear them. Don’t make the argument turn into something that makes you give a cold shoulder to the other person (or vice versa).

  • On the theme of “picking your battles”, I would say that arguments on social media are often best avoided. Social media discussions (including in situations such as this one) can be incredibly frustrating and fruitless – wow, nice alliteration πŸ˜‰ – because all we see of each other are our written words. We don’t have the benefit of eye contact, tone of voice and body language to convey some of the essential information about the argument: whether it is friendly or not, and whether it exists for the purpose of working through an issue together, or simply sharpening our debating skills. This can lead to some agonising misunderstandings,

    (Pause for effect)

    because some of us (like me) try to analyse every word that is spoken in order to determine the meaning, while others splash big verbal “dots” around in order to convey a general idea. (Sort of like different styles of painting.) And we don’t always consider the effect our words have on others. For instance, in a discussion on Revive a while ago, a very honest and well-meaning girl began her comment with the words “Woah. Woah. Woah.” I was more than a little taken aback. If I’d known her in real life, I probably would have realised that this was just her manner. But it wasn’t a face to face conversation, and all I saw was what she wrote.

    So, a general rule: argue only with those who you know will understand your intentions. And, be clear that you’re not just there for an argument. Take time to be friendly, and – as Violin with Feet (nice name, by the way) said – treat them like people, not targets.

    Happy arguing!!

    (Well, that’s what they normally say at the end of a “how to” sort of thing, isn’t it?)

  • It is really opinion or perspective. If it is you opinion about something, propose it. If you find it is pointless to continue the argument, stop it.

  • I guess I would say it depends on what your arguing. It really is a matter of opinion, so just b/c you don’t like or agree with something doesn’t mean that someone else will care. Does that make any since??

    Maybe you could try to use the Bible, facts or your actions, like being friends with the person who is getting teased and so others will ask what’s different about you instead of arguing to get your point across.
    Just some suggestions….hope this helps;)

rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectationsβ€”a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More β†’