I love to debate. Any subject, any side, debating is just pure fun for me. And I blame this unusual characteristic of mine completely on my favorite uncle in the entire world — my Uncle John.
As a teenager, I was dealing with some pretty heavy things at home, so any time an opportunity arose that allowed me to escape that atmosphere, I was all over it. And when I was about 13 or 14, my Aunt Pam had a couple of children, thus needing a babysitter. And it was often suggested that I just spend the night, so I tended to spend quite a bit of time over at her house. Aunt Pam was hilarious, and what I would term somewhat eccentric. She fostered in me a love for all things Star Trek, Dallas, Dynasty, and HBO related. She was always laughing, and no subject was ever really off-limits to her… a trait in her I simply adore…
Aunt Pam was married to Uncle John, and maybe other than my grandmother — who belongs to Mensa, he is the smartest man I know. Almost from the moment we met, we always seemed to lock ourselves down into hours long debates on every opinion I’ve ever had. Is there a God? Not according to Uncle John, and here’s why…Is Pro-Life the stance Jesus would have taken? No, according to Uncle John, and here’s why….It seemed that any opinion I had about even the most minuscule, dumb things, my Uncle John was opposed to it.As time rolled by, I started to freak out a little by this, thinking that if the Smartest Man in the Entire World disagreed with me about everything, maybe I was an idiot. Even worse, I really wanted this person’s respect, as I really did admire him.
Finally, right after my 16th birthday, I didn’t take the bait of our next quest into the pros and cons of whatever he was dangling in front of my intellect. Instead, I just asked him, do you think I am stupid? We never agree on anything!
I can still see his face in my memory as clear as if he were standing right here in front of me.
With a twinkle in his eye, he said, ” No, I don’t think you’re stupid. Sometimes, I do agree with what you are saying. But I always argue for the opposite side, so you’ll know why you believe what you do. Everyone has their own opinions, but few people have really asked themselves why. These debates of ours are good for both of us, because we learn how to defend our beliefs to each other and to ourselves without hating our opponent for not agreeing with us. We learn to not be offended by opposing beliefs; instead, you learn how to respect a person who knows WHY they believe what they do, and is ready to defend it to the end.” And then, of course, he added, “Besides, you’re fun to rile up — it’s so easy!”
Without knowing it, my Uncle John taught me the meaning of this verse:
The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged. 1 Tim. 2:24
Life has taken me far away from my Uncle John, and we haven’t had a good debate since I was that teenager babysitting his sons, but I think back to some of those emotion-filled, hot debates, and I have to laugh at how easily he could push my buttons. Thank God for the Uncle Johns of this world.
Know why you believe what you believe, and be able to defend your position!!