It’s a strange thing, being a Christian. We’re called to be in the world, but not of it. We’re supposed to spread the good news to the world, and yet all too often, when we share our faith, people tune us out. (That first sentence alone will cause half the average readership of a blog post to stop reading–even some Christians.) So how are we supposed to do our job?
Each of us has a cause or issue about which we’re passionate. For me, it’s sexuality. The longer I am involved with natural family planning, the more clearly I see that the lifestyle I took on for religious reasons has far-flung, practical implications for the world at large. Objectification vs. appreciation of women, respect for vs. abuse of the body and the environment–these are philosophical ideas that are almost universally espoused in our society. The same can be said of many of the beliefs we hold as Christians.
So why is it that the message is so widely despised?
G.K. Chesterton gives us a good answer:
“It is no good to tell an atheist that he is an atheist; or to charge a denier of immortality with the infamy of denying it; or to imagine that one can force an opponent to admit he is wrong, by proving that he is wrong on somebody else’s principles, but not on his own. … we must either not argue with a man at all, or we must argue on his grounds and not ours.” (from St. Thomas Aquinas: The Dumb Ox, by G.K. Chesterton)
We live in a polarized, sound-byte culture, one where the ideal argument is 140 characters and demolishes all possible objections. The trouble is…it doesn’t exist. The world is not black and white; even the clearest moral issues have nuances that must be addressed if we are to make headway with rational people.
In 140 characters, we can be witty, we can be provocative; we can tantalize, even inflame. What we cannot do is nuance. To evangelize with words is to enter into reasoned, respectful discussion with people who don’t believe as we do, on their terms. Because after all, why should they listen otherwise?
Kathleen Basi is a stay-at-home mom, freelance writer, flute and voice teacher, liturgical composer, choir director, natural family planning teacher, scrapbooker, sometime-chef and budding disability rights activist. She puts her juggling skills on display at www.kathleenbasi.com.