Question:

I got in a heated "argument" of sorts on a social network with some atheists who I thought were my friends. Their ugliness came out and it just left me feeling uncomfortable. My heart was racing, my stomach in knots, but overall, I felt I did good. I countered their comments politely but firmly using your web site to help explain things when I needed.

Of course, I didn't exactly get through to any of them, but at least I tried, I guess. And I made a new Christian friend, at least. One girl even dropped out of the argument and then later wrote a passive-aggressive comment aimed toward me. She had to lower herself to crude remarks and mockery. It was very disheartening since I thought she respected me. And this was all because of her stance on homosexuality.

It's just so sad and has left me feeling depressed. It doesn't help that nobody even considered my arguments, which were valid. It felt like it was all for nothing, but I know it wasn't because at least I was making my beliefs known and standing up for what is right.

Did I do the right thing? When I see misinformation it is my duty, as a Christian, to provide correct information, right? And when someone is bad-mouthing Christianity, isn't it also my duty to defend it and, once again, provide correct information in a firm yet polite nature?

It's a shame they have to keep calling me judgmental, hateful and a bigot. No matter how much I tell them that I can respect them without agreeing with their lifestyle or compromising my own beliefs, they just don't seem to get it. They're definitely not acting respectful to me when they mock Christianity. It really makes me depressed, and I already have bad depression.


Answer:

"Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ" (Jude 3-4).

The problem of false teachers will always confront Christians. Satan is just not going to give up easily. People will want to justify their sins and feel that they still have the grace of God while they remain in rebellion to God.

The job of the Christian is to stand for the truth. While we seek to convince people to live righteously, the fact will always be the most have no interest in changing. No Christian who has contended for the faith has failed just because they weren't heeded. Consider that Noah preached, but only his immediate family was saved. Jeremiah preached to a nation who would not listen to his warnings. It hurts -- that is where Lamentations got its name -- but it doesn't mean Jeremiah failed.

"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Matthew 5:10-12).

One of the interesting things about the Internet is its public nature. Discussions you are having with one person can be read by hundreds or thousands of other people. When I'm having a disagreement with a false teacher, I try to remember that it is not just the false teacher I'm trying to convince. More important to me are the hundreds reading the material who might be sitting on the fence, who learn the truth and leave sin. It might not even happen immediately. Someone might run across what you wrote years later. Or something you said now, might continue to bother someone who is in sin, encouraging to take corrective action. You just never know and might never know the impact you have on people you have never met.

But when someone turns to mockery and insults, I find that an occasion to smile. It means they have no logical response to what you have said. All they are left with is a poor attempt at shooting the messenger who told them things they did not want to hear. To me it means you did a good job arguing your case.

As you noted it is they who are being judgmental and hateful, so they lost their case when they tried to claim it is you. These type of charges should be ignored because everyone else is able to see who is the truly hateful. "For the Lord GOD will help Me; therefore I will not be disgraced; therefore I have set My face like a flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed" (Isaiah 50:7). To set your face as flint means to show no reaction. You don't give the persecutors the satisfaction of seeing that their barbs hurt you.