"The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our Lord stands forever. Isaiah 40:8

07 July 2006

Can Christian Women Not Debate?

I recently came upon a website for Christian women that was promoting a "blog carnival" (a carnival is a group of links to posts around a particular topic from various contributors), asking Christian women to submit posts on a particular subject. The submitted posts would be linked to from this website as long as the submission guidelines were met.

Sounded good until I came to the guidelines which basically stated that posts from blogs which tended toward controversy, slander or debate would not be accepted. Not just the carnival post itself, but the blog in general. That made my heart sink.

Don't get me wrong, I believe in blogging freedom and if someone wants to limit their carnival participants to red-haired Christian women with size 10 shoes, that is their choice. But having a carnival specifically for Christian women but not for Christian women who "debate" makes "debating" seem like a bad thing, especially when it's included with the word "slander". A Christian woman who slanders should be an oxymoron so I have to wonder what would be considered slander? Surely a Christian woman wouldn't knowingly slander someone. Has debating now reached the level of slander for Christian Women?

I guess I am a bit sensitive about this stuff as I tend to lean on the side of debate. I believe debate is a good thing and not something to be discouraged. Are any of us as Christian women so sure of our knowledge and opinions that there is no room for debate? Can we not discuss our differences and viewpoints without reaching the level of slander?

Okay, this rant may seem a little over the top based on one website's guidelines, but since I have been online this idea of debating being somehow taboo for Christian women seems to be quite prevalent. Too often with Christian women online I have seen truth hidden in the back room so as not to offend and all in the name of "grace". Grace is good, but not at the expense of truth.

It reminds me of Marla** (whose blog I can't even link to anymore because she has deleted it completely) who was pummeled when she dared to speak out about the issues of Mormons being considered as "Christians". This was a good Christian woman who brought important issues to the blogosphere but she no longer blogs. I think she has left a hole that I have yet to see filled by any other Christian woman. I miss Marla.

So, I guess I have pretty much disqualified myself from the carnival that doesn't accept debate. During my short time blogging I have had a few minor debates, but not because I had an intent to alienate or judge others. I simply speak the truth. And if I am in error, I hope my fellow Christian women will say so and not cower from a potential debate. There is no reason that debating in general should be a bad quality in a Christian woman. Has it come to that?

** As a side note, Marla's concern over Mormons identifying themselves as Christians was only further confirmed by some interesting posts and comments over at the ChoosingHome Blog.


Beth said...


In my opinion debate entails someone is right and someone is wrong. Dialogue on the other hand leans on recognizing that someone isn't delared the winner at the end and perhaps we all have something we can learn from each other. Perhaps that site recognizes that sometimes debates get no where. There are numerous Christian positions on doctrine which very well read Christians do not agree on. Hence for some discussions there really is not a winner or one "right" answer.

I know God's kingdom would be much better off if I spent my time letting God transform my heart in prayer than expending energy feeling the need to declare who is and is not Christian. Does it really foster conversion in their hearts when we tell them they are not really a Christian?

From my perspective it does not.

God bless your night.

Sheena said...

I think there is a place for whoesome debate, even if the opinions voiced appear to be polar opposites.

Isn't that what we often do when presenting the facts of the Gospel to an unbeliever?

The outcome outcome of a debate isn't made void because the two partys don't agree in the end.

Maybe you should start your own carnival!

Carrie said...

I think you are compartmentalizing debate too much. Perhaps my reference to Marla confused the issue, but I'm not talking just about debates around doctrine b/w denominations/faith.

In Marla's case she was trying to point out a dangerous trend of Mormons calling themselves Christians. This is NOT about trying to feel good about who is or isn't Christian and feeling good about excluding others. This is about protecting the one true gospel and not confusing seekers (to believe a false gospel is true) and not allowing people trapped in that religion to go on believing that they are followers of Christ. That helps no one.

But I digress. I don't see debate as being between two people who think they are right and trying to declare a winner (that would be a pride issue). I see it as two people who have different opinions and trying to find the ultimate truth or at least give both involved a different perspective. That is learning and growing and as long as the people debating are respectful, that is a good thing.

"Does it really foster conversion in their hearts when we tell them they are not really a Christian?"
- That's a good question, Beth. Unfortunately what happens online is that everyone can "overhear" debates of which their faith may be a topic and may take offense. But, how is it best to confront false gospels? Just let it go and hope too many aren't led astray? I don't know.

I agree with you.

Anonymous said...

Proverbs 27:17Iron sharpens iron,
and one man sharpens another.

"Does it really foster conversion in their hearts when we tell them they are not really a Christian?"

Any less than "does it really foster conversion when we tell a non-believer that they're a sinner and need Jesus?

Carrie, I'm putting in an entry to the Carnival you're writing about - maybe they'll reject it, maybe they won't.

I can tell you that I'm tired of "fluff" in the church. Yes, I have some "fluff" on my blog (the lastest photo thing), but I'd rather have a readership of thinking men than women who hide behind "can't we all just get along"

Anonymous said...

Carrie, I just followed one of the links in your sidebar and Dionna of "Using My Voice" said this (from a "Little House on the Prairie" episode)

"This all leads to the Reverand finding out the truth and telling the town on the following Sunday that he was wrong. He says that most of the time we should turn the other cheek, but that sometimes when you see people doing the Devil's work in your midst- we need to - and should stand for what is right and ask them to leave our midst."

We are not exempt from standing because of our sex.

Beth said...

That's great that you don't think debate has to involve a winner but rather 2 people with different opinions and seeking truth and learning and growing and listening!! Debate away!!

I find too often with Christians of your perspective who have already decided that a Catholic can not be a Christian that there is not much listening going on. And in fact many of you feel that any christian who recognizes the presence of Jesus Christ in the Catholic Church has sold out to something false.

God is much bigger than you would ever imagine don't put Him in a box.

I also think at times we do need to set aside our doctrinal differences and try to "just get along", not because they are not important but because we fail to take a moment to recognize the presence of God in one another on our quest to filter out those who hold onto false doctrines.

The ultimate purpose of any doctrine is to transform us into the imagine of God.


Jami Leigh said...

Awwh, I too miss Marla. We stay in contact by occasional email but there just doesn't seem to be a replacement for her straight shooting honest posts.

Carla said...

Count me among the many others that really miss Marla. I pray the Lord is blessing her and her family.

I really like your header pic, btw.


Malissa said...

you know I rarely debate anymore.
Discuss yes. Debate no.

I don't have time for all the energy debate requires and usually the other person is so completely set in their ways it is of no use.

I shy away from debate not because I'm weak in my faith, or don't know how to answer, I don't do debate because I'm feeling frankly that it's along the lines of "foolish and unlearned questions avoid"

It sucks too much time from more worthy things I should be doing.

kevin beck said...

This is a great post. I am looking forward to reading more from your blog...but I probably won't debate you. I think you would win. :)


Elena said...

I enjoyed Marla's blog too, but I did criticize her for the way the Mormon ladies were handled. That's ancient history now I guess.

Interestingly, you say you enjoy debate, yet the Mormon/BOB issue was a very hot debate topic that you seem to regret.

So I'm confused?

Carrie said...

Hi Elena,

What did I say that made you think I regretted the Mormon/BOB debate? I don't regret that debate.

Elena said...

This part sounded like you regretted it.

"It reminds me of Marla** (whose blog I can't even link to anymore because she has deleted it completely) who was pummeled when she dared to speak out about the issues of Mormons being considered as "Christians". This was a good Christian woman who brought important issues to the blogosphere but she no longer blogs. "

I don't regret that debate either.

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