A friend of mine recently put out a call for respect. He felt the need to ask people to be courteous on some things he will be posting in the near future. I am actually on the opposite "side" of the "debate" that was the subject of my friend's call, but I back him on the idea of respect. Sadly, some Christians actually need that reminder and, even more sadly, there are some who wouldn't heed it, though I hope my friend doesn't run into any of those.
I Peter 3:14-16 tells us:
"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander."
Peter is talking about the central message of the gospel, which is understood by Christians to be the most important thing that can be brought up in conversation. Eternal salvation depends on Jesus. Even when we are talking about that we are supposed to be gentle and respectful. If we are not we run the risk of giving Jesus a bad name.
It seems to me that this means we should do the same in any lesser debates. Nastiness, rudeness and pettiness should have no place. I admit that there have been times I haven't been perfect in this area especially when I have felt strongly about something, but I am trying to improve.
Remember, we don't always have to be right. God is, and that's what matters.
There are times when we need to enter the cultural debate and do our best to make changes. When there is hunger, slavery, injustice, exploitation of the poor or harm to the innocent we are called to speak up. Other times, we can focus on keeping ourselves and the Church on the right track and not worry about the secular world. We are only called to hold our brothers and sisters accountable, not non-Christians. We also must remember that even within the Church there are "disputable things" and we need to approach all conversations with humility.
May God guide us in all our conversations, debates and disputes.
Have a blessed day!!