A Few Words on Discourse
So, here I am. I’ve crawled out of my hiding spot, and I’m here to give a few words concerning discourse. The first word stands alone and it is listening. It may seem ironic that listening is an important word to the subject of discourse, but it is true.
Proverbs 15:28Â The heart of the righteous studieth to answer…
Proverbs 18:13Â He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.
Proverbs 29:11Â A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.
Proverbs 29:20Â Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him.
James 1:19Â …let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.
It seems clear that a good portion of heat could be taken out of many disputes if the people involved would just listen to what the others are saying. In my observation of many “spats,”Â most of them end up with the people involved no different than when they started.Â Â That is because the two parties never really wanted to understand anything. They just wanted to voice their strong opinion. I’ve seen this on the issues of calvinism, salvation, ecclesiology, standards,Â fundamentalism, and others. ManyÂ times, people are too concerned with what they believe or are going to say, to stop to listen to the other person’s point of view. It becomes humorous and painful to follow some discussions because no one is listening.
This also applies to monologues. “The heart of the righteous studieth to answer.”Â There is hardly a thingÂ more distressingÂ than hearing someone I essentially agree with, tearing up (and down) a straw man. This shows that he did not study to answer. Sure, he may have studied hisÂ presentation for a long time: but there are different types of things that need studied, and studying delivery styles and the words you’ve prepared must come after you’ve studied the topic you’re addressing. If you’re going to fight a battle, you may as well be shooting at the real enemy. You’ll look foolish (even to your friends) if you waste all your time and ammunition on a dummy outpost. You also don’t thwart the enemy at all. So whether we are trying to persuade a friend or defeat the enemy, we must listen to know what’s going on.
The next two words are related to each other: satire and sarcasm.
Satire: A literary work in which human vice or folly is attacked through irony, derision, or wit.
Sarcasm: A cutting, often ironic remark intended to wound.
These two words are quite similar andÂ at times,Â may be identical on the surface. The difference is the intent. Satire’s intent is beneficial, and sarcasm’s intent is harmful. Many times, the off-handed comment is sarcastic. It may be true, but the spirit of the delivery is only to make yourself look better and to demean the person that receives it. It is quite difficult to distinguish between satire and sarcasm on paper, butÂ it seemsÂ that prepared wit and irony is satirical, and reactionary wit and irony is sarcastic. At the same time, there are some who see the folly immediately and can deliver the satire quickly.Â Â The point is that on paperÂ both look the same on first appearance. We must be God to immediately be able to judge intent. So, if you see the irony in everything, and you like to deride, be sure to use your skills to edify believers or crush enemies–don’t look for self-approval because of your wit.