Iron sharpens iron,So one man sharpens another.Proverbs 27:17
I find that I always go through a learning curve when my beliefs and thinking are challenged. As a new Christian I developed my own explanation and reasons for my beliefs, and several years ago I realized I was in the process of developing another apologetic, but this time it was an apologetic for marriage: reasons why marriage is between one man and one woman.
An apologetic grows swiftest and strongest in real-time challenges as you are faced with questions or objections. Read, research, and refine your thinking in the midst of iron sharpening iron discussions, and your ability to stand firm and reason will develop a tempered edge of clarity.
When fumbling a question, my first step has always been to learn more about what I believe and why I believe it. Another proverb says, “He who walks with wise men will be wise,” and so I turn to those who have thought about an issue, and I read them. I look at more than one person, because each has his own perspective and may develop a facet not given weight by another.
I think about what I’ve read, and do my own analysis. Does this idea make sense? Is it clear? Which arguments are the most cogent and concise? What do I think needs further explanation? How do these points fit together? Which points should be emphasized? What are the major issues? What do I disagree with? What do I find helpful or challenging? Is there something I’ve overlooked or that shows a weakness in my own thinking? What’s my short answer to a question? What’s my detailed answer? Compare, contrast, and draw conclusions.
I talk about what I’m thinking and reading with those whose opinions I value, and gain from their insight. I ask what questions and objections they’ve encountered, and what their answers are.
I also keep talking with those who disagree with me, because my goal is not only to explain and defend what I believe about marriage, my goal as I work to answer questions and objections is to persuade others why marriage is between one man and one woman.
That’s not to say everyone will listen. There are those who give a fair hearing and discuss the issues and consequences, and others simply want to shout you down. I’ve had to learn discernment as to when I’m casting pearls before people whose intent is to rend and tear to pieces.
The discussion doesn’t always go perfectly or smoothly. I’ve been through this ongoing process in talking about abortion and why I’m pro-life, and like abortion, marriage is a heated debate. There is risk. I’ve fumbled. I’ve felt outmaneuvered and inadequate. Of paramount importance, however, is not keeping silent until we’re perfect, but in speaking out now. The marriage debate has lasting consequences for us, for our children, and for the future of society.
We each live in different circumstances and have different spheres of influence. It’s not so much whether or not you have a large platform, but that you use the platform you have. Stella Morabito keeps this quote from Vaclav Havel at the top of her homepage.
. . . his action went beyond itself, because it illuminated its surroundings, and because of the incalculable consequences of that illumination.
If you don’t know where to start, in my next post I’ll share with you things to read that I’ve found helpful in building a foundation for a marriage apologetic. The list will include some items that are succinct, and others with more detailed thinking, but I’ve found all of them to be profitable.