Online discussion is very predictable. There’s a meme out there about how such discussions go and the odds that Hitler will be mentioned as the discussion lengthens (It’s even made it into the Oxford English Dictionary, apparently).
In Christian discussion boards odds are that as soon as someone is losing an argument, one of two strategems will come up:
- Have you spoken to X about this? (The Matthew 18 card)
- You can’t judge motives
What is the purpose of these strategems?
To shut you up, that’s what. It does get a little tiresome, but I encourage you to either take no notice of those who attempt to use them, or push back against them.
This does not mean that I advocate impolitic speech, or uncharitable communication. However, I think that we must insist that topics be discussed on their merits and refuse to be drawn into a side-tracking rabbit trail by allowing these tactics put us on the defensive.