Is There a Defense for Using Strong Language in an Argument?
Is harsh rhetoric a bad thing? Are there times when it’s OK to let loose with the truth in a way that disturbs some people? I have a saying: “Don’t give anyone a reason to reject your position other than the position itself.”
But sometimes reasoned arguments aren’t enough. Often, some people are dismissive of them, like “whatever” or the new “OK Boomer.” The Urban Dictionary defines “Ok boomer” as “a simple way to tell people to f**k off.” It’s like playing the race card. When the debate is lost or an argument can’t be made, slander and/or indifference become the tactic of those unable to answer an argument.
Jesus told the religious leaders of His day that the devil was their father:
You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44).
Jesus described the Pharisees as a “brood of vipers” who were evil and could not say anything that was good (Matt. 12:34).
Twice Jesus drove out the moneychangers from the temple (John 2:15; Matt. 21:12-17).
The Apostle Peter had some harsh things to say:
But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed, suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you, having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children; forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but he received a rebuke for his own transgression, for a mute donkey, speaking with a voice of a man, restrained the madness of the prophet.
These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, “A dog returns to its own vomit” [Prov. 26:11] and, “A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire” (2 Peter 2:12-22).
Paul wrote the following to Titus: “Even one of their own prophets has said, ‘Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.’ This testimony is true. Therefore, rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith” (Titus 1:12-13).
Paul attacked those who demanded that new creatures in Christ must be circumcised. He was not kind in his response: “I wish that those who are troubling you would even mutilate themselves” (Gal. 5:12). The Greek word ἀποκόψονται is said to refer to castration. Of course, Paul is using strong language to make a point that is crucial to the Christian faith. There’s been a radical change in the covenant affecting Jews.
Paul may have had Deuteronomy 23:1 in mind: “No one who is emasculated or has his male organ cut off shall enter the assembly of the LORD.”
The LXX (ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament) uses the same Greek word (ἀποκόψονται) as Galatians 5:12. There is no doubt that this verse is referring to genitalia. The LXX and the New Testament uses this Greek word several more times to refer to cutting off body parts (toes, hands, and feet), as well as for cutting off clothes and a rope. (Source)
Paul describes homosexuality as “vile” or “degrading” and “indecent” (Rom. 1:26-27).
Sometimes people need a jolt of reality. This is especially true when one political party and an entrenched bureaucracy is out to destroy our nation. It seems that too many people are upset by some tough talk by President Trump than the policies that the Democrats are trying to pass. The Republicans aren’t guiltless. They have succumbed to Let’s Make Government Great. They’ve enriched themselves at our expense.
There’s nothing nice about dismembering a child during an abortion. Shouldn’t we describe abortion in terms that actually describes the killing of an unborn baby? What soft things can you say about forcing a seven-year-old child to change his sex with drugs and ultimately surgery? Reason doesn’t seem to work when a jury approved such an evil.
What should we say about laws that force businesses to participate in same-sex celebrations and events and threated to destroy their livelihood with outrageous fines, for example, $135,000?
Why is it that abortionists use terms like “pro-choice” instead of killing an unborn baby? Why did the homosexual movement describe itself as a “gay rights movement”? To hide the darkness of their deeds.
Some years ago I taught a highschool worldview class at a new Christian school. First-year schools get all kinds of students because they are desperate for bodies to pay the bills. Many of the students came from public schools. Their parents were hoping to rescue them from the indoctrination. The topic of homosexuality came up. Some of the students didn’t see anything wrong with it.
Here’s what I said: “Please explain to me how a man sticking his penis in the rectum of another man is acceptable sexual behavior.” Their jaws dropped. The topic was not raised again, at least not in my presence.
The following are some examples of mild language pushback. We need more of it.
The following is from the film Changling (2008), based on a true story:
There are some classic Ronald Reagan moments. The most memorable is probably his “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” from his speech at the Brandenburg Gate near the Berlin Wall on June 12, 1987. His most succinct comment was in San Diego, November 3, 1980, when he told a heckler, “Aw, shut up.”
Then there’s this from the 1980 GOP debate: “I am paying for this microphone.”
Reagan would be considered a radical today by his own party that believes you can play nice with the Democrats and still make conservative political progress. Reagan knew you needed to confront the opposition directly even if it wasn’t politically polite. Unfortunately, he was later surrounded by swamp Republicans who said he couldn’t win unless he had an establishment Republican as a running mate. Enter George H. W. Bush.
Reagan didn’t need Bush, but he fell for the classic claim made by Establishment Republicans, “You can’t win without us and if you do win without us we’ll destroy you.” It wasn’t said in these words, but that’s what it was all about.
Here’s the important part of the “tear down this wall” story. Even Reagan’s administration officials wanted him to cut the line from his speech because they believed it to be an “outright affront to the Soviet leadership.” Here’s what Peter Robinson, Reagan’s speechwriter, says happened:
[T]he speech was circulated to the State Department and the National Security Council. Both attempted to squelch it. The assistant secretary of state for Eastern European affairs challenged the speech by telephone. A senior member of the National Security Council staff protested the speech in memoranda. The ranking American diplomat in Berlin objected to the speech by cable. The draft was naive, it would raise false hopes. It was clumsy, it was needlessly provocative. State and the NSC submitted their own alternate drafts — my journal records that there were no fewer than seven, including one written by the diplomat in Berlin. In each, the call to tear down the wall was missing.
The Berlin Wall came down, East and West Berlin reunited, and the Soviet Union collapsed. The Eastern Bloc nations regained their sovereignty and borders.
Trump is following in the footsteps of Reagan but trying to do something Reagan could not do — drain the Washington cesspool.