A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
– Proverbs 15:1
My daughter is on the verge of being a teenager. She’s straddling the line between a young woman and a girl, with all that involves. She’s stubborn. She is sometimes lazy. And like most kids her age, electronic devices are a constant distraction.
We’ve had a lot of trouble with her lately. She’s angry and disrespectful. And I have been dealing with it poorly.
I’m stubborn and determined to get my way in most things. I’m also quick to anger. The arguments have been getting more frequent, and they’ve been getting worse.
Something has to give.
Turning Away Wrath
Meanwhile, the conversion of Hank Hanegraaff to Orthodoxy became a lightning rod for certain Protestant groups. The writers at Pulpit & Pen are making it a personal crusade to attack Orthodox Christians, accusing us of blasphemy and witchcraft, among other things.
I wrote a response in which I called on Orthodox Christians to simply ignore these attacks and pray for the writers. In response, some of the writers and their followers called for me to schedule a public debate. But I’m not interested in winning an argument or proving my knowledge of scripture. My salvation depends on my drawing closer to Christ, not my ability to quote John Calvin.
But the boys at Pulpit & Pen aren’t done yet. Their latest shot is an open letter to Orthodox Christians (which I refuse to link) demanding we repent of our heresy or be forever damned.
Apparently, attacking Orthodoxy brings in good web traffic. But we’re just the latest punching bag, and we won’t be the last. I’ll take the 1,800-plus years of Church tradition over a guy setting himself up to be some kind of Calvinist Bill O’Reilly, thank you very much.
Many of you responded with kind words after my refusal to take the bait. I decided to apply the admonition that a soft answer turns away wrath, and I’m grateful for your comments and encouragement.
In fact, you gave me the answer to my problems with my daughter.
Giving A Soft Answer
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve changed my attitude. Instead of fighting fire with fire, I’ve softened my stance. When my daughter is disrespectful, I call it to her attention without snapping. If she demands her way, I ask her to convince me.
It’s a struggle. But my refusal to take the bait with her is working. She sees me trying to control my anger, and is trying to control hers. She’s more gentle and open to my attention, and less guarded and suspicious.
By controlling my own anger, I’m helping her control hers.
You mustn’t wage your Christian struggle with sermons and arguments, but with true secret love. When we argue, others react. When we love people, they are moved and we win them over. When we love, we think that we offer something to others, but in reality we are the first to benefit.
– St. Porphyrios
I hope that all Orthodox Christians take this into consideration when criticized by people that do not understand our faith. If Orthodoxy gains more attention in the United States, we will come under increasing scrutiny and pressure. People of other faiths, and also those of no faith at all, will look for chinks in our armor and flaws in our character.
We must rise to this challenge by refusing needless controversy. We must let the love of Christ guide our every activity. And we must resist the snares that beset us at every turn.
A soft answer turns away wrath. If we must give an answer for the hope that is within us, let it be soft.
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