The Art of Discourse…

Gary Campbell Jr.
3 min readNov 29, 2021

I’ve both watched and thought a lot this week about how the Kyle Rittenhouse acquittal has sparked a flurry of discussion in all spheres of society, and of course have ignited a firestorm of spirited (to try to say it nicely) discussion on social media.

Over the last two years it seems that any social controversy or event elicits no end of opinions, as well as highlighting (almost engraving) the divisions within American culture. In the case of Kyle Rittenhouse, issues like gun control and second amendment issues, race relations and vigilantism are the just some of the things around which the controversies and questions swirl.

As faithful believers in Jesus how should we approach participation in these discussions?

Beyond our personal positions, as those submitted to an even higher authority and mission than that of our neighbors, how are we to behave?

And, is there a role for the Church to play in helping or perhaps even leading the way in robust, healthy public discourse?

I believe the answer is yes.

Just a couple of principles come to mind. There are certainly more, but for the sake of space let’s look at three:

  1. Listen before you speak, (listen more than you speak). This means not only reading your “friends” posts, or hearing their opinion over coffee, but doing so patiently and at length before you levy your thoughts into the conversation. You can do this by engaging in “reflective listening”, and so forth. This honors the other person, and esteems value to them, even if you happen to think their opinions are ill informed, or wrong altogether. James 1:19–20 reminds us- My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. So listen first, and listen well.
  2. Remember that “nuance is necessary” in public discourse. The writer of Proverbs says- “The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.”This does not mean that you should not affirm an objective value upon which your argument stands, it simply is a reminder not to oversimplify what are often complex issues. So, be truthful but not unkind in what you share. Deescalate tense situations or conversation points with grace, humility, and (if appropriate) humor. Focus on the heart of the issue(s). Look for opportunities to highlight the truth in some portion of other’s responses.
  3. Bring the Gospel to bear in all things. The Gospel is the answer to all things. Meaning, that the Gospel makes the most sense of our world, and all the issues therein. Look for where the Gospel can speak into the tensions of the issues at hand. Jesus affirms that He came to save a broken word in Luke’s Gospel-

Luke 4:18–19

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

because he has anointed me

to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives

and recovering of sight to the blind,

to set at liberty those who are oppressed,

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

He also affirms that He brings light to the darkness of our lives in John’s Gospel-

John 12:46

I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.

Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection provide both complete salvation and atonement for brokenness and sin, as well as give us a model for loving interaction.

Remember, when it comes right down to it, your opinion is not that important, (it’s likely that most issues in the national media will hardly touch your life personally, if at all) relative to what matters most — loving others in Jesus name. With the above three principles in mind, how will (do you) respond when controversy looms?



Gary Campbell Jr.

Writing for Groton Bible Chapel & the larger Body of Christ on cultural issues, parenting, marriage, theology & other light-weight topics.