The Book of James and Online Arguments

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If there was ever a time of people fighting and quarreling it is today – mostly online, far less in person. It is so tempting to think that the fights we engage in with people are the other person’s fault – or they made us angry…if only they hadn’t said that…but what about the fact that the fight or argument intrigues us enough to dive in and get in the mud with the other person? What does that say about our own inner intentions, thoughts, and appetites? I think it says a lot and that often goes unchecked.

James 4:1-3 

“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” 

We need to own our own desires. No one makes you angry. You allow their emotions to bleed over into yours. That’s called enmeshment. It is emotional immaturity to be enmeshed with strangers…to desire approval or agreement from people you don’t even know, so much so you go out of control. No one forces you into an online or in person disagreement. There is something intriguing about a train wreck that is hard to look away from. We must keep our own evil impulses in check.

Why do people argue online? What is it they want? Or as Doctor Phil used to ask, “What’s in it for you?” Behavior is typically functional. It isn’t random. It has a purpose and on some level, even the craziest behavior “works” for people. Maybe you have a deep desire to want to be proven right and anyone who disagrees proven wrong. Is it possible to covet correctness?  I believe it is possible…not only possible…prevalent.

Instead of going to war over something with strangers, why not ask God to fill us? Why not ask God to take those empty places in our life and fill them with goodness – maybe it is an approval gap – ask God to help us find our approval need met only by Him! Maybe it is the deep need to be correct because we battle with insecurity and having our position challenged only makes us feel less than – pray and ask God to be sufficient for you. Maybe then we can understand our role in the system that is the online argument. They don’t happen in a vacuum and no, it isn’t always the other person whose intentions are impure. We must own that part that is ours to own. Only then can we find a path to wholeness. Only then can we see a train wreck of a conversation and freely move on without a hint of anxiety over what we missed or that they might think less of you.

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