The more I try to study the Bible, the more confused I am.
Proverbs 9: 7-8 says
Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult;
whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse.
Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you;
rebuke a wise man and he will love you.
Before explaining my confusion with this passage, I’ll define my interpretation of the language. First, a “mocker” would be today’s “hater.” That definition can be expanded to include more, but for brevity, let’s stick with “hater.” Haters gotta hate; we see it everyday all over social media.
Secondly, “rebuke” is not just “tell someone they’re wrong,” but to try to correct misinformation so that the person could have a better informed opinion (and hopefully make better decisions).
Here’s my confusion:
I get that trying to explain sense or even just a different point of view to someone who is absolutely determined to not consider any other conclusion other than the one they already have is useless. I get that. We see it all the time. Discourse cannot happen unless everyone involved is really listening to one another. Again, we see this every day not only on twitter (for example) but in our politics, “news” casts, and popular culture. People take sides, create hashtags and catchy phrases designed to empower one person at the humiliation of another — and all we do is listen less and hate more.
How do we balance the moral imperative to be compassionate, to foster kindness and respect between people, if we don’t at least try to point out how current choices feed the exact opposite? If I think I’m being a social justice warrior, but really I’m just spewing as much hate as the people I oppose, isn’t it an act of kindness for someone to say to me, “uh, tone down your language. You’re being offensive, and though your point may be valid, your delivery makes it impossible for it to be heard?”
How can we tell if a “mocker” wants to become “wise” but doesn’t know how? Isn’t it unkind to not try to help?