Christian, women

Should We Argue With An Atheist?

Have you ever discussed the Gospel with an atheist? Has another blogger ever attacked you for praising Jesus?

I’ve been in a long conversation, with an avowed atheist. It all started when he commented on my post, “Why What You Believe Matters”. This person is very hostile toward Christians and he is hostile to the Gospel. He writes a blog that condemns Christianity and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In my naivity, I thought I could talk sense into this person.

I mentioned this to my 86 year-old father, and do you know what he said? “Don’t cast your pearls before swine.”

I hadn’t even thought of that! I was only thinking, “How can I help this person? This is so sad.” My heart ached for him.

Although I had heard Matthew 7:6 many times, I looked up the verse in my Bible and started trying to figure out what Jesus meant. After searching this out, I came to the conclusion that Jesus really was saying (in my own words), “This won’t help them. It will only hurt you.”

It was difficult for me to accept this teaching, even if Jesus did say it. I kept looking for a different interpretation. I thought I must be misunderstanding the verse. I kept thinking I needed to say more, pray more.

It took quite a bit of prayer and study to feel confident that I understood Matthew 7:6 correctly. The King James Version says,

“Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”

You have to admit, that’s rather harsh! What does Jesus mean? No matter which translation you read, it clearly says the same thing! I never had a problem with this verse before, but now that it applied to me personally, in real life, it wasn’t easy to accept. The NIV says,

“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” Matthew 7:6 NIV Read full chapter Matthew 7:6 in all English translations

Next, I decided to check commentary from Christian writers I trusted. Here’s what they said:

BibleRef.com To be called a dog or a pig was a great insult in Jesus’ culture. Still, He does not hesitate to compare those who reject Him as Israel’s Messiah to dogs and pigs. Crucially, though, His purpose is not to degrade anyone. The emphasis is not on other people, but on God’s people. This verse is a warning to Christians: don’t waste time or invite harassment from those who are obviously hostile.

GotQuestions.org In His sermon, Jesus uses dogs and pigs as representative of those who would ridicule, reject, and blaspheme the gospel once it is presented to them. We are not to expose the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who have no other purpose than to trample it and return to their own evil ways. Repeatedly sharing the gospel with someone who continually scoffs and ridicules Christ is like casting pearls before swine.

The command not to cast your pearls before swine does not mean we refrain from preaching the gospel. Jesus Himself ate with and taught sinners and tax collectors (Matthew 9:10). In essence, the instruction in Matthew 7:6 is the same that Jesus gave to His apostles when He said, “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town” (Matthew 10:14). We are to share the gospel, but, when it becomes apparent that the gospel is not welcome, we are to move on. We are responsible to share the good news; we are not responsible for people’s response to the good news. Pigs don’t appreciate pearls, and some people don’t appreciate what Christ has done for them. Our job is not to force conversions or cram the gospel down people’s throats; there’s no sense in preaching the value of pearls to swine. Jesus’ instruction to His apostles on how to handle rejection was to simply go elsewhere. There are other people who need to hear the gospel, and they are ready to hear it.

John MacArthur: “When people not only reject the gospel, but insist on mocking and reviling it, we are not to waste God’s holy Word and the precious pearls of His truth in a futile and frustrating attempt to win them. We are to leave them to the Lord, trusting that somehow His Spirit can penetrate their hearts-as He apparently did with some of those who at first rejected the preaching of Paul and the other apostles-or leaving them to the just judgment of God.”

********************

It’s not just that you are wasting your time. It is harmful to you. Let’s look at the verse one more time.

“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”

This is exactly what happened. I explained the love of God and the Good News of the Gospel. He denigrated the Bible, slandered Jesus, and called me names. Jesus clearly teaches us how to deal with it. I have cut off discussion with this person and in the future I will not engage with an openly hostile atheist.

If you have been through a similar experience, I hope this look at Matthew 7:6 will help you, as it did me. Have you encountered this in your ministry? What did you do? If you believe I have misinterpreted these words of Jesus, I welcome correction.

With Love, Cindy

Click this link to learn more about Jesus: Who Is Jesus?

Photo by Tiffany Anthony on Unsplash

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28 thoughts on “Should We Argue With An Atheist?”

  1. You covered this well Cindy, I keep the following on a Note Tab to remind myself of when to enter in and when to avoid Vain Debates:

    For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (2 Tim 3:2-5)

    * “But shun profane and idle babbling, for they will increase to more ungodliness.” (2 Tim 2:16)
    * “Avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife.” (2 Tim 2:23)

    Matthew 7:6 NIV “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”

    If someone is asking a serious question, I will respond, but be careful because there are many who are not really asking questions, but merely want to showcase their abilities to destroy you, to others. I’ve seen this many times. Once you know that they are not seriously looking for answers, just back off. Wish them a great day and wave goodbye.

    Excellent post! Blessings!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for sharing your advice! I will include those verses in my notes. This has been a new experience for me. Sometimes I wonder why I have to learn everything “the hard way”! But, I have to believe God has allowed me to experience these things for a reason. I could have written a lot more about the spiritual warfare involved, but I left that out to keep the post focused on Matthew 7:6. God has opened my eyes to a whole different world. It’s hard to believe someone would devote their life to tearing down the Gospel message. I am thankful for our friendship. You have helped me many times, Brother. Many blessings to you and Peggy!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Don’t be discouraged by what God shows you, it’s all good when you stop to think about it and it never stops. It just makes me aware of how much I have yet to learn and the wisdom of God as voiced through His Son. Talk about babes in the woods! You’re a blessing Cindy, truly.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I read your post with great interest and sympathy, I too struggle with this issue. I have always been aware of Matthew 7:6 as I was taught it as a young believer many years ago. In my opinion if someone is willing to discuss the gospel in a reasonable manner it is worth pursuing, up to the point where you have presented the truth and the rest is up to the other party. But when it is volatile and hostile, as you describe in your contact, it is wise to leave it with the Lord and the individual in question. I recently finished Proverbs and I sure there is a verse in there regarding this issue, I looked back my notes to no avail. But I did find this in my journal:
    “He who separates himself seeks his own desire,
    He quarrels against all sound wisdom.
    A fool does not delight in understanding,
    But only in revealing his own mind.
    — Proverbs 18:1-2”
    Thank you for this thoughtful post Cindy, may our Father God bless and guide you this weekend sister.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Alan. I, also, recently finished reading Proverbs. This experience makes me want to read it again! I will add Proverbs 18:1-2 to my notes. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. I appreciate your advice and wisdom. God is faithful! Many blessings, my Brother in Christ!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yet another verse, just seen in Bruce Cooper’s post today:
    1 Corinthians 1:18 NIV “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have all kinds of readers on my blog, because it doesn’t have any specific topic, and there’s some very nice non-believers there. They don’t call themselves “atheist,” they just don’t know what to believe.

    I’ve let them know that if they want to know more, I’m here to help. They seemed to appreciate it, and ask questions sometimes.

    But if I get a rude comment (which hasn’t happened yet) I would just ignore it. People online love to argue~ they HATE being ignored.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I absolutely agree! I am not talking about unbelievers. Of course we should tell unbelievers about Jesus! I am talking about people who denigrate the name of Jesus and fight against the truth. Your blog is a bright light in the darkness. All kinds of people read it and you share Jesus. Many blessings, Yari!

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Hi Cindy,
    God showed me the verse about “throwing my pearls to swine” long ago. I am very familiar and have had to remind myself of it and bite my tongue often. I have children and family members that test me. I carry a burden for them but I believe God planted something inside of each of us like a homing pigeon. God also calls some and opens the eyes and ears of some, but those who continue to reject God, His Spirit leaves them. You can only grieve the Holy Spirit so long.
    All I can do for anyone is share the truth that I have if they ask me for “a reason for the hope that I have” or pray for them when God places them on my heart. We are called to be a light in the world but we don’t have to succumb to the darkness. It will get you down. Leave the rest to God, the salvation of others who have hardened hearts and for a time are blinded by the world. They can not see what you see. It does not mean they never will. It is God’s will, God’s timing, God’s plan for His Glory. He is Sovereign in all he does and knows what is best for us.
    All my children are in God’s hands, even my son who calls himself an Atheist.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. I like what you said: “They can not see what you see. It does not mean they never will.” Those are encouraging words. My brother calls himself an atheist. After years of pleading with him, I have had to turn it over to God. Many blessings, Cathy!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We may not be the tool God uses to reach them. Keep on praying. It is my biggest heartache, even more than the six years that have gone by with him being a “prodigal” in my life. He won’t talk to me or visit our family. It is as if I am loosing him twice. God willing, he will see the “LIGHT”.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I really like how you explained this Cindy.
    I can relate to thinking that we have to keep trying to share the gospel but if someone is not receptive we really cannot do much can we. But the verse you speak about- that it truly is for our protection that God says that, I never did focus on that part before. I am going to remember that.
    Thank you Cindy 🌺🤗

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I never really saw it before, either. But there it is. Clearly stated by Jesus. “they may … turn and tear you to pieces.” Thanks for commenting, Perth. I always love to hear from you. Many blessings!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Sally. I will always tell anyone who will listen about Jesus and what He has done for me. I didn’t realize, until now, that there is a time when we are to walk away. I just never came across this situation before, where I was addressed by someone truly hostile to the Gospel, someone who denigrated Christ on a blog. It’s hard to believe! Thanks for reading. Many blessings, my friend!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Thanks alot, I have been dealing with this issue. I got caught up in an argument with some atheists who call themselves ex Christians and it was frustrating that they plainly insult the gospel. I think I will know how to deal with it better. I mean someone tells you they are Truth seekers and tomorrow they are insulting Christianity in bold Words ,almost told them I’m a Truth keeper , I mean truth defender because Christ is Truth, but I chose not to, now I can’t remember why.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If we could sit down with Jesus face to face, I’m sure He could explain it completely. But we have to take what the Bible says and obey it. The Bible has many verses on this topic. (See comments section.) We are clearly told not to engage with openly hostile atheists. Thank you for sharing your experience with me. Many blessings, Emily!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks for this post and godly advice Cindy. It’s a good explanation of this scripture. I have fallen in this trap myself in the past and have ended up in arguments which is not healthy, hurtful things can get said and it is not honouring to the Lord. Bless you.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I agree with your perspective, Cindy, and thank you for the clear presentation.
    I think of several verses that tie into Isaiah 6.10 “…lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.”
    God simply intends for some to remain deaf and blind, for reasons unknown to us. But, I agree also that we are to continue to present the gospel to whomever we meet, because God doesn’t tell us who is who.

    Liked by 1 person

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