cross-posted from the Tennessee Tenth Amendment Center

Can I ask you a question?

Do you remember the junior high prank that starts with that phrase? It would usually be followed with a request to restrict your answer to a simple “yes or no”.  For maximum effect, this prank is usually done in front of a large group of people.

The question would usually be along these lines:

Does your mother know you are pregnant?
Does so and so know you have a crush on them?

How does the prank work?

Most people freeze like a deer staring into headlights coming right at them.

The hesitation comes from the realization that no matter which way you answer, yes or no, you lose. The stunned hesitation makes the prank even more effective as people wonder why you won’t answer the question. The other common response;  arguing, includes a defensive tone which allows the questioner to climb up on the superiority seat and repeat the question condescendingly “ don’t get so excited, just answer yes or no”…

Aren’t you glad you aren’t in junior high anymore so you don’t have to deal with deceptive “no win questions?”

Alas, that was a trick question as well…

This same technique is actually used by media pundits every day as they frame issues for your consideration.

The media asks questions like:

  1. Do you think the politicians should have compromised on debt ceiling issue for the good of the country?
  2. Shouldn’t people that are doing well financially be the ones to endure a tax increase?
  3. Are you ok with taking a risk on eating vegetables or dairy that might give you food poisoning?
  4. Should the Federal government intervene when states discriminate against protected class citizens?
  5. Do you think the authorities should be tough on domestic terrorism?
  6. Should emotionally unstable/volatile people be permitted to carry and/or own weapons?
  7. Do you support our troops?

The media’s questions are often “no win questions.”

Their questions often frame the debate in such a way that no matter how you answer, they have already won.  Dealing with “no win questions” requires great wisdom.

Ancient King Solomon of Israel was renowned for his wisdom. He sometimes sat as judge on really tough domestic disputes. He was once brought a case (1 Kings 3) where two women who were living together when both had newborns and one died. They were arguing  about who was the biological mother of the living child. His way of solving the case was so brilliant (pre-DNA-testing) that many people are still talking about it thousands of years later.  His brilliance was that he didn’t engage the women in a debate about their stories and perspectives. He went straight to the heart of the issue.

So what was Solomon’s wisdom for dealing with no win questions?

Proverbs 26:4
“Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him.” Solomon

Solomon invites the reader of proverbs to recognize the fool’s folly before considering the question.

Proverbs 26:5
“Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.” Solomon

Solomon goes on to say that we do need to provide an answer, of sorts. Some translators and commentators have noted that “according to his folly” can also be translated “as his folly deserves”.

How did Jesus handle “no win questions”?

He did not shrink back from questioning the questioner’s motives and he did not reply to their question directly, he usually answered their question with a question.

Luke 20:22:

Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” 23But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, 24“Show me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.” 25He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 26And they were not able in the presence of the people to catch him in what he said, but marveling at his answer they became silent.

How should we deal with “no win questions”?

1)    Personally, we should develop the practice of questioning the question instead of accepting it at face value.

Questioning the media and the government is unnatural for many people today because in our politically correct society distrust of authority is frowned upon. In fact, persistent distrust may get you branded as a “conspiracy theory nut” or domestic terrorist.  The fact remains, the government and media are comprised of people and people are prone to lying and scheming in order to get their way. Solomon and Jesus questioned motives, so you will be in good company.

2)    We should discern the agenda hiding behind their question and expose it with a question of our own as we discuss the issues with fellow citizens.

For example:

Question: Does your mother know you are pregnant?
Counter Question: Do your friends know you like to ambush people with intentionally misleading questions?

Or we can review the questions the media likes to pose to us and think about how to “answer them”:

  1. Do you think the politicians should have compromised on debt ceiling issue for the good of the country?
    Counter Question: Do you believe our unbalanced budget is a spending issue or a revenue issue?
  2. Are you ok with taking a risk on eating vegetables or dairy that might give you food poisoning?
    Counter Question: How is it that for thousands of years people safely ate food that wasn’t inspected by the FDA?
  3. Should the Federal government intervene when states discriminate against protected class citizens?
    Counter Question: Who formed the Federal Government and what powers did those parties (states) retain?
  4. Do you think the authorities should be tough on domestic terrorism?
    Counter Question: Do you believe that innocent until proven guilty is still a valid principle?
  5. Should emotionally unstable / volatile people be permitted to carry and/or own weapons?
    Counter Question: Do you think there were emotional people around when the Constitution and Second Amendment was written?
  6. Do you support our troops?
    Counter Question: What advice would you offer to a Nazi guard at a concentration camp who felt guilty about following his orders?

Waging a war of questions

It’s time that we the people employed the wisdom of Solomon and the wisdom of Jesus. Why should we let the usurpers frame the debates?  We need to question the questioners with a barrage of questions. We also need to question our neighbors and take the information distribution job back from consolidated media.  It would be foolish to continue to answer the questions that fools ask.

Let’s reframe the debate. Let’s refuse to be told what to think. Let’s ask questions that matter.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Jesus – John 8:32

“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”  Thomas Jefferson

Durable Faith
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