Tag Archives: changing an argument so the other person can’t possibly win

Strawman Monday: Heads, I Win; Tails, You Lose

29 Oct

Ephesians 4:26, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:”

A particularly hostile type of strawman argument I have seen comes up when a person is, well, just plain in the throes of a grudge against another person so that nothing that other person could do would ever please her.

This type of strawman argument is often used against people in ministry, in my experience as an onlooker for 54 years so far.  Person A will have an invisible list of demands that she thinks a person in ministry should fulfill in her life and . . . the ministry person/people are, of course, blind to that invisible list of demands.  So they proceed, as human beings, loving Person A as best they can (but, of course, imperfectly, because they are human beings) and Person A goes off on them with a strawman argument that can’t be won because its terms are invisible!  And if, by any chance, the ministry person does make a valid point, Person A will turn the argument completely around so that it seems as if she expected something completely different anyway.

Sometimes Person A will argue both sides of an issue within the same discussion.

Like this (seeing as I am on the East Coast and we are in the midst of a hurricane today):

Person A:  I was really surprised you didn’t ask me to stay at your house during the hurricane.  You know I am a single woman, alone.

Pastor and his wife:  We did call you three times during the storm, but you didn’t seem to be picking up.

Person A:  I was leaving my line open for emergency updates from work.  But you could have texted.

Pastor and his wife:  Actually, when we couldn’t reach you, we did text.

Person A:  That text came in at 9:31 PM.  I don’t take texts after 9:30.

Pastor and his wife:  We weren’t sure what to think after we tried to contact you four times and couldn’t get you.

Person A:  Well, I am a very private person so you shouldn’t really keep me under a microscope like that!  (reminder:  this is the person who two minutes before had said she wanted to be under the same roof with them during the hurricane!!!).

Okay, that is a bit of hyperbole, but I have seen conversations take similar tacks many times when people have grudges and want to grind a mental ax.

Sheesh!  Sometimes people, especially ministry people, can’t catch a break no matter what they do!

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