The Church, like a nation, must defend herself and her faith. She must fight for the truth and for the salvation of souls. This demands doing battle, for which reason we call ourselves the Church Militant. Like a nation, however, the Church also encounters a danger: that the fighting spirit of the Church Militant turn against her. The danger is not of fighting—but of only fighting, and fighting in the wrong way. The danger is that the Church become not the New Jerusalem, but the New Sparta. And Sparta was known for only one thing: fighting. Ruthlessly, effectively, heroically at times, but only fighting. Sparta produced no great artwork, poetry, plays, or philosophy. It produced only war.
In short, the risk is to cease being the Church Militant and to become instead the "Church Belligerent." This term describes not so much a specific group of people as a certain attitude, mindset, or approach. It indicates the necessary fighting spirit of the Church Militant severed from the principle of charity. And it constitutes a hazard—not for those who think that the past forty years have been a catechetical and liturgical success, not for those who see no need to evangelize, not for those waiting for the Church to be updated. Rather, it poses a threat precisely to those—to us—who take the demands of the Church Militant seriously, who see the crisis in society and within the Church, who recognize the catechetical and liturgical fallout of almost four decades, and who desire to enter into the battle for souls.
1. You don't have to be right.
What I mean is: you don't have to be seen as winning the debate. You should witness, prudentially, especially for the lurkers reading the blog or the combox. You should try to persuade, but you don't have to convince.
2. That username on your screen: he's a human being,too.
Few people are downright evil. Don't assume too much about their parenting skills, sex lives, moral character, professional competence or anything else based on their opinions. Get into the habit of making the most charitable assumption, until you receive evidence to the contrary. You don't know anything about the person you're debating with, even if you think you do.
3. A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down
I think many orthodox Catholics are suspicious of playing up feelings because our culture has made feelings more important than truth. But creating positive feelings is the way to efficiently spread truth. If you behave in a way that makes someone feels positive about themselves, their hearts are more likely to be opened to what you have to say.
4. Remember that the devil will use ANYTHING he can to get you to sin, including your own orthodoxy.
For instance, he can make you angry and foul-mouthed against liberals. He can inspire you to disobey competent authority. He can inspire pride. He can inspire schism.
Orthodoxy is really important. It's not more important than charity, humility and obedience.
H/T: Catholic Canuck