Colleague S (for “secular”) comes out with a statement that is entirely wrong; say, about abortion. Colleague R (for “reader”; one of mine, that is) immediately counters.
R has, very broadly stated, two options.
The first is to politely point out that the Church has consistently been against abortion. It might work, though I doubt it. The problem with that is that whenever you present what the Church says as just an opinion, the natural reaction of the secular person is to reflect that he knows that, just as he knows (or so he thinks) that the Church is wrong.
The other option is the strong one. You tell your interlocutor that there can never be any justification for murdering a baby in the womb; which is why the Church always and consistently opposed it, and states that hell awaits those who commit such a heinous crime and die unrepentant. Bam.
S will not be pleased at the reaction. He will be angry at you. He might stop saying “good morning” when you arrive in the office (something, this, which seems strangely difficult to many office Brits anyway). But you can be sure of this: that whilst the polite disagreement, which does not add anything new or different to what he already knows, will immediately be deleted from his “internal hard drive”, the strong reaction will not be easily forgotten; perhaps it will, in fact, never be forgotten.
The fact is, the double whammy of strong statement and threat of hell is very rarely heard nowadays. This is why it will stick. It may be rejected. It will – initially – be rejected. But a seed will have been planted, that will stay there. This, my friends, is old evangelisation. A strong message, delivered strongly. The speciality of our great-grandmas and great-grandpas. The daily bread of our ancestors. The attitude commonly expected from every pulpit. Nowadays, even having a pulpit seems not nice enough.
With God's grace, this seed will start to sprout when conditions allow, which can be many, many years later. The statement having made an impression, the brain will recall it from the recesses of the memory also many years later. This is, literally, what “impression” means: the printing, the permanent mark of a statement or a situation in one's consciousness.
A mid-life crisis might happen one day. A bereavement. A grave disease. Any other kind of situation that knocks Secular Guy (or Secular Gal) out of his accustomed way of thinking. There is no saying what kind of seeds can begin to sprout in such situations, if they have been planted there in the first place.
Our duty is not to be liked. Our duty is to be truthful. I prefer to plant my seed at the price of hatred, but being sure the seed is there.
It is generally not true that gentle persuasion and suave words work. If this were the case, our softly-softly Catholic priests would have a huge following, and our churches would be full of zealous faithful so irresistibly won by their oh so soft, polite, whispered encouragements. It is beyond belief that after 50 years of failure there should still be those who never tire of telling us how honey attracts etc. Reality has spoken, and its verdict is resounding all over the Catholic world. Suave words only work, if at all, with those who already agree. And they could work, if seldom, only in a world already immersed in the very harsh truths of Catholicism. The Church of yesteryear could afford some honey, because it was made of iron. A church made of honey will go simply nowhere.
Read your Gospel, and see for yourself if Jesus refrained from very harsh words whenever the situation required it.
In many situations in life, the achievement of a given result demands that a price of sort be paid. You can't learn to play guitar just by wishing it. If you want to plant this particular seed, I am afraid you will have to pay that particular price. This is a mechanism inbuilt in Christianity, which functions in such a way that zeal attracts enmity or persecution. Methinks, Christ wanted it in this way so that by experiencing on an infinitely small scale what He endured on an infinitely vaster one, we may find another little way to unite our suffering to His; then this life isn't supposed to be a walk in the park.
If you are ready to pay the price of enmity for Christ you will receive a hundredfold what you have paid, with persecutions. That's the way it is, it's just how Christianity works.
Colleague S will not be pleased with you. You might notice he starts, perhaps, mocking or isolating you behind your back. He might well make you appear a jerk and a bigot with those – very many – who are like minded; but your deed will not go unnoticed in heaven, and your seed will hopefully sprout one day.
Make your point in a strong way. Impress it on your interlocutor.
Suave encouragements only persuade those already persuaded.