Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Art Of Disagreement

You're Wrong, I'm Right

I think it's pretty evident that many people don't agree with me. But when you think about it, how many of us agree 100% with everything our friends and family believe? Parents and children often disagree on a wide range of issues. Even though a husband and wife are madly in love I would guess that they too do not see eye to eye on everything. Some of the biggest disagreements, sadly, occur between the brothers and sisters that make up the Church. These disagreements can be so vicious and bitter that it can physically and spiritually split a church in two. Since I find myself in constant disagreeements I would like to offer some suggestions on how to better disagree with those at home and in the Church.

, Be sure to keep the tone/volume of your voice in check. Too many times we let a simple difference of opinion turn into shouting matches. This happens because people assume incorrectly that in order for my opinion to win out I must talk over another's voice. The result is that you have a never ending escalation of volume. Each person trying to talk louder than the person before. Before you know it people are no longer upset about a person's opinion, but are upset from the lack of respect you feel when some shouts at you. Keep your tone calm and low so you can make the person feel comfortable and they will actually listen to what you have to say. It is when people feel uncomfortable or threaten that they tune out.

Second, You must be willing to concede the unknown. In case you haven't realized, YOU ARE NOT GOD. You are not omniscient or omnipresent. You are not the Alpha and Omega. You did not set the world's foundation. So that means your deepest convictions may be false or wrong. We're not on some debate team where you never yield to your opponent. We are simple finite creatures who have a limited understanding of the world around us. I believe deeply in christian pacifism, but I do not believe I am 100% right and that my belief in christian pacifism is infallible. If a disargeement is to meaningful, then you must concede that your position does have weaknesses and in the end may be wrong. You must be willing to admit you don't have all the answers. Both sides must be willing to concede to the unknown that all of us as humans cannot reach.

Third, Don't take it personal. A bitter disagreement inevitably turns personal. At some point the person will make it personal with a "What would YOU do if?". They put their opponent in all of these silly "what if" situations and ask them how they would respond in the hope of proving their point. The opponent typically out of spite will respond contrary to what he or she wanted to hear. Then moral accusations start flying and people start getting really angry. If a disagreement is to be productive, then do not put the other person is no-win situations in a vain hope to glorify yourself. Even if the other person wants to make it personal, then don't sink to their level. Take the high ground and people will listen to you.

So when you are in the heat of a disagreement this week please remember this advice. Also remember that the best thing about a democracy is the voice of dissent. If you are not willing to allow for the voice of dissent, then Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence are meaningless. Unity can exist is the midst of disagreement. It sounds strange, but we can find our unity in the understanding all of us disagree with each other on some level or another. Just because we disagree does not mean we cannot love one another. My prayer is that God will be with all of us as we try to loving perfect the art of disargreement.


Coming next week: The Essential Church


J-Wild 9:02 PM  

Amen! I love you man, great picture for this post by the way. You know there are some people out there who can't argue their position without getting too emotionally invested in it. That makes someone who disagrees with them personally attacking them. I am excited about any future portraits of disagreement AND agreement that we can make! Blog on my friend.

PS: Check out this blog about Jerusalem. It's awesome Negev Moon. The author is our friend who lives down stairs from us.

Anonymous,  12:25 PM  

Good post man.

i was just in your old stomping grounds last week and actually went to the Brooklyn Tabernacle. It was sweet to be in a church with so much diversity, and sad that it is so rare.

Congrats on UAB, but I was rooting for SMS (my old stomping grounds in SGF)


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