How Shall We Speak?

How should we as believers in Christ talk with one another when we disagree on theology, or politics, or ethics? How do we carry ourselves when communicating with someone who disagrees adamantly about something we feel strongly about? I have a few thoughts and I’m hoping they’re helpful.

Speaking to Christians We Disagree With

Regardless of our identification, Christian or non-Christian, we are all made in the image of God. We all, as humans, from the biggest to the smallest, have dignity and worth. Every human has value and so does their experience and perspective – even if we disagree with it.

Do you see each human being as a beautiful symphony or beautiful masterpiece crafted by the great fingertips of God? How might that perspective change your demeanor towards them? Do you see a human being marked by the scars of this world with their own unique experience? Their own pain and disappointments?  Or, are they simply a debate opponent?

When speaking with believers, I believe we need to always keep one core thing in mind – we are united by Christ. No matter what your feelings are towards this person, or your knowledge on the subject is, nothing changes the fact that your bond is in blood. Jesus didn’t die so that we would squabble like petulant children. Jesus prayed during his darkest hours for unity (John 17) and it is not something to be tossed aside. When you look at the person you are debating, do you see a royal child loved by God? Do you see family? Also, if you remember who you are in Christ you’ll be less likely to be abrasive. Defensiveness comes from feeling threatened and you can’t feel as threatened when you have an assurance of your identity.

In all this, remember Paul’s charge: “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:1-3).

Have Perspective on The Issue at Hand

It’s good to remember that not every issue is a core issue or non- negotiable. Yes, we should be passionate about our convictions but not everything carries the same weight as, say, the deity of Christ or the cross. Assess the issue at hand and go from there. Also remember that if it’s not a core issue then you can disagree and still maintain a strong connection and kinship with the other person. Disagreement does not have to include the loss of admiration.

Don’t Assume Their Point is Stupid

You are not the only one with access to knowledge. Whether it’s the guy next door or a different continent, this world is full of people with great knowledge and experience and many of them have thought through their point and are just as passionate as you. Take them seriously and listen. Assume that what they are saying (outside of blatant heresy or evil) is something worth hearing.

Listen to Their Story

Lastly I would challenge you to get personal, to hear their story. This is your brother or sister in Christ and the least you can do is give them your ear for a small amount of time. If you find yourself saying, “I don’t see how anyone could believe [insert position here],” listen because they are trying to tell you! Hearing their story will give you an insight into that person’s dreams and ambitions, their victories and failures, their biases and assumptions, their knowledge and experience. And in this you’ll probably find out how they arrived to some of their conclusions. Hopefully in all this you’ll have a discussion free of defensiveness and anger. Instead, you will have two children of God showering grace and encouragement upon each other with their words and conduct.

Peace be with you.

Servant Of God. Son of an immigrant. Husband of Jess. Dad of Maverick. Fan of C.S. Lewis, Scotch, and kickboxing.