By April Terry (personal blog http://faithwarming.blogspot.com)
Sometimes, I engage in conversations online about matters of faith. Online, it is often easier to become uncivil in the way that we interact with one another. I am learning some interesting things about how we engage in these conversations and debate matters of faith:
- It gets personal. It always gets personal. We want to believe that we aren’t being personal, but it is. Sometimes, in discussion with others, we feel they are undermining our faith, but it isn’t always the case. Many times, others are just bringing different experiences into a discussion. If we refuse to listen to the experiences of others, we limit the possibility for growth for our own experiences. Empathy is an important trait to have in a conversation.
- People head straight for labels when the going gets rough. Labels are just another way of name-calling. When we throw around labels, we are dividing people from each other. The more broadly we divide people from one another, the easier it is for us to isolate our own opinions and protect
them as the truest. We don’t grow under those circumstances because growth comes from being open to other ideas.
- Playing the sin card. Some people stop the possibility of healthy discussion with the broken assumption that if someone disagrees with them, they have fallen prey to a serious sin problem. The truth is we all have a sin problem. We can’t cast aside an opposing opinion without consideration simply because it’s different from our own. Some people cling to the idea that there is only one way to Christ—their way. Even if you’re a Christian, you could be labeled as a wrong-believing Christian if you don’t see it the way they do. This not only divides, but it closes the door to discussions that might ultimately be useful to us in the future.
- Many Christians present themselves in prideful ways. Some of us point to sexual sins with anger and disgust, but have failed to root out pride from our own lives. More than any other deadly sin, I would think that the people of our generation have fallen prey to an epidemic of pride. A little humility goes a long way in a conversation.
- We shouldn’t go into a conversation to win, but rather to learn. If we are engaged in a conversation with the sole purpose of winning the argument, nobody wins. The objective must be to learn more about one another and then to learn more about our own faith as well as the ways that others have approached their faith in God. When learning is our goal, it is always easier to understand opposing views without shutting them down or shutting them out.
People of the Jewish faith argue the elements of their faith regularly. They study, discuss and argue virtually every part of the bible over and over. It has been one of the unique traits of the Jewish tradition, and Judaism represents the roots of our own faith. We are doing ourselves a disservice if we stop allowing for discussion, argument, and interpretation and take a more black and white viewpoint. Ideologies change with every nuance and unfolding transformation within our culture and therefore, we must always be seeking new ways to interpret the bible through the lens of the ever-changing cultural shifts as we go along. We aren’t compromising our faith by doing that, we are allowing it to become more relevant and meaningful within the current context.
Why is it important to face opposing opinions with grace, patience, and open-mindedness? I believe that none of us can pretend to know the mind of God. He is a mysterious God who outsmarts even the greatest among us, but approaching our faith in a graceful, understanding way says more about Christ’s followers than a haughty argument ever could. We need to learn to love our way out of our own box. Love is a great bridge-builder. It unites us with one another and allows us to love those who disagree with us. Love is hard to argue with because everyone believes in it. Not everyone exercises it, but everyone believes in it. Bring love into a conversation and it will always float to the top.
December 3rd, 2012 · 2 Comments
Categories: DE Thoughts