I’m sure you’ve all seen the rampage of political arguments happening right about now. Facebook was never intended to be used for this many insults to be thrown at “friends.” This division taking over my country is breaking my heart. I know a lot of my opinions are not popular, and even on the ones that are, I know that someone will always disagree with me. This article is not about those opinions but how I choose to express them to someone who disagrees with me. Believe it or not, you can be friends with people on the other side of the political spectrum.
For example, until fairly recently, I knew someone (who shall remain nameless) who was insistent that women should not have the right to vote. He changed his mind when women became eligible for the draft, but before then, there were many hours devoted to conversation on this topic. I could have shouted in his face. I could have graffitied his truck with suffragette slogans from the 20s. (Yes, from the 20s, because this should not still be an issue we are dealing with in 21st century America.) In fact, I probably did call him an idiotic twit a number of times. But for the most part, we calmly talked about the issue. I’m not saying it was easy; I’m not saying it was quick. We’ve spent hours discussing the issue, and I have certainly wanted to strangle him more than once. But I do still love this person and have been able to use that love as my foundation to address this topic with my authentic disagreement, but also that authentic love.
You might be thinking, “Well did you change his mind?” No, no I didn’t. But answer me this: if I had gotten all up in his face, insisting that he was wrong, would that have changed his mind? We as humans are very prideful beings. We don’t like to admit that we are wrong, but we can sometimes bring ourselves to do it when the stakes are low. But if someone is challenging us, if someone is insisting we are an idiot for believing the way we do, we will NOT admit we are wrong — even if we later discover we actually were wrong. We won’t admit we were wrong because doing so would be to admit to also being the idiot that the “someone challenging us” claimed we were. And we can’t bring ourselves to do that. So while calm discussions might not always change someone’s mind, they certainly have a better chance to than the alternative.The next obvious question is where do we draw the line? Where is the boundary between rude and abrasive versus calm yet strongly persuasive? In all honesty, I can’t tell you. I myself have difficulty discerning that line. Disagreeing with someone is not inherently unkind; that’s on the safe side of the line. On the other hand, destroying people’s belongings is obviously on the other side. I think we cross the line when we forget the fact that we are talking to a fellow human being. A question you have to keep asking yourself is, “What do I care more about? Building relationships, or being right? And are my actions reflecting that?” As a Christian, I believe relationships are more important. “[Love] does not insist on its own way” (1 Corinthians 13:5b). We need to remember that the person we are talking to is also created in God’s image. God loves them. We should too.