Right now in our culture, there is a societal trend of rudeness, disrespect, and toxicity. No matter what the issue, disrespect, and anger seem to be the result. Masks. Trump. Police. Race. Biden. Vaccine. Gender. Inflation. Gas prices. Global warming. Immigration. Whatever the issue, the result seems to be toxic division in our relationships, our churches, and our nation.
An ideological virus is infecting minds with the belief that if someone disagrees with you, they are oppressing and threatening you. The popular belief that a differing perspective needs to be combated with a hateful response is resulting in division and false feelings of validation. Agenda-based “news”, disrespectful leaders, social media, and self-righteous talk-show hosts all contribute to this one-sided viewpoint. The Bible tells us to battle the virus by not becoming “conformed to the patterns of this world” (Rom. 12:2). Here are 5 ways to communicate even when you disagree.
How To Communicate Even When You Disagree
James says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger...” (James 1:19). Now, the opposite seems to be pervasive. We tend to be slow to listen, quick to speak, and quick to anger. What if instead of trying to make sure you are heard, you make sure to seek to fully understand? If you are a strong Democrat, do you seek to fully understand the Republican view (and vice versa)? If you are pro-vaccine, do you take time to understand why some are hesitant to be vaccinated?
Let’s not be the fool who “delights in airing their own opinions” (Prov. 18:2) and who “shows his annoyance at once” (Prov. 12:16). Instead, let your “gentleness be evident to all” (Phil. 4:5) and remember that “[a] gentle answer turns away wrath, while a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1).
Christians are to be marked by love, not by their ability to argue. Remember the call to love our enemies and to treat others well who treat us poorly (Matt. 5:43; Luke 6:32-33). Make it your goal to be sure those with differing views feel loved and heard. Fight disrespect with respect, harshness with kindness, and anger with peace.
As believers, we are united under the Truth. The Truth is what sets us free, not the personal, political, or cultural opinions we are often guilty of holding tighter than our Savior. This sets a precedent to others that we would rather have our way on earth than store up treasures in heaven.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Is it easy for others to disagree with me? Do I find myself getting angry when hearing differing viewpoints?
- Do I look for opportunities to push conversations toward topics I feel strongly about?
- Do I spend a lot of time watching the “news” and harsh talk shows that affirm my existing positions?
- Am I easily triggered or angered?
- Do I have friends who differ from me politically and spiritually?
- Do I post or share disrespectful posts on social media?
Nothing in this article diminishes the importance of boldly standing up for the Truth and being willing to endure persecution for standing up for what is right. The point is that we cannot compromise the fruit of the Spirit in the process.
The ability to have a healthy, peaceful discussion on areas of disagreement is crucial in marriage. Often couples do not see eye to eye on finances, parenting, political issues, and much more. The issue is whether both spouses can be loving, graceful, and respectful despite their differences on key issues. Remember the words of Psalm 133:1: “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.”
5 Ways To Communicate Even When You Disagree
Here are some practical first steps in moving toward unity and peace:
- If you are married and have a different perspective on an issue, spend time just seeking to understand your spouse’s perspective. Make this a habit in all your relationships.
- As a couple, if you have a different perspective on an issue, spend time seeking to understand your spouse’s perspective.
- Significantly limit and/or fast from social media and the news.
- Don’t make a practice of listening to talk show hosts or influencers that don’t exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. As a pastor once told me, “We are self-righteous enough without any encouragement.”
- Do not share or laugh at posts or slogans that are demeaning or disrespectful.
We cannot expect others to understand and consider our views if we are not willing to listen to theirs. If we want to grow in influence, we must be kind and gentle, not harsh and rude.
Brad Rhoads and his daughter Kate Bradley Rhoads co-wrote this post.