Disagreements seem to have become the norm these days, even within our tight-knit military communities. Muriel challenges us to season those heated discussions with salt and rise up above them.
Disagreements Seasoned With Salt
by Muriel Gregory
You might remember the dress debate that went viral a few years ago. Was the dress white and gold or was it blue and black? Thousands of people voiced their opinions and openly disagreed over a trivial topic. Arguments arose, and justifications abounded.
Disagreements are a big part of our lives and, most of the time, stem from our varied perspectives on life, upbringing, cultural background, and personal taste. Our beliefs shape our opinions, which often clash with someone else’s view, and a disagreement is born.
The dress incident was trivial, but too often, disagreements turn sour and result in full-blown conflicts. Let me name a few current topics that quickly escalate from a difference of opinion to deadly arguments:
- Presidential election
- Refugee crisis
- Mask or no mask etc.
On the battlefield, mishandled disagreements can potentially lead to mission failure.
I avoid conflict like the plague. When I disagree with a person, I tend to change the topic before entering the conflict zone. It is, however, not the best way to handle the situation. Jesus has a better option for us. Disagreements potentially give us the opportunity to rise up and build.
“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness, God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth.”
2 Timothy 2:24-25
CS Lewis discussed the anatomy of disagreement in a short essay titled Why I am not a Pacifist. He names four components that build our opinions:
- Perceived facts: data we gather either directly through our own experiences or other people.
- Intuition: indisputable truths that stem from logic or morality
- Reasoning: how we arrange the data and facts to produce the evidence to our claim
- Authority: what is the source of our moral authority.
Frequently, we skip step four even though it is the most important one.
Let’s go back to our dress example to see how this would work out.
- Perceived facts: I am looking at the picture and see that the dress is gold and white.
- Intuition: other people agree with me; thus, I must be right.
- Reasoning: since it is indisputable that the dress is gold and white, the people disputing this fact are wrong, and I am right.
Had anyone taken the time to seek the authority regarding that question, disagreements would have ceased. If you would like to know, the dress was black and blue (yes, I was wrong), and an eyewitness confirmed it.
As Christians, our authority is Christ. As Paul reminded the church in Corinth, we need to “take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)
Here is what I am learning when I face disagreements:
- Discern the nature of the difference in opinion. Is there a moral issue at hand, or is it a question of taste or personal preference? There is no need to argue all night whether navy is the new black or which Christian artist is the best. It is perfectly acceptable to agree to disagree.
- Be aware of my biases and fears. Do I seek people’s approval? Am I becoming angry? Our inner desires can often lead us astray.
- Have a humble spirit. In all humility, I need to test the authority behind the presented claim. I have been wrong at times.
Paul advised young Timothy to dress himself with kindness, gentleness, and patience when approaching other people. Those qualities are all the more important when we find ourselves in opposition. Our voice and our attitude need to reflect that of Christ, who is our ultimate authority. We should not conform to this world (Romans 12:1).
Rise Up Above Disagreements
Pause Pause to listen to the other person truly. Pause to assess the situation.
Pray God let my speech be gracious and seasoned with salt that I may know how to answer this person. (Colossians 4:6)
Build Speak the truth in love that we may all grow up in Christ. (Ephesians 4:15)
Lord, our world has its share of disagreements over many issues. Those divisions have strained friendships and divided families. May we be the bearer of your truth and treat others with kindness, gentleness, and patience. Amen.