I’ve always enjoyed a good debate. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been opinionated and argumentative. Once, I even played devil’s advocate in the middle of a young adults group on my first visit.
I like to think I’ve softened over the years, and I’ve gotten better about admitting when I’m wrong and abandoning an idea when my opposition presents a better one. But I haven’t stopped debating and I hope I never do.
I actually like it when people disagree with me sometimes. Yes, it can get annoying and yes, I do usually want them to see things my way. And yes, sometimes I can be a real control freak about it.
But the older I get, the more I realize that there are two sides to every story and it really helps to see both.
There are certain core beliefs (mainly Christian) that I will not budge on, but when it comes to little stuff, I really think it serves people better to have an open mind.
I find it funny that in the secular world, Christians hold the distinction of being close-minded, and yet America is literally drenched in Political Correctness. You may not disagree with anyone and you may not tell them that you think they’re wrong.
But I need people to tell me I’m wrong sometimes. Why? Because I’m wrong sometimes.
I once received a comment on this blog from a gentleman who said he’d enjoyed a post I’d written but disagreed with me on a point I’d made. I immediately began crafting a multi-paragraph reply, defending my point of view. In the end, after re-reading his comment, I realized that it was more likely a misunderstanding and wrote a much shorter reply. But I was still glad it happened.
The point he questioned was one that I held as an absolute and had never questioned for myself. Because he called me out on it, I was able to really look at it and figure out why I believed what I did and if I still believed it was right.
I think a willingness to be proved wrong is something sorely missing not only from the secular world, but from the modern church. Look how many denominations there are and most of them only disagree on a few minor matters.
We are called to sharpen one another ‘as iron sharpens iron’ (Prov. 27:17) and I don’t see how we can do that when we all go looking for churches that agree with us on every single point. Keep the main things the main things, please, but beyond that, be willing to be proved wrong on which type of music should be used in church or if Christians should have tattoos.
One of my best friends was raised Baptist, while my parents both came from more Pentecostal backgrounds. We disagree on some issues, yes, but it has never jeopardized our friendship. Discussing areas where we don’t see eye to eye has enabled us to challenge each other and really re-evaluate why we believe what we believe.
Even on subjects where I know I won’t budge, it’s still healthy to see the other person’s side of things. For example, I’m extremely pro-life and I don’t believe abortion is acceptable under any circumstances. However, I am interested to hear arguments for its acceptability in cases of rape because even if I don’t change my mind, I’ll still be able to understand the other side better and have more grace for those who have had abortions.
Of course, I’m not perfect. The flip side of my debate-loving personality is that I can definitely (often) take things too far. The key is to not take disagreements personally. To be un-offendable.
Just because someone disagrees with me on an issue I deem important, that does not make us enemies and it does not give me the right to judge them. If it’s a heavy, sin issue and I believe their soul is at stake, I can still present my case with love and respect, because ultimately it’s not on me to change what may or may not need to be changed about them. That’s God’s department. And He doesn’t debate. He just wins.
I’m certainly not saying go out and pick a fight with everyone you meet. I know that some people hate confrontation and that others can’t have a debate without it becoming a heated argument. If it won’t bare fruit, then stay away. But let’s be the change we want to see in the world and be the first to bravely face the facts that the only One who has all the answers is God and the rest of us are probably wrong about a few things.
Don’t agree? Please, say so. Because I could be wrong.