Can We Disagree and Love?

By Trillia Newbell

I’m fairly new to the blogosphere. I generally write feature stories as a freelance journalist and press releases for a national fitness company. Over the past year I have immersed myself in the new (or maybe not so new) technology. Since joining the array of voices on the Internet I have watched controversies unfold over opinions. These controversies have resulted in full-on character assaults.

You see the problem with opinions is there are differing opinions.

So how do we share our opinions, convictions, passions and differing opinions and still maintain a brotherly love and affection (2 Pet 1:7)? We start, in my opinion, with the problems.

1)  Our passions wage war

We’ve heard it before and if you haven’t here it goes; we quarrel because we want something that we are not getting. We want to change an opinion so we fight. We want someone to take action so perhaps we threaten. James explains with a rhetorical question: What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you (James 4:1 ESV)?

Passions can cause us to react and we (writers and bloggers) have an especially difficult task in that we are generally reacting far off. Bringing me to the second problem.

2)  People write blogs

Because we are far off it is easy to separate the human aspect of blogging or writing. In other words, there is a person behind that blog. That person is made in the image of God, regardless of their standing before God. As Christians we have a responsibility to love them.

What makes this difficult is that we don’t want to love them. Remember, our passions are waging war. But God’s Word is clear, we are called to love.  Did Jesus really say, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matt 5:44)? That blogger who you disagree with, who perhaps shares an opinion that is different than yours and maybe even mentioned you by name; yes even that person is to be loved.

Do you view the person behind the screen as person made in the image of God? Is it easier to share in a tone that is rash, harsh, or unkind because you are far off?

3)  Oh—the many words

Writers have an incredible opportunity to use our words for good. To think that anyone (anyone at all) would read our words should humble us. Paul David Tripp explains the importance of our words in his book, War of Words:

 “Words are powerful, important, significant. It was meant to be that way. When we speak, it must be with the realization that God has given our words significance. He has ordained for them to be important. Words were significant at Creation and at the Fall. They are significant to redemption. God has given words value.”

But we have a problem.  We–if we are diligent in our blogging and writing–share many words. And when we are tempted because we disagree with another writer, those many words can lead us to sin. Because, “when words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent” (Provs 10:19).

The Solution (in my opinion)

Is love.

I’ve never been in a fight where I was quick to speak, slow to hear, and quick in anger where the hearer felt a great amount of love. No, during those times,  I wasn’t displaying love. James tells us to do just the opposite (Jam 1:19-21).  When I am quick to speak and angry I’m not loving my neighbor as myself.  No way. I’m much more kind to myself.

And we’ve seen it and we know it’s true; hatred does indeed stir up strife (Prov 10:12). It’s not necessary to link evidence of strife. We know it’s out there. Here’s the good news, love covers all offenses.  So when we disagree with someone–a fellow image bearer of God–perhaps we should stop and ask:

Am I being quick to speak? Am I being quarrelsome which will lead to a dispute (Prov 17:14)?

Or maybe we should ask; do I want to be treated in the same manner? If that doesn’t work perhaps we should simply wonder if our words and actions are bringing glory and honor to God. Perhaps we should stop and pray before we hit the send button (oh how I wish I had done that before at times).

We can’t muster up love. God must give us a heart to love others. God must do a work of grace so that we have self-control.  But we can ask. We can ask God to help us to love each other as we disagree with one another. He loves to pour out his grace to those who ask.

Can we disagree and still love?

We all know that answer: Yes.

As a matter of fact, disagreeing can be a form of loving:

  • “Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with his tongue” (Proverbs 28:23 ESV).
  • “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy” (Proverbs 27:6 ESV).
  • “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother” (Matthew 18:15 ESV)

It’s unloving to agree with someone who may be wrong (unknowingly so or otherwise).  As Christians we aren’t to buckle to the pressures of the world to be relevant either.

If we disagree, great, let’s just disagree with a new end in mind. Let’s disagree with the end to bring God glory and not to be right. I think that would change how we disagree. To bring God glory would be to disagree in a loving spirit.

At least, that’s my opinion.

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