Free to Disagree – Yeah Right!

Now, you are welcome to disagree with me on this—as long as you want to be wrong, stupid, un-Christian, un-patriotic, and worthy of gross rejection.  Oh, oops, I wasn’t supposed to put that last part in there. 

Why is it that some teachers, pastors, group leaders and others try to project this willingness for discussion and differing thought when they really don’t want to hear anything contrary to the conclusions they have presented?  Why is it that Christians are so quick to jump to “my side versus your side?”  Why are we so willing to abandon friendships and relationships for our disagreements?

I am watching a discussion deteriorate into the name-calling and friendship-severing mess we often see in churches and ministries when people stop remembering who they are in Christ and let their differences define their relationship.  It grieves me.  So much is lost when this happens. 

Let’s think about why this happens.  Let’s get the obvious and most nasty reason out first.  There are some leaders who simply cannot abide a challenge to their opinion or teaching.  This is a narcissistic characteristic some people have that moves them to see anyone who disagrees as an enemy or an obstacle.  I have known pastors who fired associate staff upon the first disagreement.  Narcissists usually react very strongly against people who disagree because they feel threatened by the challenge. 

But not all ugly disagreements stem from the paranoia of a narcissist.  Sometimes churches, ministries, even friendships are destroyed simply because people don’t know how to disagree or they hold their own opinions too highly.  Sometimes a minor disagreement is blown out of proportion because a political rift already exists and one or both sides use the disagreement against the other.  Sometimes people are frightened and respond with much more force than is appropriate and the battle escalates from there.

We really can’t do much about the political or ideological rifts and the wars that result from minor disagreements.  In those cases, anything would have been a good weapon and the disagreement was just handy.  No matter how much you try to talk through the disagreement, you find no progress because the disagreement isn’t the real problem.  Some churches, in other words, are primed for an explosion and almost anything will set it off. 

But believers should be able to discuss their differences without becoming angry and attacking.  And we should be able to relate in a way that a simple disagreement isn’t seen as an attack.  Actually, we should be able to see each other in a way that even an attack is not fatal to the relationship. 

In the next several days, I will write more on this.  I would like to address concerns such as: what to do when you are attacked; when it is appropriate to name names; how far a disagreement can go before the relationship should be severed; how far to go to prove or force your point; what arguments are worth having; why Christians, in particular, are susceptible to the us versus them mentality; and more.

Maybe you can add to the list.


Filed under Church, grace

5 responses to “Free to Disagree – Yeah Right!

  1. Thanks Dave, for the wonderful article. I have lost many friends as a result of standing firm in what I believe, more than at any other time in my 27 year journey with Christ. And I am becoming more and more convinced that Father is doing a painful but needful pruning and work of separation amongst those who are very fleshy vs. those who have been truly broken and brought to the end of themselves and are thus able to love, authentically, from the pure heart that He has given all of us. To those who don’t understand brokenness and what it means to “live on the otherside of The Cross” this will seem like a self righteous statement. It’s just that in the pain of severe trials, God reveals to some degree one’s heart, and the hearts of those who are your friends, and those who you thought were your friends, but are not. We all now see, but as through a mirror dimly, but one day, we’ll see each other face to face, and we will from then on, will live, in the knowing, without the deceptions; and without the flesh, and it’s false identity and it’s masks. There at that wonderful perfect place, we will then live in the love of The Father; forever. … and that day could not come, for me, soon enough.

  2. Jayna Stein

    I’m very interested in reading what you have to say on this.

  3. Sue

    Looking forward to your posts on this, as I’ve had a couple of recent incidents….

  4. Dad Swartz

    After hearing that after disagreements my home church no longer exists I asked God how can can this happen?I realised that we basede our theology on the scriptures,but we didn’t base our lives on the scriptures because we didn’t know them well enough.How can we split when we have verses that say” 12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. “There are many others which if we would obey them I believe we would be more effective as a body of believers.
    Something to think about and pray about.

    ow them well enough.How can we split when we have verses that say”

  5. Luis Leiva

    Hi Dave! thank you so much for this article, I definitely want to read more.

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