Responding to Disagreements

Last week, I sat down at the snack bar for lunch with a group of fellow teachers. I work at a Christian school, but that by no means eliminates disagreements. The topic of conversation for the day was set by one of the teachers who was expressing his surprise at how many of the students believed in a literal 7-day creation. The seeming consensus of those gathered at the table was that Genesis 1, written as poetry, was not meant to be literal, but instead supported the long-age creation theory. Upon learning this, it was my turn to be shocked. I disagree. Strongly.

I had a few options. I could whip out all my sharp rhetoric from my years of competing in debate and apologetics. In so doing, I could risk sacrificing relationships with my co-workers for the sake of being right. The purpose of such a debate is rarely to convince the opposing party, as they are typically just as set in their beliefs as I am in mine. Rather, the purpose of a debate is to convince the audience, of which, we had none. Students passing by would not be interested in the topic of conversation, but only that their teachers were entrenched in a heated argument. Okay, that was one option. Or, I could walk away.

I won’t share which of the two options I chose. That is immaterial. For me, the real question is, when it is the right choice to stand up and defend one’s beliefs, and when is it better to just walk away?

Immediately, stories of men in Scripture who stood and fought for what they believed come to mind: In 2 Samuel 23, Scripture praises Shammah, who stood his ground…”and the Lord worked a great victory.” There’s always the story of David and Goliath. Peter and Paul and Stephen defended their faith with boldness. Are there stories that model the choice to walk away?

Thoughts? Comments?

3 Comments Add yours

  1. edith brooks says:

    Hi Abby as for me and the matters of the BIBLE I never argue I just walk away and pray about it and ask God to teach us all about what is right from wrong because we all believe in different things and I know you chose to walk away though sometimes its hard to do when you know you are right.

  2. truetim says:

    Abigail, I appreciate your insight about the difference between conversation and debate. Very wise. I have a few thoughts: Start with love. There is a zeal that is not for the Lord, e.g., both Sauls, but rather for a religious idea or the approval of man. If you can’t talk about creation while maintaining respect for your brothers and sisters, then walk away. Even if they’re wrong, that doesn’t make them heretics, and you need to be humble in the incompleteness of your own knowledge. As for examples, the good news is that my negative example became one of my positive examples: Paul deferring to someone mistaken about eating meat offered to idols. Also, the Council at Jerusalem setting guidelines for the Gentile Christians to help keep peace with the Jewish ones. Thanks for sharing. I hope this gives you some ideas.

  3. truetim says:

    Sandy had another important thought. The correct action also depends on your coworkers’ ability to discuss it calmly and objectively. If you sense that they can’t, that is another indicator to “walk away.”

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