Those of you with siblings know the struggle between wanting to smack your sibling and wanting to hug them into a coma. The question going through many sibling minds is, “How hard can I smack this person before they cry and I get in trouble?” So the mental math ensues and generally older siblings always overestimate the amount of force it takes to silence a younger sibling, crying ensues, and suddenly one (or both) siblings find themselves at the receiving end of a stern talking to.
Ok, but what’s this got to do with real life? Well, lately, I’ve noticed that Christians and parents have a lot of good things to say. (Not that those groups are mutually exclusive…) What tends to happen though, is the way things are said tend to intercept the good message and replace it with a bad Google Translate version of whatever we were trying to say.
There are several big talking points floating around right now, one of them being gun laws vs gun rights. (Put those down, I’m not picking sides on this one, hear me out.) The way we have the discussions often changes the meaning of those discussions. I don’t know about you, but when one of my beliefs are challenged I can sometimes take it personally and end up angry at the other person for attacking me. What I tend to forget is that my opinion is not me, it’s an idea. Now, if someone were to poke me with a sharp stick, that’s a different story, but simply having an opinion attacked is a very different story. Lashing out at the other side rarely wins them over, instead, it tends to make the other side that much more determined to hold their own opinion rather than to consider a different one.
Let’s get personal for a second. When one of these talking points comes up, how do you and the people in your household talk about them? Now, imagine those same words coming out of your child’s mouth. If it sounds perfectly logical and loving and cute, great. If it sounds out of place, perhaps the way we discuss these issues could use some work. Kids learn how to interact with others and their opinions through their parents.
So the question stands, when I see someone who seems to have a wrong opinion, how hard should I bring the book down on them? Depends. Do you want to have a fruitful, engaging discussion that could end with the two of you understanding one another and perhaps winning a friend or a fellow believer in whatever opinion it is, or would you rather have a heated argument that leads to broken friendships and not being invited over for tea ever again.
How do you have discussions at your house? Are your disagreements spoken with a mind to the other human beings involved? Are they spoken with the idea that the other human beings involved are children of God?