Agree to Disagree

Agreeing to disagree is an English phrase used to resolve a conflict of some kind usually between two people. It means that both parties have decided to accept the other person’s point of view without actually agreeing with it.

Why? To protect your relationship from unresolved hurt, frustration, and resentments, agreeing to disagree is not only an important communication skill but manifests the character of Christ.

The apostle Paul addresses this matter in his epistle to the Romans in chapter 14. Some of what he says is…

“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.
One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables.

Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.

Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another?

It is before his own master that he stands or falls.
And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

One person esteems one day as better than another,
while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.”

Paul seems to be implying by these verses that allowing room for disagreement means that you and your partner, or whomever you are in conversation with, acknowledge that relationship is more essential than solving the problems, or differences we might be facing.

If I may illustrate by using public opinion. Public opinion can be influenced by age, gender, income, hobbies, race, religion, occupation, as well as the economy. Public opinion can also be influenced by mass media which includes television, magazines, radio, and newspapers and social media.

So, we can see that many factors influence people and the opinions they develop. Not all opinions are based on logic. People might also form opinions based on emotion, preference, experience, or all sorts of other things. For that reason, people will often have differences of opinion.

Discussing hard topics such as politics, religion, or “problematic social issues” can end long term friendships and batter family relationships.

The analogy of “playing with fire” might unfortunately be a suitable one when talking about subjects where there are varying opinions and burning issues of debate. Conflict is an inevitable part of relationships, particularly in emotionally close ones. And while many people attempt to avoid or minimize conflict, conflict in relationships is not necessarily a situation to be avoided.

Conflicts and disagreements can be healthy when they result in better decisions and strengthen and deepen relationships. Therefore, differences of opinion should be welcomed and are normal in relationships, and can foster deeper understanding and growth between individuals. It does not necessarily mean one person is right and the other person is wrong.

This certainly reflects a common pattern among people. The expectation that everyone should or will agree with our conclusions is a bit presumptuous. The bigger problem is the attitude in which we disagree. The sad reality is that religious groups seem to be less tolerant with each other than do social community settings. It is regrettable that professing Christians are often less tolerant than people in world. Too often religious people have difficulty with differing ideas particularly when they believe that their beliefs are biblically sound, and others are not.

This becomes acutely apparent when there is a guest speaker filling the pulpit. The congregation of listeners may say, this speaker thinks or teaches something different than our pastor or what we are used to. They must not be right, even possibily thinking that the teaching is unorthodox.

It is unfortunate if the response is negative and defensive.

Disagreements are inevitable but we should always share our differing opinions respectfully. Wouldn’t it be better to say, “Isn’t that great! He has a different perspective on things than I do. Today we got a varying idea on something that we can pray about, rather than the same old’ familiar menu. We have been challenged to consider this new point-of-view with an open mind. We should celebrate our uniqueness and differences.

While it can be difficult to keep an open mind,
particularly when we feel passionate about a subject, listening to another person and empathizing with their situation, even while not always agreeing with their point of view, allows us to gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and others.

The benefits to being open-minded can be numerous, including better problem-solving skills, and reduced stress. and most importantly, greater reliance on the Holy Spirit.

The answer to this question illustrates how religious people think, in terms of conformity rather than valuing relationships over dogma. People have a difficult time learning to agree to disagree agreeably and allowing for diversity of opinions and interpretations within their fellowship groups.

There is no better time to allow Christ to live “as us,” than when a conflict arises due to differing scriptural views. Wherever there are more than one, there will be differing opinions and ideas, that is just the way God has made us. Notice how easily distracted from Christ we get, when having a discussion that centers on Christ, if our focus becomes, “who is right and who is wrong.”

There comes a point in a discussion where brotherly love is willing to agree to disagree in tolerant. Christian character will always value people more than opinions. Judgmentalism and attitudes of frustration do not exhibit the character of Christ no matter how right our agreements may be.

We should never be so preoccupied with attempting to cause other people to believe or live like we do. The words of Jesus are especially appropriate during times of disagreement with a brother in Christ. We should avoid attempts to “take a speck out of our brother’s eye when we may have a log in our own perspective” (Matt. 7:3-5).

Unity within the body of Christ does not have to be watered down and become dangerous by false ecumenical teaching, which I do not support and believe in. Jesus passionately prayed that his followers would be one, and “may be brought to complete unity” (John 17:21, 23 NIV). Why? “So that the world may believe that you (His Father) have sent me,” he prayed (v. 21). Their unity was rooted in Christ’s own unity with the Father,

You can still have harmony or unity even though you agree to disagree. Some would take the position that unless we are fully dependent on conformity, we cannot have unity. However, allowing for differing opinions and open-mindedness allows for opportunities to experience harmonious disagreement.

Grace allows us to disagree in love. Grace respectfully challenges other’s decisions. Others should know we are caring even when we say, I disagree with you. And when I disagree with you it does not mean I do not like you. Conflict ought to be viewed as an opportunity to understand the opinion of another, with the willingness to agree to disagree if necessary. More important than a person’s opinions are the person themselves. With that view in mind, we may view our differences as a window to see into the persons soul, and which allows us to better understand the individual.

There is no need for “fist pounding on a table” to make your point. Attempting to resolve differences should not be seen as conquering your opponent, as if it is a “me against them” mentally.

Defending your position on a matter should not be done in an attitude of “my way or the highway.” The end does not justify the means. Religion fosters the idea that there is only one proper way to think or act. Conformity is what I refer to as “cookie-cutter” religion.

Passion needs to be expressed consistent with who you are in Christ.

There is only one Person with a perfect understanding, and that is the Lord Jesus Himself. Unless we are allowing Jesus to express His mind and express His life uniquely through us, whatever else we may be saying or doing, it is not Christian no matter how accurate we may think we are in our beliefs.

It is a sad commentary that too often the world looks on at the church misrepresenting the Lord they claim to serve and believe, often causing an unbelieving world to question the validity of Christianity. The striving and argumentation of Christian believers has often turned off a disbelieving world. What attracted the unbelieving world in the early days of the book of Acts was, “Behold how they love one another,” not how well they augured about the doctrines they believed.

We must be careful not to deify our human ideas, to the neglect of being living epistles of Jesus Christ. We must learn to agree to disagree without being disagreeable, nasty, and rather learn to enjoy our unity in Christ in the midst of a wide range of Christian thought and practice.

“Agree to Disagree” is a beginning not an end to a healthy conversation in Christ.

Living the Victorious Life

Living the Victorious Life

Living the Victorious Life

Living the Victorious Life

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