BRADY COLUMN: When disagreements come

Published 9:30 am Sunday, January 15, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Whenever I do pre-marital counseling, I usually include the following-role expectation, a good theology of marriage, what the psychologists say about the experience, the importance of communication, the necessity of commitment, and how to deal with conflict or disagreements. Unless one of the marriage partners is a non-thinking robot, every marriage has disagreements. The only question is, how we handle those disagreements.

However, whether it’s in marriage, business, sports, politics, medicine, church or personal relationships, every life situation has disagreements. Again, the important issue is our handling of those disagreements.

First, we can seek to understand the other person’s point of view. There can be no reconciliation if we do not seek to understand the other person’s point of view, and this always begins with listening. In being open to another person’s point of view, Chuck Swindoll says that there are three necessary qualities that don’t come easily: honesty, objectivity, and humility. And none of that comes naturally. It comes as by-products of the Spirit-filled life. Second, we can disagree without being disagreeable! Methodism’s founder, John Wesley, urged all Methodists to have a “catholic” or universal spirit toward one another. Despite differences of opinion, we are to listen to one another and treat each other with respect, patience and kindness. That is what our best-known Methodist slogan is all about; “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”  Samuel Johnson gave us one of the most liberating sentences ever when he said, “Kindness is in our power, fondness is not.”

Third, we can look carefully for a way of compromise! Some people look at compromise as a weak and cowardly thing, They mistakenly think it has something to do with a lack of backbone. To be sure, there is a time to hold the line.  We should never compromise biblical truth, principles or convictions. But simply to be unbending is another thing altogether. The possibility of compromise is when we seek God’s will and not our own. At any rate, compromise is a good way to deal with disagreements and move forward.

Finally, we can trust that God can use everything, even our disagreements for His purposes! The apostle Paul says to the Romans and to us, “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). In the narthex of the Cathedral of Belmont Abby near Charlotte, North Carolina, there is a baptismal font mounted on a big rock. The inscription reads, “From this stone, on which persons were sold into slavery, they now are baptized into freedom.” Only God can do that!  And God can also transform any dead-end situation into a powerful force for good!