Have you ever been in a conversation on social media or in person and it gets spirited or intense? You are explaining your views and getting pushback from someone who disagrees, which can go on for a period of time. All of a sudden, someone jumps in and calls for unity by telling you both to stop fighting, claiming that we need to “win souls, yet instead we’re debating a topic?”
If you’re someone who loves to engage in discussions, this can be very frustrating. Especially when there’s an unspoken understanding between the two of you that disagreement doesn’t equal division. I call individuals who try to stop debates “debate saviors” because they come in as if they’re saving the day and creating unity by stopping the debate in its tracks.
This comes from a valid concern people have with how polarized we all are today. There are so many examples of malice, harsh jokes, dehumanizing speech, slander, etc. When you witness these examples in society, it’s easy to filter them into every conversation where there’s disagreement.
So what are some of the ways you can differentiate between a good debate and the negatives of division? I’ll list them below:
- Observe the way that people are speaking to each other. Is the sarcasm rising to where there’s an edge to it? Do you notice any personal shots being thrown out?
- When you see passion, can you tell that the person is listening to the other side or are they just comfortable in hearing themselves talk?
- If the conversation is an emotionally heavy one, can you sense a graciousness between the two, or is there a lack of grace there?
There are more ways that you can observe a conversation and see whether it’s fruitful, but these are just some of the ways. The Church has historically hashed out debates on topics that we still debate across denominational lines today, and the debate shouldn’t discourage you.
Just because there are different denominations, it doesn’t mean that they all exist because the Church isn’t unified. Some do exist because of racism and theological disagreements, but not all. The reality is Baptists, Pentecostals, Reformed, Presbyterians, and so much more have diverse views on many topics in scripture.
Does division grieve the Father? Certainly. But division is not the same as disagreement. Uniformity isn’t the same as unity either. We are one body, even if we debate and argue theology. Besides theology though, there are many things that can be debated in a positive way. It is the condition of one’s heart that makes the difference.