Culture mistakes agreement for love and the church better take note

An example of culture's thinking

An example of culture’s thinking

Love is different from agreement. 

It’s true that agreement can be loving. And love can be quite agreeable.

But they’re not the same thing.

Our culture misses this point. Too often culture believes for love to be love it must be explicitly agreeable.

But there will be times where love, to be truly love, appears quite disagreeable.

Tweet: @pastorcor: There will be times where love, to be truly love, appears quite disagreeable. full post: http://ctt.ec/eKoEy+

For example, love may confront. Or withhold. Or abstain. Or say “No” when everyone else is saying “Of course!”

Unfortunately, such a posture is increasingly perceived as unloving.

Why? Because we disagreed with them. To agree is to love. To disagree is to not love.

Note – it doesn’t matter how kind the delivery of this disagreement was given. To them, disagreement didn’t meet their expectation. They wanted only agreement.

This reality is becoming much more common in a world which takes its lead from culture. At one time, the church served as chaplain to the culture. It does so no longer (See #7 and #8).

The Church is often asked whether they agree or disagree with X-issue.

I think there are three possible responses.

tXbv9XhThe first is to state your disagreement. Whether due to God, his Word, theology, conviction, or whatever, you believe love demands you state your disagreement. Even at the risk of offense, you must not remain silent because you love.

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 2.29.49 PMThe second is to withhold your disagreement. Again, whether due to God, his Word, theology, conviction, or whatever, you believe love demands you don’t state your disagreement. Even at the risk of appearing to agree (though you don’t), you must remain silent because you love.

The third (and this is the one I often choose) is to steer the conversation away from this one point in order to focus on underlying values. And it’s not because there are not times to straight up agree or disagree. There are.

But it’s important for us to be reminded that each person is asking whether we agree or disagree for a reason. And it’s likely to add value to their own agenda.

The value to news outlets or bloggers is a sound bite.

The value to non Christians is to stereotype.

The value to people pleasers is reinforcement.

The value to disagreeable types is ammunition.

Each of these then share our opinion with greater disdain or zeal because it fits or doesn’t fit with their agenda.

The Church is often asked whether they agree of disagree with X-issue. I’m not sure we need to immediately offer up our agreement or disagreement.

I’m much more interested in conversing about foundational values than solitary issues.

I want to know why love must agree and why disagreement is hate.

I want to know the rationale for why they agree or disagree.

I want to know the guiding principles around which they orient their lives.

Once I know their foundational values, it’s much easier to have a meaningful conversation with them about the issue. 

And, who knows, in the midst of such civility, maybe they will not want to know only about whether I agree or disagree. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll be interested in knowing why.

This principle also shows you why I blog the way I do.

Share your thoughts and comments. Do you believe our culture mistakes agreement for love?

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Posted on by Cor in FAITH

10 Responses to Culture mistakes agreement for love and the church better take note

  1. Ryan S

    Interesting and thought-provoking. I have no comments, other than wondering if you have any pointers on how to do this well…Do you just try to ask more probing questions about what their beliefs are, or why they are asking the question?

    • Cor

      Asking more questions is my best approach.

      I’m not often quick to share my opinion.

      I want to know where they’re coming from.

      If I ask enough questions demonstrating a desire to truly understand them, I find that many people reciprocate. They will then ask questions in order to listen.

      I much prefer a conversation that results in connection over against two monologues that don’t.

      • Ryan S

        Thanks Cor. That is helpful.

      • Vicki

        Hi – I love this topic. It is something that I think more Christians need to realize and accept this fact.

        I do have a question related to this that I would love to discuss.

        What do you all do when these methods of asking questions and trying to bridge a healthy conversation fails? How do we gracefully end with an “agree to disagree”?

        I recently found myself in this situation, where all of my questions were being misinterpreted or ignored. I got to the point where I realized we would never be on the same page on this issue but struggled greatly with how to say this without it appearing as I was just bowing out b/c I couldn’t “keep up with the debate” or appearing as I was passing judgement and “too good” to converse about it.

        Any pointers, suggestions, past experiences?

        for the record this conversation was all via email, and I ended it with, “I see that we will never agree on this issue” and then highlighted what we did agree on and asked him to continue to think about the questions I did pose.

        • Cor

          Great question, Vicki.

          I’ve experienced what you’re speaking about. I get the sense that they didn’t really understand me. And I’m sure that in many cases they would feel the same.

          One of the things I’ve learned is that agreement can’t always be the end result. It may be the goal. We may want to persuade someone to see or believe things more as we do. But, inevitably, there are conversations where agreement, even from the onset, is unrealistic.

          In such cases, I still hope to leave these conversations changed. Maybe a new appreciation for that person. Maybe a new appreciation for what I learned from talking with them. Maybe a new appreciation for what I believe.

          Perhaps I could share this with them even as we both likely recognize the difference of opinion that remains.

  2. Anonymous

    Yes.

    • Cor

      Yes.

  3. Jenna Ryynanen

    The last time I was asked a question like this (specifically whether I believed in evolution and that the world was older than 6000 years old), I started by saying that excellent questions deserve complicated answers. I then said that I don’t have all the answers. But I know my God has all the answers, so what I think is by no means a complete understanding. I then proceeded with a rather long answer sort of addressing the questions. I only entered into a dialogue like this, however, because I was convinced that the person asking me was genuinely interested in knowing what I believed as a fellow bio major who happened to be a Christian. It made me wish more people would ask with a genuine desire to understand rather than put me in one of their boxes. I definitely would say that agreement is often mistaken for love. I also know that I don’t have a perfect method for dealing with questions like that, and I would really like to get better at it!

    • Cor

      Jenna,

      “Excellent questions deserve complicated answers” is a great line!! I may have to steal that.

      I don’t have a perfect method either. But I do believe this is a part of our way forward. I think conversations hold the best hope for sharing our perspective while listening to theirs.

      • Jenna Ryynanen

        Haha thanks! Go ahead and steal it ;) Hopefully more people will become interested in having more of these real conversations about big issues.

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