I was raised in a household with two younger sisters and our parents. Amazingly, we each had the exact same total SAT score, although we took the test at different times. We each went on to earn a BS in a Science major–Biological Sciences, Chemistry, and Exercise Science. We each married, and had our first child at age 28. We currently live in Rock Hill, Columbia, and Charleston, South Carolina. We are emotionally very close siblings, although we do not always agree with one another. We frequently talk on 3-way and we have an ongoing group text. I repeat, we do not always agree with each other. We never stop talking or give each other the silent treatment. We may get a little heated in our conversation as we try to make a point and a single conversation may end with disagreement, but sure enough the phone will ring again minutes later. It won't be an apology, it will be one more point that just came to mind and now needs to be made. I think it’s this relationship I that has made me dislike the phrase, “let’s agree to disagree.” We disagree, but we don't agree to the disagreement. We keep talking, and that, I believe, is what keeps us close.
I don't have this relationship with anyone else in my life. I disagree with others, but the level of closeness to disagree and keep talking on the same subject does not exist. Recently, in Bible Study we examined Romans 14. The first verse of the chapter states, ”Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarrelling over disputable matters.” Paul goes on to list several examples of disputable matters—whether or not we should we eat meat; which day of the week we should worship; whether or not we should drink wine. While he gives these examples, we can all think of some disputable matter(s) in our own lives—whether we think the iPhone or Android is better; whether we’re Republican or Democrat; whether we need stricter weapons’ laws or not. Our lives are filled with disputable matters.
Romans 14:3 states “The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them.” We should not treat others with poorly or critically over disputable matters. As humans, it is our upbringing and experiences that make us who we are. No two individuals are exactly the same—and no two individuals view the world in the same way. In a sense, it is our differences that keep life interesting. Without differences, what would we talk about? Dialogue doesn’t mean a decision must be made or consensus must be reached—nor do we have to make a judgment or treat someone with contempt because of differing opinions, “for God has accepted them.” We must remember that it is not our judgments that matter. Only God’s judgment matters. If our friend, with whom we disagree, has faith in God, his sins are forgiven, just as ours are.
As I read Romans 14, the phrase “agree to disagree” came to mind. As I stated above, I have never liked that expression. It has always seemed like a cop-out to me, a way to avoid further discussion, a means of circumventing the real issues. I have believed that agreeing to disagree allowed conflict to remain and to grow. If we agree to disagree on one issue, we will pile on more disagreement, and become discontented in our relationship. I think however, that Paul is advising that we agree to disagree, and move on. In other words, “live and let live.” We can’t escape disputable matters and none of us is perfect. Matthew 5:9 says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will inherit the kingdom of God.” It may just be deciding to agree to disagree that makes you a peacemaker this week.
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Copyright 2018 Kimberly Griffith Anderson
If you like this style of writing, you will enjoy Turn North: A 30-Day Devotional and Journal written by the author of this blog.