What the debt ceiling taught me about civil dialogue.

Hello friends,

There have been a confluence of things going on in my world the last couple of days that have reminded me that it's absolutely critical for Christians (well, really we could broaden that to include all humans, but let's be simple here to start) to posses the ability to talk about the things we might disagree about in a civil, loving, and supportive way.

For starters, this whole debt ceiling debacle that wrapped up just a few moments ago (the major lesson we can take from this is that my government thinks that my procrastination problem is ok). On Sunday, Sarah and I were watching the news while we were getting ready for vacation, and saw a debate take place on the floor of the Senate. The debate was between John McCain and Dick Durbin, two people who probably couldn't disagree less when it came to the issue of the debt ceiling. And they went back and forth, and they debated. Not like fighting or arguing, but like an honest debate between two people who disagree. They respected each other. They respected the room they were standing in. They respected their peers. They agreed with each other when they found the little areas of similarity, and they were sure to point those out. I bet neither of them changed their minds, or their votes. But for a few brief minutes in a months long shouting match, I saw something refreshing take place on the floor of the Senate, and it warmed my heart.

Then, as we were driving up on vacation, we entered into theological discussion with our friends Luke and Jessie. We come from vastly different church backgrounds, and this of course has led to very different views on a wide range of subjects. And even though we were 1) in New Jersey and 2) stuck in traffic, I saw the same sort of patience and respect and love for each other that I saw in the Senate debate. Let's face it, when you start talking religion or politics, these are the kinds of discussions that can wreck a whole congregation, let alone two pairs of friends. And yet we got out of the car in New York smiling, and happy, with our friendships still intact.

We're human beings, so of course everyone will eventually find a place where they disagree with their brother or sister. What if we could do that in a loving way? And by that I mean, what if our disagreements were held up to the light of 1 Corinthians 13?

Are our disagreements patient? Are they kind? Do they envy? Do we boast in our disagreements? Are we too proud? I know that I have been in some debates and arguments where I wouldn't be able to honestly say that about myself, and my heart breaks for that. Hopefully I can work on that so that all of my debates and discussions sound a lot like the one I had in the car with my friends on Sunday night.

Also, the timing of this post isn't lost on me at all. Tomorrow, we review Erasing Hell and Love Wins back to back. As I'm sure we're going to spur a lot of debate in the comments, let's try to keep this post in mind first!