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Some Biblical Wisdom for when People Disagree

We have no need to point out to our readers concerning the lack of civility in public discourse in our government bodies. The rancor and nastiness when observing Congress is self-evident from both in their daily debates and during such events as the State of the Union speech.

One can make a reasonable argument that such has always been the case. Just read some extensive history of the fights in Congress and even before that first Congress, as the Constitution was being debated, and further on a decade or two in to the political fights among the candidates vying for the presidency in the early years of our republic. They could get quite nasty, too.

Nonetheless, perhaps it is getting worse in America than it was in, say, the 1950s. In my local political and social activities, I am suddenly seeing more nastiness in these groups. It is sad, but alas, we are all still mortal and therefore cannot escape completely from the carnal nature we yet endure.

I shall not go in to specifics on that, except to report that in the past week, as I have chatted privately with some of the parties on various sides of the issues, I am encouraged that there seems to be a sincere desire on the part of all parties to have peace in the group once again—and especially so as Republicans must have some degree of cooperation as we seek to unify behind our candidates for the coming November elections.

The author of the essay we are sharing here does not quote any Scriptures, but there are hundreds of verses of advice concerning the subject of this blog. Here are a few pertinent examples. And more at the end of his essay.

Our prayer is that all of these biblical principles be sown into our hearts and minds with one of the results being that we can amicably have discourse and even disagreements others without rancor, envying, anger, hatred, strife, etc.

Proverbs 26:4 Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.

Proverbs 26:5 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.

When in the presence of a biblical fool, it takes wisdom and discernment to know which of the two above verses to apply. Who is a biblical fool? Here are several of the many answers to that question.

Proverbs 10:18 He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool.

Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.

Proverbs 10:8 The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall.

Proverbs 14:16 A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident.

Mark 7: 20 And he [Jesus] said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.

21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,

22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:

23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

Galatians 5:15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.

We came across this essay in our print edition of the Epoch Times dated Feb. 28-Mar. 5, 2024 All emphases and comments within [brackets] are ours. QUOTE:

How to Disagree Agreeably

Civility for our society begins with our individual interactions.

By Gregory Jantz, Ph.D.,

A friend told me about a recent family gathering that went terribly wrong. Twenty-five extended family members got together for a backyard barbecue to celebrate several of their birthdays, as they did a few times a year.

Normally these get-togethers were pure fun and fellowship. But this particular event was not normal, beginning to sour when Uncle Vince, known to all as loving but loudly opinionated, mentioned a news report he’d heard that morning about government immigration policy. Vince proceeded to share his own perspective on the matter, forcefully and authoritatively.

Standing nearby, Vince’s usually reserved nephew, a university student, felt compelled to share his own thoughts about immigration policy—sharply differing from his uncle’s. Congenial banter quickly escalated into pointed and angry retorts. Soon, other family members chimed in, increasing the tension even more.

My friend, the host, wisely suggested they move on from political talk and choose a friendlier topic. That’s when two of the mothers in attendance brought up their daughters’ soccer teams—rival teams both vying for a spot in the playoffs.

Competitive juices got stirred up, and the mothers made thinly veiled putdowns about the opposing teams and the opposing daughters’ abilities. One mother grabbed her daughter’s hand and stormed off.

When that dispute died down, another argument erupted, and then later another. Voices were raised. Shouting ensued. Some tears flowed. The birthday bash had become a contentious clash.

Before burgers and brats from the barbecue could be served, several family members had left the party, tired of the tension and fearing more. Others stood around awkwardly, afraid to say much. The gathering wrapped up quickly and quietly with everyone wondering what went wrong.

Was this a case of a dysfunctional and argumentative family acting poorly?

Absolutely not!” my friend told me. This is a family that loves each other and laughs together. We always have a great time being together—well, except for that day.”

He made this assessment: That contentious day is a snapshot of what our larger society has become—short-tempered, divisive, combative. People in our society have largely lost the ability to discuss controversial issues without getting overheated. Seems like no wants to just agree to disagree.”

I believe my friend’s assessment was right on. When it comes to our public discourse and interpersonal relationships, our society for the large part has lost a sense of decorum, civility, and politeness.

This is not a broad-brush condemnation of our society, which has much to celebrate and applaud. Still, most of us acknowledge that our public and personal communication has frequently become hostile and antagonistic.

Whatever Happened to Common Decency?

It’s not surprising that the American Bar Association’s 2023 Survey of Civic Literacy began by saying, Americans aren’t very nice to each other anymore and they blame social media and the media generally.” Findings included:

  • 85 percent of survey respondents said civility in today’s society is worse than it was 10 years ago.
  • 29 percent said social media is primarily responsible for eroding civility. Another 24 percent blamed the media generally, and 19 percent blamed public officials.
  • 34 percent said family and friends are primarily responsible for improving civility in our society. Another 27 percent said it’s primarily the responsibility of public officials, and 11 percent said it’s community leaders’ responsibility.

I have been a mental health specialist for 40 years, so I have seen countless times how civility fosters a culture of mutual respect and kindness, promoting mental well-being and emotional resilience.

Politeness and courtesy in interpersonal interactions contribute to a positive social climate, reducing stress and promoting psychological health. In contrast, a lack of civility can lead to increased levels of anxiety, aggression, and social isolation, undermining individual and collective well-being.

One study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology found a link between toxicity in the workplace and symptoms of insomnia, a common symptom of clinical depression. Other studies highlighted by the Cognitive Institute demonstrated that incivility in the workplace leads to employee burnout, and rudeness in health care settings leads to diminished care and worse outcomes among the ill.

At the heart of civility lies a fundamental respect for others, regardless of differences in opinions, backgrounds, or beliefs. In a civil society, individuals engage in dialogue with a spirit of openness and receptivity, listening to diverse perspectives with honor and decency.

Principles for Positive Disagreements

You and I may not be able to effect sweeping societal change—but we can do our part. Change can begin when you and I choose to treat others with respect and courtesy, even amid disagreement. We can prioritize civility in our interactions and work toward creating a more respectful and compassionate world.

[Dr. Jantz is clearly talking about interactions on the personal level in dealing with relatives, co-workers, etc. We expect that the advice would be somewhat different in this case:

What about recognizing evil and the evil ones who actually and literally want to kill you? And they are working assiduously toward that goal?! E.g., Covid and vaxxes, the Georgia Guidestones declaration, the late Dr. Zev Zelenko’s statement to that effect, etc.

Can you have a civil dialogue with such people? Did Jesus have a civil conversation with the moneychangers as he drove them out of the temple? Shall we be civil towards those whose stated intents and words are being followed up by their actions to destroy not only our liberties (via invasion), but destroy us literally?]

If you agree that some disagreements are inevitable in families, workplaces, and communities, then it’s important to establish ground rules for healthy interactions. Start with these strategies:

Both people have a legitimate right to feel and think the way they do.

We can’t assume the other person is necessarily wrong simply because he or she has a different point of view. There is something wonderful about being told by someone, I disagree with you, but I respect and honor your position.” This reduces the threat of feeling wrong just because you’re different.

If just one of you wins” the argument, you both lose.

Conflicts get our competitive juices flowing, and winning the argument becomes the number one goal. In the heat of battle, it’s easy to focus on what is best for me over what’s best for both people. It feels great if I win the argument—but it hasn’t helped to foster mutual respect.

Put-downs and name-calling are forbidden.

[Ad hominem attacks are resorted to and used by people who have no rational, logical, or common sense answers.]

Any comment intended to demean or degrade the other person will do nothing to solve the problem or promote civility. It will only drive you and the other person further apart to say, That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard!”

Use your ears more than your mouth.

One of the principles in Steven Covey’s popular book Seven Habits of Highly Successful People” is this: First, seek to understand rather than be understood. In the midst of a heated discussion, nothing facilitates progress as dramatically as listening. This can be tough to do when we’re intent on defending our own position. But when we open ourselves to the other person’s thoughts and feelings, barriers come down.

The goal of conflict is unity and understanding.

When two people encounter conflict, they stand at a fork in the road. One path leads to disunity and dissension; the other leads to unity and understanding. You can choose to fight mean and nasty, or you can choose to fight fair and with an open mind. Each choice will reap consequences, either for gain or loss.

Use I” statements.

One of the fastest ways to get people on the defensive in a conversation is to verbally point your finger by saying, You always … You never … You should have known …” Instead, try to frame all of your statements with the word I.” This allows the other person to understand that you are merely stating your perspective. Try to begin sentences with I feel … When I … I am concerned about …”

Ask questions first.

Seek to truly understand the other person’s perspective by asking thoughtful questions. If you don’t understand what’s being said or the motive behind the other person’s perspective, ask for clarification. Sometimes it’s helpful to restate what you heard the other person say to ensure that you interpreted their words correctly. After they finish speaking, follow up with, What I hear you saying is …”

Attend to tone.

Have you ever had someone tell you I’m sorry” but know that person didn’t mean it? Even though the words communicated an apology, the tone sounded defiant and unapologetic.

This is because the actual words you use account for only about 7 percent of how people interpret what you say, while tone counts for about 38 percent. That means your tone is about five times more important than what you say. So make sure you come across as genuine, regardless of what you have to say.

[We have removed many of my lectures from circulation which were given in the early years of SKM, not because the teaching was in error, but in many cases because my wise wife, Roxanne, counseled me about my tone—which displayed anger…chiefly directed at the evil ones. I have striven over the years to overcome that. Coming to a greater understanding of the Sacred Secrets of the Sovereignty of God has helped immensely.]

Call for a timeout.

Once the fuse of anger is lit and tempers threaten to blow, the best bet is to create a safe space for yourself and others by walking away. The wisest action might be to say, It seems like we’re both getting fired up about this topic, so let’s set it aside and move on.” Let the other person know that you can come back to the discussion and face the issue at hand later—when you’ve had a chance to calm down. END QUOTE


Gregory Jantz, Ph.D., is the founder and director of the mental health clinic The Center: A Place of Hope in Edmonds, Wash. He is the author of Healing Depression for Life,” The Anxiety Reset,” and many other books. Find Jantz at APlaceOfHope.com.

Here is a link to the article online. Here are more Scriptures to ask the Father to embed in our hearts and minds.

Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

James 5:9 Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.

1 Peter 3:8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:

9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.

10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:

11 Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.

1 Corinthians 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

Philippians 2: 2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. [true unity, in this case, in the Body, but can apply also to civil affairs.]

3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness [humility] of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

James 3:13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.

14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.

15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.

16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.

17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

-END-

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