Don’t Argue, Just Read!
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Most of those who have helped a couple in the midst of a struggle have seen it. The helper offers a comment or a word of clarification; one of the couple affirms the rightness or helpfulness of the comment. The other immediately speaks up: “I’ve been saying that all along! Why didn’t you listen to me?”
When in conflict, we argue for our position. That being the case, we end up in “me against you” adversarial situation. We are on opposite sides of the issue and feel both our “enemy-ship” and our desire to not lose.
When a helper steps in and speaks up, the helper is seen outside of the “me against you” dynamic; it is easier for one (or both) people in conflict to see things freshly. That’s one of the basic reasons why going for “counseling” (in whatever form it may take) can be of help for couples in conflict.
But there is another situation where this dynamic can be felt: when there is “doctrinal conflict.”
When two people (or groups) are at odds over some facet of Christian doctrine, they end up finding themselves in a contrarian posture. We are opponents across the table from one another; it’s hard for us to willingly give any ground to the other, because it can feel like losing. But maybe there is a way forward.
When a particular doctrinal issue leaves us at odds with another person, we can actually get on the same side . . . without abandoning the discussion . . . and without losing.
The “opponents” could agree that the only way forward would be to read Scripture together. The Bible itself (rather than merely our “take” on what the Bible does or does not say) becomes the helper–the Scriptures can serve as the counselor in the midst of conflict.
A couple of things happen when we do this.
First, those who were opponents across the table from one another now find themselves on the same side–they both agree that there are going to submit themselves to what the Scripture says. They are now on the same side rather than being opponents on the field of battle.
Second, both parties end up agreeing that there might be something they could learn–not necessarily from the opponent, but from God through His Word. That humble posture is always healthy.
Third, by opening the Bible and beginning to read through passages together (rather than simply making an argument and punctuating it with a verse . . . often taken out of context to score a point) they are exposing themselves to the life-changing power of God’s Word. That might just bring a resolution!
The message of the Gospel of God’s grace, in truth, does change lives. God’s word bears fruit and increases wherever it goes (Colossians 1:5-6). Paul insists that we can teach and admonish one another, as we let the word of Christ dwell in us richly (Colossians 3:16).
Seeing as the Scripture is what is of greatest profit in exploring truth and for training in right living and giving us what we need so that we can live well before God (2 Timothy 3:16-17), next time you are at odds with another over some issue of doctrine, why not take a deep breath, slow down, and open the Book and read some texts together?