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When people have different beliefs from yours

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Recent debates have me thinking these things. I will acknowledge that I don't always live by these ideas that I'm presenting, and I am going to make no effort to force you to. However, I wish that all debates and debaters would follow these basic principles:

1. When you believe differently from someone, and you are firmly set in your beliefs, consider that they are just as firmly set in theirs. If you won't change for anything, maybe they won't either. You can't convince anyone of something that they don't want to be true. "Each should be fully convinced in his own mind" - Romans 14:5

2. In light of that - keep an open mind. When someone says something that challenges your beliefs, instead of immediately dismissing it, examine it. No one person has all the truth there is in the world. According to Christianity, which I believe in, and this forum is based on, Jesus is the Truth, and His works are recorded in the Bible, of which there are many different translations and interpretations. To discover the truth, then, we must "examine the scriptures every day" to see if what others say is true. - Acts 17:11. And please don't say that your method of interpretation is the only one.

3. When you are tempted to point out the flaws in someone else's belief system or actions, recognize that you aren't perfect either. "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?" -Matthew 7:4. Instead of trying to make others perfect, focus on yourself, and "let he who is without sin cast the first stone" - John 8:7

4. "Seek first to understand, then to be understood." - this is a quote from Stephen Covey, the author of 7 habits for highly effective people. It means this: Make a genuine effort to understand others' opinions before you give your own. "be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry" - James 1:19

5. If you feel attacked, you don't have to respond in kind. "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." - Proverbs 15:1 In addition, being defensive about your beliefs has negative effects, both on those who you are talking to and yourself. It makes those who are talking to you respect you less, and it indicates an underlying refusal to address the actual problem. "Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice." - Proverbs 13:10

6. There is a point of futility. "Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels." - 2 Timothy 2:23. "Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out." - Proverbs 17:14.

7. Finally, Christians are called to act in love. "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."-John 13:34. While love is honest, and takes genuine concern about others, "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." - 1 Cor 13:4-7.


Underneath everything is the issue of pride. Is our main goal here to learn, or is it to be right in everything we say? Are we humble enough to admit that we are wrong sometimes? To respect others even when they are wrong, acknowledging that sometimes we have made similar mistakes? To be gracious when others are not gracious to us?

Are we strong enough to be humble?

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