In today’s overheated political climate, is it possible for two people with diametrically opposed political and theological views to have a civil conversation? Could they disagree with each other passionately and remain friends? Could they even clearly lay out their positions, challenge each other in the places they disagree, and still look for areas of common ground? To all of these questions, the answer is unequivocally, “Yes.” How do I know? Because I do it with colleagues all the time.
Not Your Average Cage Fight
Every month for over two hours in an enclosed cage known as a car, my friend and I talk about religion and politics. He is pretty conservative both theologically and politically, home schooling his children in order to ensure they are taught his values. I am pretty liberal. I love a great latte, wear Birkenstocks and drive a Prius. We have talked about just about every loaded theological and political issue from same gender weddings and ordination to Donald Trump. And, I know he looks forward to our driving and talking together as much as I do.
Which begs the question, “How?” You would think in a land of one side labelling the other “Libtards” and the other side yelling “Fascists,” that I’m talking about a fairy tale or just plain lying. I’m not. The way we do this is 1) We begin with a deep respect for each other as colleagues and the belief that each of us is doing our best to follow Jesus the best we can. 2) We are not trying to persuade, convince or browbeat each other into our various beliefs of positions. Instead, we are genuinely trying to understand the other. We ask questions. We challenge each other, sometimes passionately, pushing to try to figure out how the other thinks and why.
Personal Growth Can Be Fun!
I do not imagine we will ever be bosom buddies. The things that we like doing in our down time is vastly different. It is a different kind of friendship. I’m sure we still advocate and fight for the things we believe in. But, I am deeply grateful and get things from our friendship that I can’t get anywhere else. I believe we make each other better. At the very least, we have a deeper understanding of each other’s positions and what makes the other tick. And, despite disagreeing passionately in some areas, there are other areas that we work well together and support each other. I know that this is what choosing to disagree agreeably can lead to.