We live in an age of sharp division. According to the Pew Research Center, an “overwhelming majority” of Americans (86%) believe the country is more politically divided than it has ever been before. These political and ideological differences aren’t merely a matter of red or blue states; these same sharp divisions exist within many families, potentially alienating parents from children, sisters from brothers. When we disagree with those we love about some of our most closely held beliefs, must keeping the peace always mean keeping quiet?
I faced this conundrum at a recent gathering with my extended family. I felt I was doing fairly well. I was speaking up, respectfully, when confronted with beliefs I perceived to be one-sided. I was intentionally avoiding heated conversation while still carefully voicing what I believed was right.
Then I overheard a family member make an overt connection between “God’s plan” and a political party—a statement with which I strongly disagreed. I wasn’t directly part of the conversation, so I didn’t want to awkwardly insert myself into the situation. But I felt a strong desire to express a different viewpoint. What should I do?
If “keeping the peace” means never rocking the boat in order to avoid family disagreements, then I’m against it. In fact, it is my faith that often prompts me to not stay silent in these situations. It’s my commitment to faith-in-action that nudges me to graciously speak up in the hope that everyone involved will be challenged by an honest exchange of ideas. This commitment can be hard to sustain; hardest, perhaps, with those we love the most. For many of us, controversy is the last ...1
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