Christians often cringe at the thought of someone having an argument. Most say, or at least think, arguing is bad. I disagree.
The image often conjured up in the minds of Christians when the thought of an argument appears is one of two people angry at each other. Maybe yelling, or at least speaking very firmly. Whatever is happening, they know that it is unproductive. Both sides of the argument are sticking to their views and aren't budging one bit. People are getting hurt.
If this is the definition of an argument, then I totally agree. But that is not what arguing is. At least it doesn't have to be.
To The Dictionary
Here are a few different online dictionary definitions of the word “argue”:
Dictionary.com – to present reasons for or against a thing
Thefreedictionary.com – to put forth reasons for or against; debate
Merriam-webster.com – to give reasons for or against something
Arguing is just giving reasons for or against something. The word does not necessarily mean that it has to be done angrily or emotionally. It can be done differently.
The Mental Map
Think of it this way. Your view of the world is like a map. It tells you where everything is and how to get there. And just like a physical map, your mental map, if wrong, will lead you astray. To be corrected, you must have someone come in and show you their map. They have to show how it lines up more with reality. Once that happens, you can update your map and get back on the right course. The frequent comparing of maps can help you, and those around you, stay on course.
Each person has a view of the world around them. They have a view of what you should and shouldn't do, what is and isn't true about reality. Arguing is comparing those mental maps, trying to determine which one fits with reality more.
Discovery of Truth
And oftentimes, because we are human, we are going to be wrong. But we shouldn't admit defeat. The Bible tells us about the importance of truth. Our own desires tell us about the importance of truth. We all long for it. This means that we should always search it out. But searching it out means relying on others to help us. To help us by comparing maps, by arguing. It doesn't have to be a hard process. If you have the right motives, the discovery of truth by the correction of a friend can be a good experience. When comparing maps, your goal should be to know the truth about the world, even if the other person has it. Arguing isn't about being right. It’s about coming to know what’s right and helping others do the same.
Wherever the truth is, it is necessary to find it. And you have to compare mental maps to do it. You have to argue.
Are you someone who loves to argue, avoids it at all costs, or somewhere in the middle?