I love having a good conversation with someone who disagrees with me. Over the years, I've had hundreds of these types of conversations -- mostly with colleagues in the church who disagree with me about the place of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender faithful.
Though I don't know many people who share my joy in opening up a dialogue with those who they might call their "adversaries," I believe those conversations are critically important for us to have. This is especially true if we are to better understand and eventually open our neighbors' minds to the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in our churches.
So, with the hope that this will inspire you to pick up the phone, and invite someone you currently think of as an "adversary" to talk, I'd like to offer five tips on opening up a rewarding Christian dialogue with a person in disagreement with you.
- Approach the other person as a beloved child of God. See Christ in the eyes of the other person. Set aside every presumption you may have about him or her except that God loves this other, just like God loves you. This is often a mystery for me that our talk with help solve.
There is one crucial dynamic in all of these tips required to make this work: Nothing that the other says to you is about you personally. The other person speaks only from his or her ideas and so you need not take anything that person says as true about you. I am often disappointed and challenged by what the other says but I am usually not hurt or angered by it.
I pray for that same godly protection for you as you join in a conversation that I hear God calling us all to.