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Culture Wars: Is There Hope for Peace?

Doug Bender

September 01, 2022 | 3 minute read

Growing up in the age of culture wars has shown me that there is plenty we can fight about. I am one of those people who have strong opinions on many of those culture war topics (gender, sexuality, race, guns, abortion, etc.). Most people have strongly held convictions on these topics – hence why it feels like a “war” when we disagree. These strong opinions make it easy for us to continue to “wage war” with each other, but what would it take for us to find peace, instead? 

Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” and I’ve tried to live my life that way. Most people agree with the idea of peace, but resist the sorts of behaviors and practices that make peace possible. Peace is messy. It’s hard. And it rarely involves one side “winning” or “defeating” the other. So if we want peace, we will need to stop aiming for victory and start aiming for peace. Here are some helpful ways to encourage peace:

Making Peace Does Not Mean Giving Up

This is the first hurdle most people come to when trying to build peace. They think that even wanting peace means you have somehow given up. But remember Jesus came to give peace, valued peace-makers, instructed his followers to love their enemies, and was willing to die for those who hated him. Jesus even reminded his followers that he had the power (in the form of twelve legions of angels) to physically defeat his enemy, but he chose peace instead. Jesus shows us that peace is a position of strength, not weakness. Even in my own life, I have learned that aiming to resolve an argument rather than win one is harder, but it is also more likely to yield the results that I am actually looking for. 

Listen. Ask Questions. And seek to Understand.

When you hear a view or idea that you disagree with, your first instinct may be to counter by sharing your own opinions. But that will only raise the other person’s defenses (and thus the war continues). 

I recently reread the story of Jesus’s trial. He faced all kinds of false accusations and charges. Yet the Bible says, “He remained silent and gave no answer.” If anyone was capable of talking his way out of trouble it would have been the son of God, himself. But he chose to remain silent. Why? Perhaps because he knew that sometimes people are not actually after truth or peace. They only want to accuse, argue and fight. There are certain things you can do to encourage peace, but, in the end, it will require both sides to participate. Do not engage with people who just want an excuse to fight. You cannot win that fight. 

Instead, ask more questions. Be curious. Listen to their answers. And genuinely seek to understand the other person’s point of view. But beware! If you are not genuine in this search, the other person will see you as manipulative and insincere. And they would be right. Do not ask questions in order to trip the person up, but ask to understand. If you do this, then you are likely to discover the underlying values and experiences that have brought that person to that particular point of view. And more often than not, it is there that you will find commonality and thus a place to begin the peacemaking process.

Find Areas of Agreement

Most of the time it is easier to focus on points of disagreement, but peace requires a good set of bridges. Bridges are those places where two people share and agree on a value. How they get to, express or communicate that value may differ greatly, but I have yet to find two people who could not find shared values. Once you discover a value that you agree with, the other person will likely welcome (rather than fight and argue with) your explanation of why you hold that value. The reasons for you holding a value and how you express that value may vary greatly. But if you start with the values you hold in common, then when you get to those areas of disagreement you are less likely to demonize, insult or disrespect the other person. That is the beginning of reaching peace.

Be Willing to Disagree

Every person deserves the basic freedom to have an opinion (one of those underlying values), even if you consider it to be a wrong one. There is a certain humbleness and patience that is required for peace to be established. If you insist that you must be right and the other person must admit that you are right, then peace will rarely be the outcome. Making peace means giving people time to reconsider, ask questions, experience more of life and, yes, even disagree with you. Peace also requires that you consider that it might be you that needs to reconsider.  All of these things will take time. And granting people the freedom to disagree and still be in a relationship with you gives everyone the time they need to build towards peace. 


Peacemaking is not passive. That might sound counterintuitive to some, but bringing people together means engaging with the world around you, not pulling away. Take your convictions and do important things with them to make a difference. Just remember that trolling people online, losing your temper or refusing to listen to the thoughts and viewpoints of others does not encourage an outcome of peace. There is certainly room for public discourse, but, remember, people are much more likely to listen to your actions and your character. To put it another way, you can shout to the world that “Jesus is First,” but few will listen unless you also LIVE SECOND.

Want to learn how to Live Second? Discover more here

Doug Bender

Doug Bender

Doug Bender is an I Am Second writer and small groups coach. He developed many of the small group tools found at and has coached churches, organizations, and individuals to use I Am Second groups to share the message of Jesus with their friends and family. He also works with I Am Second's parent organization, e3 Partners, as a church planter and pastor in countries such as Ethiopia, Colombia, and the US. Doug and his wife, Catherine, have four children: Bethany, Samuel, Isabella, and Jesse.

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