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How to Disagree Honorably

Jonathon M. Seidl

April 25, 2024 | 3 minute read


A couple weeks back, we kicked off the topic of honor and really dug into what it means. In essence, it means respect. As we ramp up in an election year, the idea of respectfully disagreeing with one another is important. As followers of Jesus, how do we disagree honorably?

Disclaimer: This post isn’t meant to be political. I spent too many years in the political arena, and I found myself burned out and distrusting of so many around me. I also found myself cynical and, at times, unloving. So this topic, in many ways, is deeply personal. Because for a long time I didn’t know how to disagree with people in an honorable manner. What I found is that it carried over into my interactions with co-workers and even bosses. It affected my friendships and my familial relationships, as well. When I didn’t agree with their position – no matter how trivial – I could become like a rabid dog tearing at the scraps of a chicken. 

So here’s what I want to implore you with today: We can disagree honorably. We can disagree tastefully. We can disagree without demonizing. And in fact, doing that sets us – or those who follow Jesus – apart in a way that truly makes a difference. 

So how do those who follow Jesus disagree? I think we have to turn to life’s instruction manual to find out. In the book of Philippians, chapter three verses 15 to 16, we get a clue. That’s where the great writer Paul is giving instructions on disagreeing. He says this: 

“Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.”

I don’t pretend to be a deep theologian, but I have studied what this means. (For more on the topic, you can check out John Piper’s little lesson here.) Here’s the gist: Paul leaves room for disagreement among those who believe in Jesus. Now, he’s confident that his way of thinking is true and right, but instead of yelling and screaming that, he says, “I know there are some that may disagree, and that’s OK. I’m sure they will come around.” (My paraphrase.)

Friend, that’s not what we’ve been trained to do, is it? We’re told – subtly and overtly – to take up verbal arms any chance we get. We claim righteous indignation for our positions, and we assault others with them. And when they don’t come around, we fire more and more salvos in order to knock them down. 

Can I ask you this: Is that really getting us anywhere? Are we really winning others over with that approach? I think you know the answer.

Instead, what we need to be doing is maintaining our positions without villainizing. We need to see that just because someone disagrees with us doesn’t mean they’re evil – especially those closest to us. We need to disagree but do it in an honorable manner. 

Now, is any of this to say that we shouldn’t call out evil, or that we shouldn’t stand up for truth and what is right? Absolutely not! What I’m saying, though, is in a culture that wants us to yell and scream, people who lovingly disagree are the ones that are going to stand out. And you know what else? They’re the people that will have the greatest impact. I’ve never seen someone change their mind after being yelled at and called names. Maybe you have, but I haven’t. 

The idea of “Living Second” is something we believe is practical. It’s not just a saying. It’s a way of life. This year, this election season, one of the most practical ways you can Live Second is to lovingly, honorably, disagree with others. 

Remember, they are a person. They have dignity. They’re not a punching bag or a stepping stone to making your point and “owning” them. 

By the way, this applies not just to political seasons. If you, as an adult, disagree with, say, your parents on something, you can still honor them. You don’t have to adopt their positions, but you can be loving and gracious. You don’t have to mock them, especially to others. You don’t have to publicly deride them. You don’t have to try and shame them. No, instead you can speak your mind in grace and truth, and then leave the rest up to God. 

Remember all of this as others try to rile you up over the next six months. It will be hard. I get that. But it will be much more peaceful. It will be much more effective. And it will be much more countercultural. 

Embrace honor in disagreement. It’s one of the most jarring ways to Live Second.


Jonathon M. Seidl

Jonathon M. Seidl

Jonathon M. (Jon) Seidl is a writer, speaker, and digital media strategist. He’s the author of the #1 bestseller, Finding Rest: A Survivor’s Guide to Navigating the Valleys of Anxiety, Faith, and Life.

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