My wife and I are marriage nerds.
We like to go to marriage conferences and to read marriage books to improve our marriage and to learn more about the dynamics of a good marriage. One thing we hear again and again is the phrase “its not about who’s right and who’s wrong”. Usually its intended well, in order to help couples in conflict resolve by considering the other person instead of accusing your spouse.
I think this attitude is not just present in how culturally we approach marriage but its also prevelent in our view of love in general. Argument is an ugly word, which is represented by images like the one above. Debate is also out of the question if you care for the person… and everyone has been part of a conversation at the dinner table where there was suddenly a debate and communication just eventually broke down.
In fact this reminds me of what Paul was saying in Phillipians when he said “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (Phil. 2:3) The goal in our interactions shouldn’t be getting one over on the other person but the others good.
Theres the rub though, for the others good. So just simply avoiding the language of right and wrong in relationships can’t be the answer. In fact that kind of attitude can have the ugly effect of slowly removing topic after topic and placing them into the category of “we don’t talk about that” until all thats left is conversations about things that are meaningless to life. Maybe this is why sports and TV are such a popular topic of conversation.
Another line from Paul might help. In his great love passage in 1 Corinthians Paul says that “love does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth”. This brings us another stop closer to the right attitude. Love rejoices with truth. There are three ways love rejoices in truth in my opinion:
1. Honesty with one another.
When I neglect honesty with my spouse or with a friend its like a wall comes up between us in that area. If I’ve kept something back or even lied about a financial decision then everytime we talk about that area I no longer seek to know and be known alone I also am thinking about how to avoid getting caught in my lie. Then that “wall” will grow as I try to be more careful in keeping my secret hidden. Intimacy takes a hit when walls grow and I’m amazed by how much closer I can be to my wife after I’ve fessed up on some area I had messed up in.
2. Unity in belief.
Another crucial area is the same as a big part of why Christians should learn apologetics. Working through to the truth helps us to
- Solidfy our convictions together
- To have understanding of the counter view and therefore often to have some empathy for it (if there is continued disagreement now its disagreement with understanding)
- Work out views of life that we can both agree on. This is incredibly helpful when my wife and I pursue goals or when I share a goal at work, when we agree on the reasons why that goal is important we have cohesion in our actions as well.
3. Gets us closer to the Truth, and from a Christian worldview that is a good thing in and of itself.
- “And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” John 8:32
- Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. John 14:6
This is because in a Christian worldview, we are created to know and to learn and the God of the universe wants us to come into the true knowlege of the way the world is and of the way He is. God is good because He is actually the greatest possible being not because He has built up an image of Himself that looks good and He wants us to not investigate too much. This is why He commanded that images shouldn’t be made of Him I think, because we are to really look at Him and form our believes based on that alone not on who we would like Him to be.
So, don’t beat up other people just to win some kind of war of words but absolutely speak the truth in love Eph 4:15. We ought to make a goal in our relationships to be truth seekers together. This requires commitment and the willingness to be exposed and critiqued but I think its worth it.