In our small group tonight, we had a really good conversation based on the introduction to our new study book, They Like Jesus But Not the Church.
It's not common these days to sit around with a few friends who are really passionate about a subject and have a frank discussion. Passion is impolite. It leads us to say things that we really mean, without worrying as much as usual whether others agree with us. Even if there's no obvious conflict, there's always the risk that someone might secretly view our opinions in a negative light.
After I have a passionate conversation like this one, I have a tendency to worry about having exposed too much of myself, said too much, given an impression I didn't intend because I can't see myself as others see me.
But life is for living. If we never share our real opinions, we will never come to know one another. It's also inevitable that some people may choose to dislike us if they disagree with our opinions. Personally, I don't like or dislike people based on their opinions. My liking for a person is based on her character. I would gladly be friends with an honest, loyal, compassionate person who disagreed with me in politics and religion, as long as she was open-minded enough to accept our differences.
One of the problems with passionate discussion over the internet is that it's much harder to have a true heart-to-heart talk on a controversial subject.
I have had frank, in-person talks with friends in which we changed one another's minds and opened up new ways of thinking. I haven't seen that happen a lot on the internet. I think it's often too hard to tell whether the person you are addressing is truly open to discussion, or whether she's going to snap when you push a discussion too far. (By the way, I'm not referring to any particular person or discussion here. Just the abstract principle.)
Do you have passionate discussions with friends in which you disagree with one another in a civil manner?