In a culture that is increasingly polarized and divided, disagreements between friends about religion, politics, or morality can be difficult to navigate. Many people fear having these hard conversations and sharing the truth because they worry it will destroy their relationship with that person.
For example, a listener called in to The Patrick Madrid Show recently and explained that he has a close friend who was raised Catholic but is getting married outside the Church. Because Catholics are obligated to have a sacramental marriage, the caller doesn’t feel comfortable attending the wedding, because he feels his presence would imply an endorsement of the wedding ceremony.
Conversations like this are indeed difficult, but if each person is coming from a place of love it can actually make each person better, and lead to a better understanding of the other. As Scripture tells us, “Iron is sharpened by iron, and one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)
This was a situation in which Patrick advised the caller to share the truth of the faith with his friend, and not agree to something he saw as wrong. Patrick told him, “We believe in something called a conscience, and you have to obey your conscience. It has to be a rightly formed conscience, of course, but if your conscience is telling you that you shouldn’t do this then you shouldn’t do it.”
So if hard conversations can actually be a way to make each other better, why are we so afraid of them? And why do we see disagreements as something that we should avoid at all costs? Perhaps it is because some don’t see the difference between disagreeing with someone and rejecting them.
Following the conversation about the wedding another listener contacted Patrick and said that by his logic the person should also shun his friend for not receiving Communion, not attending church, and not going to Confession.
Patrick emphasized, “The flaw in your logic is that this has nothing to do with shunning anybody. It has to do with saying, ‘I love you enough to tell you the truth. And the truth is that what you’re doing is wrong. So I can’t be there to celebrate with you. But I’m not going to shun you. Let’s go out and have pizza, have a beer, let’s get together and do any number of things.'”
“It has nothing to do with shunning. It has to do with saying that this activity that you’re engaged in right here, as much as I’d like to, I can’t celebrate that with you. It would be a lie for me to do so.”
Allan Wright, a Catholic professor and author, offered similar advice recently on Morning Air®, encouraging listeners to have these hard conversations and walk with those whose beliefs or lives are different from your own.
He said, “We want to accompany people, we want to journey with people. But we want to sort of be wise enough not to go down a path where we’re going to support maybe ungodliness.”
Having difficult conversations can be uncomfortable, but if they are done with love they are a powerful way to share the truth of your belief with others, and help you examine and strengthen your own faith in the process.
Listen to the full discussion below: