Welcome back to another episode of #MANLYMONDAY! Our bimonthly video series for Your Other Brothers. In this episode, I dive into the latest excitement on our site: namely, a pair of blog posts that sparked some unexpected arguments on labels and identity.

Conflict happens. But how do we handle conflict? Especially as people of faith and followers of Jesus? When we disagree can we learn to disagree well?

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OUR VERSES FOR THIS WEEK

Philippians 2:1-4 (ESV) —

“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

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DISCUSSION

How do you handle conflict — particularly conflict within the Church? Do you sweep it under the rug or tackle it head-on? How has conflict resolution worked for you and how has it failed?

  • I think that sexuality is such an internal war for each of us it’s goung to cause some conflict at times
    I think this site is very valuable and important to many people
    I left a 14 year old relationship with a man 5/6 months ago for Jesus, I was part of the scene, for all its good parts it is also a ugly place to be very often and it’s a very incestuous and dangerous place for allot of us to be
    I would label myself as Gay but that might change with time or it might not, all I try to do is hand Jesus my sexuality everyday
    Jesus hung out with everyone but the bible also tells us to keep away from anything that would lead us to sin
    Paul was forever dealing with a squabbling early church and had to deal with the many issues the church faced
    We face allot of issues individually and this is going to cause some problems at times
    Why couldn’t these recent arguments have been moderated or stopped, some people were hurt including the person who wrote this
    If you start up a site like this and feel called to this, should someone have stepped in earlier and nipped it in the bud and taken more responsibility
    I’m sorry if this does feel quite full on but I think it’s a question that needs to be asked

    • Great questions, Stuart. We only delete comments if they break our comment policy. Check our About page for more on that. It’s fine to disagree, but when things devolve to name-calling, personal or generalized attacks on people groups, etc, that’s when the conversation needs to be steered. Despite the passion in those posts/comments, I never felt it crossed that vitriolic line. May we all continue to have robust yet respectful dialogue here.

  • My approach tends to depend on the situation. But I can take things head on if I feel like I should. I am personally, however, uncomfortable with conflict.
    I would like to say a few things to the authors regarding this whole issue of commenting. Expect diverse opinions. Expect passion. When you allow open commenting, you give everyone a platform. That’s the nature of online media. Expect your opinions to be challenged. And do not equate a forceful or firm challenge as incivility or a lack of love.
    If you are going to write something controversial, then expect controversy. It is hard for me to understand that one could title a post that way and not expect some pretty firm responses. If you open a can of worms, do not be surprised by the reaction of others to the sight and smell.
    At the same time, a word to those of us who feel free to comment. Just because we can challenge an opinion doesn’t mean we should expect anyone to immediately agree with us or even want to engage us. There is this thing called emotional capital. The less someone knows you the less likely they will be inclined to trust your opinion. We have to be in this for the long haul, and invest in one another emotionally. We have to know that we love one another, or the conversation is pointless, and our words will have little impact. Have you even prayed for the brothers? I would hope so, particularly if you feel they are wrong.
    And to everyone: words themselves do not convey inflection, tone, or facial expression. Accept that the other person is communicating in good faith and in a gentle tone regardless of the words. Everyone deserves that benefit of the doubt. UNLESS THEY ARE EMPHASIZING EVERYTHING BY CAPITAL LETTERS. THAT IS A GOOD INDICATION THAT THEIR BLOOD IS UP, IN WHICH CASE YOU SHOULD CERTAINLY BE PRAYING FOR THEM.
    Love you, brothers. And, yes, I am guilty of mansplaining. Sorry.

    • Great thoughts, Kirk. You’ve inspired me to pray for my other brothers on a more regular basis. That when I might disagree with someone, I shoot up a quick prayer in love for him as I —hopefully — respond in love.

    • Good point about emotional capital. I’ve had exchanges with people online where I was thinking, “Dude, I’ve known you for 10 minutes and I haven’t enjoyed any of them. Are you expecting to change my mind here?” The Internet gives us a shortcut to other people’s eyes and ears but doesn’t give us a shortcut to their hearts.

  • Great manly Monday as always Tom. When it comes to a lot of the arguments going on lately, I think it just demonstrates what tends to happen in any social movement. Little bit of an extreme example yes, but Martin Luther King had to deal with radical, moderate, and conservative branches of the civil rights movement and they were often butting heads and getting into arguments over things. Yet somehow they pulled together and accomplished great things. I’m sure that was due to their own Christian conflict and disagreeing well. So I imagine we can pull together and do great things too!

    • Indeed, other people groups and causes have faced a lot of internal conflict despite the common goals shared. In our case, to comfort the afflicted and educate the spiritual masses. All things considered, I think we’re actually fairly united here. Encouraging, despite any conflicts here and there.

  • Love that verse of the week…a great reminder. I admit…any kind of conflict is so hard and I tend to the least confrontational kind of person you will meet. When I worked for a Christian service organization, we had massive amount of conflict that was a heartbreaker. And, before moving, the church I went to and was active in had huge conflicts over the pastors that lead to many people leaving. My way of dealing with these things is to go into “hiding” and not talk about it or add fuel to the fire, so to speak. I’m not very articulate so I tend to go “underground” and process things in my own way. Anyways, it isn’t so important what I think…it is more important to put other’s before myself.

    • I’m not articulate either, Dave. Or at least I rarely ever feel that way. So I get you on that front. My thought is generally, “Someone else could say it better.” And so I’ll shut up and let them. Unless they don’t. In which case maybe I’m the one who needs to say it?

  • I am in a church that has had its share of conflicts the last few years. Although I am one who normally avoids conflict, I have found that sometimes it is unavoidable, so I approach it directly, but hopefully with God’s love along with it.
    I have been quoted and criticized by websites that oppose my church and also met with opposition from my own pastors. It helps not to fear others’ opinions yet still speak the truth in love. It has been better to stay and work through the differences than to leave and have an easier, more comfortable life. Taking the easy way out is usually not the best way.

    • Speaking the truth in love is such a basic yet critical component to all of this. Are we approaching conflict just to be right, or do we genuinely care about the other party and all parties involved, wanting what’s very best for them? Such a game changing position.

  • Here is a story about how conflict-avoidant I am:
    Last year I was having some work done on my house. On the first day, the construction workers showed up at 7:30am, as they do, and parked a trailer in my driveway. It was blocking my car in. It was a Monday. I needed to go to work. But I got really anxious about asking them to move the trailer.
    My solution?
    I called in sick.
    This fun and cool story is a great example of unhealthy conflict avoidance! Brought to you by the number 9.
    It seems like conflict is often complicated and exacerbated by parties not only disagreeing about something but also disagreeing on how important that thing is. What’s nitpicky to one party is essential to the other. Party A sees it as a hill to die on, and maybe has a hard time taking Party B seriously if they don’t take the issue seriously. Or maybe they feel abandoned and betrayed, like the people they thought were allies aren’t actually interested in fighting alongside them. Party B sees it as a peripheral issue, and quickly gets frustrated and impatient when Party A “gets hung up on” or “distracted” by the issue. Party B then makes “This isn’t a hill to die on” a hill to die on, and the focus of the conflict shifts without anyone really realizing it, and people are talking past each other because they’re still talking about the issue and not the meta, which is where the real conflict is at this point.
    What do you guys think? Pursuing unity is easy when we can agree on how important different issues are. How can we pursue unity when some people hold an issue tightly but others hold it loosely (and don’t want to hold it tightly)? Is “agreeing to disagree” only possible when both parties see an issue as peripheral?

    • Quite the conflict-avoidant story, Ryan. I’ve camped out in bathroom stalls for minutes (hours?) at a time. Looking back, my passivity really bums me out. I want to be known as someone who handled his problems instead of hiding from them. So many convicting memories.
      You raise a good point about what issues are critical and which are peripheral. I think there’s often a huge disconnect in those understandings.

  • Thomas Mark Zuniga

    I'm a storyteller and story-liver in Asheville, North Carolina – the Jewel of the Blue Ridge. I'm YOB's cofounder and editor, and I also host our bimonthly podcast. I've written a couple books, including a memoir in 2013 where I first came out to the world. Once upon another universe I anonymously blogged about my faith and sexuality under the Xanga username, "twoBeckonings." I'm an INFJ, an Enneagram 4w5, and my spirit animal is the buffalo. My favorite place in the world is the one where coffee and vulnerability meet.

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