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How to Disagree with Family without Destroying Relationships

Jennifer Waddle

It was Benjamin Franklin who once said, “In the course of my observation, the disputing, contradicting, and refuting people are generally unfortunate in their affairs. They get victory sometimes, but they never get good will, which would be of more use to them.”

His observations make sense in light of the many relationships being destroyed through stubborn disagreements and irreconcilable differences. It’s sad to witness entire families divided when the Bible gives us clear direction on ways to disagree with our loved ones without letting those disagreements destroy our relationships.

There’s a powerful passage of Scripture in James 3:17-18 that says, “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” It’s the wisdom found in these verses that give us guidance on how to navigate disagreements without letting them get blown out of proportion.

I pray these biblical attributes will give you a new perspective in dealing with loved ones who aren’t on the same page as you. I pray that they will help you diffuse ongoing arguments and dissensions within your family. Most of all, I pray that you will have peace and unity in all of your relationships moving forward.

1. Be Peace-Loving

There are those who love peace and those who love to fight. But for Christians, having a combative spirit doesn’t bring the unity that God desires. Even when you disagree with family members, try to be peaceful about it. Purpose to be someone who is kind, gentle, and peace-loving as the Bible instructs:

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9

“And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” James 3:18

“Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” 2 Corinthians 3:11

Being a peacemaker doesn’t mean you compromise God’s truth. It does, however, mean you keep love front-and-center. When you love others despite their opinions and beliefs, you’re promoting a sense of peace that cannot easily be overturned. You can disagree with family and still keep the bond of peace in Jesus’ name.

Let’s pray. Gracious God, please help me be a peace-maker according to Your word. Instead of having an argumentative nature, help me seek peace and unity within my family relationships. Forgive me for being combative and stubborn at times. I seek heavenly wisdom today by loving peace and seeking to be peaceful with everyone. In Jesus’ name, amen.

More resources that promote peace:

4 Steps to Being a Peace Maker

What Does "Blessed Are the Peacemakers" Mean in Matthew 5:9?

The Peacemakers

2. Be Considerate

Listening well, speaking calmly, responding instead of reacting…these are all biblical ways of showing consideration to someone you disagree with. In contrast, harsh words that attack, cut people down, or display rudeness never bring resolution to the argument. Be considerate of family members who disagree with you. Try to put yourself in their shoes and understand why they believe what they believe.

Chances are, when you remain kind and considerate, you’ll diffuse arguments instead of igniting them. And hopefully, you’ll be seen as a “safe” person that loved ones can turn to in times of need.

The Bible says this about being considerate:

“Do nothing from rivalry 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.” Philippians 2:3-4

“Speak evil of no one, avoid quarreling, be gentle, and show perfect courtesy toward all people.” Titus 3:2

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12

Being considerate isn’t difficult when we focus on doing unto others what we would have them do unto us. This Golden Rule is a beautiful rule to follow—especially when we disagree. Don’t let a lack of consideration destroy your relationships.

Let’s pray. Heavenly Father, help us develop a heart of consideration for others and live by the Golden Rule. Remind us to treat our loved ones as we would like to be treated. Show us how to be considerate even when we don’t feel like it. In Jesus’ name, amen.

More resources to help you be considerate:

Be Considerate

7 Attributes of the Considerate Christian

3. Be Submissive

Submission has become a negative word in our society, but it’s a positive action in the Scriptures. As mentioned in Ephesians 5:21, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

Rather than trying to be right all the time, why not agree to disagree with a heart of grace and submission? This doesn’t mean you submit to false beliefs or ideas that oppose the Bible, but instead, you submit to stopping unfruitful arguments before they destroy your relationships. Submission isn’t a sign of weakness, but instead, a portrayal of great strength. Even if the other person views it as cowardly or weak, God views it as peace-loving and wise.

The Bible shows us how to be submissive in these passages:

“Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’”  1 Peter 5:5

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” Hebrews 13:17

Commit to being submissive to those who oppose you, stating the truth then letting God work. Allow the Holy Spirit to move by submitting to others out of reverence for Christ.

Let’s pray. Holy God, help us to be submissive in order to show others humility. Prevent us from fueling arguments from a place of resistance, and instead, allow submission to show our loved ones that we are committed to You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

More resources for submission:

Submitting to One Another

What You Need to Know about the Meaning of Submission in the Bible

4. Be Filled with Mercy

Showing mercy to others can move mountains in relationships. Mercy dissolves arguments and speaks volumes to the receiver. It offers an extended hand of warmth and camaraderie even in the worst of disagreements. Instead of judging or criticizing your loved ones, try offering a bit of mercy, even when it’s difficult. It will be one of the quickest ways to stop a heated argument and bring unity.

The Bible is full of encouragement to be merciful:

“Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” Colossians 3:12

“For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” James 2:13

“He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

As you are filled with God’s mercy, let it overflow to others. In your family disagreements, decide to remain peace-loving, considerate, submissive, and full of mercy. You’ll not only keep your relationships intact, but you’ll also be better equipped to witness to those who aren’t walking with the Lord.

Let’s pray. Merciful God, show us how to offer mercy to those who oppose us. Instead of continuing to argue, help us take a step back and realize that mercy triumphs over every disagreement. Most of all, help us keep the unity of peace for the sake of Your name. Amen.

Related Resource: Listen to our FREE podcast, Faith Over Fear! You can find all of our episodes on LifeAudio.com. Listen below to our latest episode on anxiety:

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/evgenyatamanenko

Jennifer Waddle is the author of several books, including Prayer WORRIER: Turning Every Worry into Powerful Prayerand is a regular contributor for LifeWay, Crosswalk, Abide, and Christians Care International. Jennifer’s online ministry is EncouragementMama.com where you can find her books and sign up for her weekly post, Discouragement Doesnt Win. She resides with her family near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains—her favorite place on earth.