How Disagreeable Are Our Disagreements?

Santa Clarita Signal • Ethically Speaking Column • For August 15th weekender, 2015

 Disagreeing on Disagreements

David W. Hegg

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Have you noticed there have been myriad disagreements lately? With the recent Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, and the Planned Parenthood videos, and the various nefarious goings on among the politicos, we have had plenty to chat about and disagree about lately. It seems as if our daily lives are being played out on the debate team, and we’re getting better and better at sharpening our arguments and rebutting our opponents rebuttals. And actually, I’m quite enjoying it!

I’ve wondered for a while whether all the entertainment and social media we have substituted for real thinking are dumbing down the American mind. Maybe what we need are some living, breathing critical thinking problems. Well, now we’re up to our necks in them.

In every argument there seem to be three sides. First and second are those who are disagreeing, who sit on the sides of point and counter point. Take the Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage for example. You’d have to be asleep like Rip Van Winkle not to have noticed that the lines have been clearly drawn and the two sides are actively pinging one another.

The issue of abortion is cut from the same cloth. People are passionate about their views, and the recently released videos are fanning the flame of controversy and argument in a way we haven’t seen for some time.

Personally, I am all for robust debate on issues like these that speak to the very core of our human existence. I am all for interaction that makes people think, and think deeply, and – hopefully – think logically. I champion the presentation of truth and consequence, as well as a passionate attempt to persuade as long as it comes from a heart of genuine concern for truth, the welfare of others and especially the strength of our great nation.

But what I don’t’ appreciate is emotionally based, hatred-laced vitriol that intends only to demean rather than debate. It is apparent that some of you shouldn’t engage in these debates until you do some research, get your facts straight, and learn how to disagree agreeably.

As I said above, there are actually three sides to every debate. There are those who disagree, and then there are those who disagree about just how disagreeable the disagreement should be.

In the matter of same-sex marriage I’ve watched with wondering eyes as those in my profession, who have always claimed to stand for a biblical view of sexuality and marriage, have suddenly decided the disagreement really isn’t that disagreeable. They haven’t decided to disagree agreeably. They have decided to agree agreeably that the issue really doesn’t matter. And they have done so, not because they have always held, or now hold to the legitimacy of same-sex marriage, but because they are pragmatists and want to go along to get along. I have far more respect for those who oppose me than those who insinuate that the issue under consideration really doesn’t matter.

So, to those of you who are involved in debates on the social and political issues of our day, here’s some advice. Know your facts. Don’t allow tribalism or emotion to cloud your vision. Truth is truth and error is dangerous so do your research, evaluate your arguments, and cling to what is right at all cost.

And most of all, don’t try and tell us that it doesn’t matter what we believe about these issues, or that we should just go along with those whose warped thinking is slowly dissolving our national honor. Don’t try to convince us that our strong ethical positions really don’t matter or are hindering progress. And above all, don’t characterize our positions as wrong-headed just because you’re not courageous enough to stand for what we both know is right. That would be downright disagreeable.