In a world where having a different opinion is often laughed at, it is possible to follow Jesus Christ’s example of loving others, being kind, and avoiding contention while standing up for the gospel.
It can be intimidating to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Society’s opinions differ so widely from the truths of the gospel, and not everyone is as happy to hear about what we believe as we would like them to be. So what do we do? Do we keep silent, nodding in agreement at everything within earshot? Or do we wield the gospel about like a mallet, bashing nonbelievers with it in the name of calling them to repentance?
The answer is neither. In his Ensign and Liahona article “Be an Example of the Believers,” Elder Von G. Keetch addresses the discrepancy many of us feel between our responsibility to stand for truth and righteousness while avoiding contention with others. Although Elder Keetch acknowledges that “saying anything at all can quickly lead to strife and contention,” there are ways to maintain balance between loving others while still standing up for the truths we believe.
Perhaps one of the most important things we can do when discussing different opinions is to engage with others one-on-one whenever possible. “In today’s polarizing culture of stinging one-liners and perpetual attempts at one-upmanship,” Elder Keetch says, “little is usually accomplished in group free-for-alls. That is especially true with social media, where we must be careful that our comments on a sensitive societal issue do not veer from the spirit that Christ would want us to convey.” It is usually more productive to strive for mutual understanding with others face-to-face.
Elder Keetch goes on to say that, while we do want to invite all to come unto Christ, our initial goal in engaging in discourse with those of other opinions should not be to convert. Our goal should be to show respect towards others and to seek to understand where they are coming from. The bottom line is that we should always strive to follow the Savior’s example and “act as He would act.” If we do this, we will be able to overcome differences of opinion and build bridges we might not be able to build otherwise.
—Michela Fleshman, Mormon Insights
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Find more insights
Read “Push Back Against the World,” an address given by Elder Dallin H. Oaks at BYU-Hawaii. Elder Oaks encourages graduating students to “push back against that part of the world’s values and practices that draw us away from the Lord’s teachings and our covenant obligations.”