In a day and age where we are constantly bombarded with various worldviews and beliefs, I have constantly grappled with how to engage with others on social issues relating to family.
I am by nature a peace-loving person. When someone shares with me a sentiment that I don’t quite agree with, I often prefer to remain quiet in hopes that the conversation will divert to something else.
I don’t enjoy the experience of trying to explain my differing opinion, especially when the person I’m conversing with is strong-headed and persuasive.
This is coupled with the fact that I tend to find effective verbal communication challenging. Thoughts that I assumed were clear in my mind come out jumbled when I try to express myself.
Hence when it comes to discussing hot-button and sensitive topics that often require logical flow, quick thinking and reasoning, my responses are frequently sketchy and meek.
However, the Lord convicted me that my weaknesses are not an excuse to remain silent on issues that matter to Him.
As a follower of Jesus, I have a responsibility to defend His truth in my own capacity, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. His grace will be sufficient for me, and His power is made perfect in my weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9).
On my journey thus far, I have learnt three lessons which I am continuing to grow and mature in.
Learning to articulate
“Is a marriage strictly between a man and a woman?”
“Many people have sex before marriage, is that wrong?”
“Should a couple remain in a loveless marriage?”
Having grown up in a Christian family and attended church from young, I realised that my answers to the above questions mainly centred around “because that is what God has ordained” or “because the Bible says so”.
I wasn’t quite able to explain my views on these topics without using Christian jargon, or giving simplistic or politically correct answers.
This revealed that though I may hold firm beliefs about certain issues, I had not put much thought into the reasons for my beliefs, nor how to articulate them.
Other than continuing to build my biblical knowledge, I discovered I needed to be more up to date with the news, current affairs, various viewpoints, and even statistics and social science research surrounding these issues.
I also realised the need to practise expressing my thoughts, so that I can better articulate my views coherently and confidently.
Learning to engage
We are always encouraged to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), but how can we go about doing so practically?
How exactly do I extend grace and refrain from judgement, yet be unafraid to lovingly share my thoughts in a wise and tactful manner at the same time?
I have learnt that having soft skills for engagement are important.
I recall a friend sharing that she didn’t want to ever have children because that would hinder her current lifestyle which was comfortable.
Though I was surprised at the resoluteness of her decision and wanted to find out more, I simply responded with an “Oh”, and the conversation about that topic ended there.
When I went home that day, I kept chiding myself for being stunned into silence.
“Don’t I have my own thoughts on the value of children?”
“Why wasn’t I able to engage my friend in meaningful conversation on this topic?”
Those thoughts kept running through my mind.
Since then, I told myself that should similar conversations arise again, I will listen attentively and intentionally ask questions to find out more. Hopefully through that, I will be able to share my own opinions too.
I am learning that the aim of engagement is not to win the argument, nor convince the other person of my viewpoint.
My heart’s desire would simply be to understand them more, offer a different perspective and allow them to consider an alternative viewpoint.
They would then go away with some food for thought, and I would have gained more insight into differing views.
Learning to stand
Sometimes, I feel like I am fighting a losing battle when it comes to defining marriage and family.
In a world where anything goes, holding fast to what God has outlined in His original creation order seems like an impossible feat that will get you attacked.
However, Ephesians 6:13 is a constant encouragement to me.
“Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”
God doesn’t call me to go on the attack, He calls me simply to stand – to stand for what I believe He has lovingly designed for our good and for His glory.
A chance to get equipped
If you relate to my personal journey, my hope is that you will also be able to concretise your worldview and be confident in articulating your viewpoints, backed by natural law and social science.
To that end, my colleagues in FamChamps and I kick-started a new initiative last year called The 1825 Collective to help other young people.
The heart behind this programme is to equip those aged 18–25 to articulate, engage and stand in the areas of parent-child relationships, sex and sexuality, dating and marriage.
If you’d like to find out more, you can head over to www.famchamps.sg/1825Co. Registration for the 2022 intake closes on Friday, June 17, 2022!
Engaging our culture will be a long and often stretching journey, but may we continue to recognise the importance of it and take steps towards wisely doing so.
- Why is it important to care about social issues/trends?
- How are you forming your beliefs and convictions on such issues?
- What is one social issue you find it hard to articulate your views on?
- When was the last time you tried to engage in a conversation with someone on an issue where both of you had differing opinions?