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Why are Christians always arguing?

The question "Why are Christians always arguing?" is a sweeping generalization. No one, including Christians, is always arguing; however, it does seem like we hear more about when Christians are arguing than when they are not. Some of this comes down to the perspectives we pick up from the content we are feeding on, and some of it does come down to the fact that Christians do argue at times.

A story about Christians working together and doing good for others by providing volunteers to the same organization for ten years is not as "newsworthy" a story as one of a church who is arguing and goes through a church split. The former operation largely carries on unnoticed while the latter counts as more interesting, or, even, a juicy bit of gossip. Sometimes we even see media outlets sharing stories about Christians arguing, but they are less likely to share stories about Christians who are living peaceably with one another, serving the Lord faithfully in their respective callings (see Matthew 6:1–4).

When there is argument and division within the body of Christ, we can be certain that it is painful to the heart of God and detrimental to the body (2 Corinthians 12:20; Galatians 5:15; James 3:14; 4:1–3).

Division is a tool of the enemy and the Bible warns that we are to avoid those who consistently cause division and do not repent: "But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned" (Titus 3:9–11; see also Proverbs 6:16–19; Mark 3:24–26; Romans 16:17–20; Jude 1:16–22). It is also worth noting that not everyone who calls themselves a Christian is truly a Christian, and not every local church is filled with Christian people. We are instructed to look at the fruit of their lives (see Matthew 7:15–23).

Arguments do not always lead to division, however, for when we consider others more than ourselves, we can arrive at a peaceable outcome. Philippians 2:3–4 says, "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." The church is made up of those who have been sanctified and are still being sanctified (Hebrews 10:12–14). When we are saved, we are brought into the family of God (Ephesians 1:5; Romans 8:15). No family is without its quarrels. There will always be differences of opinion, ideas that conflict, and personalities that clash. This doesn't mean we should avoid others or even that we should avoid arguing altogether. Conflict can lead to positive outcomes and compromises that benefit everyone. We see this in the Bible with the apostles Paul and Barnabas. They had such strong differences of opinion that they ended up parting ways, but there was a positive outcome. There were more churches planted and more people reached with the message of the gospel by them parting ways than if they had continued together. They did eventually reconcile their differences and work together in ministry again later (Acts 15:36–41; 1 Corinthians 9:6; Colossians 4:10).

Some arguments among Christians have to do with doctrinal interpretation differences. People have strongly held convictions, which are subject to shift as they mature and grow in their faith. If a fellow believer holds some convictions and beliefs that are not in alignment with yours, it may be productive to have a discussion about them so that you may learn from one another and grow in your knowledge of the Word together (2 Timothy 2:15). If you differ in your personal convictions from another believer, but the issue at hand is not a weighty or core doctrine of the faith, there is no use in arguing about it (see Romans 14:1–13). Paul puts it succinctly: "If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all" (Romans 12:18; see also 1 Corinthians 13:1–8). We should remain steadfast in the essential doctrines of the faith—things like the deity of Christ and salvation through faith. We can and should speak the truth of God's Word in love, even if the truth is unpopular (Ephesians 4:15). But our aim should be loving our brothers and sisters in Christ, not winning an argument (1 John 4:20–21). We are to "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear" (Ephesians 4:29).

Ephesians 4 is all about unity in the church and instructions for Christian conduct. In part, it says, "Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. … And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:5–16, 30–32). We should all seek to follow these instructions so that, as Christians, we will be known for our love and humility above all else.


Related Truth:

How should conflict within the church be handled?

What is meant by the command to love one another?

What is Christian fellowship and why is fellowship so important?

How can I be an effective witness for Christ? How can I effectively witness to a lost world?

What does it mean for Christians to be in the world but not of the world?


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