Convictions and Civility – How to Have Strong Beliefs and Get Along With Others

Convictions and Civility combine to create Communication.

How do you engage in disagreement?

Convictions and civility.

I wish I could take credit for what I called the 5 Cs of Engagement with my kids as they grew up. I wanted them to hold firmly to their beliefs (convictions) but do so in such a way that they could communicate effectively and get along well with others (civility).

I picked up the concept – and have probably butchered it to some degree – from Martin Marty’s hard-to-find little book, By Way of Response, published in 1981.

In today’s political landscape I am reminded that the 5 Cs of Engagement aren’t just a lesson to try to impart to my kids, but a reminder of what I need to season my interaction with in a world where many people don’t believe the same way I do.

Here’s how simple it is. But be warned, putting it into practice is much harder.

Convictions without civility lead to conflict.

Civility without convictions leads to personal compromise.

Convictions and civility lead to communication.

Does that guarantee true dialog, mutual respect and understanding, and a fair hearing for all? Probably not in today’s climate of political, cultural, and religious debate where straw men are erected and slain; ad hominem attacks (attacking the person, not debating the idea) are flung capriciously; false dichotomies, half-truths, ad ignorantiam (taking advantage of people’s ignorance of a topic), and a host of other logical fallacies are the rule, not the exception. Maybe worse, is the move to preemptively silence opinions and arguments before they are even spoken with a priori claims that the uttering of the thought is illegal or immoral – usually by setting up a false dichotomy or straw man.

But ultimately, we are only responsible for our own conduct in handling debate and disagreement.

In the words of the Apostle Paul: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18, NIV).



  1. says

    This is so good. Especially in the politically correct era in which we live. In our home we are living this out. My daughter calls herself gay. We say she’s a child of God. We all love each other and have open communication and stick with our convictions.. We have had to embrace your 5 C’s . Thanks!

  2. says

    Would someone like to comment on this situation i had today while visiting my mother in the hospital with a broke hip. I Buzzed the hospital remote for a nurse to come help my mother get on her potty chair. Well when she came in the room she was mad at me for pressing the remote for her twice before she made it into the room. She acted like she did not want to help my mother. She grabed the potty chair & moved it in front of my mothers chair she was sitting up in. My mother leaned over to grab the potty chair handles & the C.N.A was not putting her arm around my mother to help her up or give her the walker so mom could pull herself up on it to stand. So i said mom don’t stand up until she holds on to you. Finally the C.N.A. held her up & when mom sits on the potty chair it moves. I said don’t lean back mom. The chair was to stay against the wall so it would support her back. I was so upset about the C.N.A attitude to treat my mother this way & in front of me. Well the C.N.A helped mom back into bed & said your night gown stinks & changed her. When she left mom said she was hateful. Well the C.N.A walked in & said what did she say. I told her my mom said you were hateful to her. I only wanted to tell the truth & the truth hurts sometimes, but the end result was the C.N.A knew it was true & she became nice again. Love more & Hate Less Is the Right Thing To Do. I am A peace maker just speak your mind with a gentle voice.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.