Communications Skills: How to Stand Your Ground in a Conversation About Christian Beliefs and Gay Marriage


Difficult conversations require finesse to share your point of view while entertaining opposing views. The goal is to (a) point out disagreements without coming off as though one view is more superior than another (even if you think yours is better), (b) asking clarifying questions, and (c) bringing holes in the reasoning behind alternative views to surface.

Australia’s devout Christian prime minister, Kevin Rudd, models this in response to a pastor’s questioning of Rudd’s support of gay marriage. People in leadership roles need to take out their note pads before viewing what he shared and how he shared it.

Notice the following based on the video:

1. He is much less defensive in his demeanor than he is confident in his position.

2. He lays out the logic for his position on gay marriage by stating that after careful consideration of sound research, he has come to the conclusion that people do not choose whether or not to be gay or lesbian.

3. He goes on to explain how his position fits with his Christian learning, but he is also careful to state that his views are his own.

4. Rudd asks the pastor if it is his personal belief that being gay or lesbian is blasphemous. He doesn’t really get an answer from the pastor, but Rudd goes on to assert that he himself disagrees with such a position as a Christian.

5. When the pastor quotes from the Bible a verse that presumably indicates that marriage is between a man and a woman, the prime minister offers the biblical quote about slaves needing to be obey their masters.

In the end, the pastor and Rudd had not changed each other’s positions (nor would we expect otherwise under the circumstances). What the pastor most likely learned is that he needs to more carefully outline and support his own position in light of the prime minister’s response. That will certainly result in more critical thinking about the topic on his part, which is what too many of us seldom do before having these kinds of conversations. Careful use of Rudd’s strategy can lead to getting people to question their beliefs and values.

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You will like the article Powerful Questions for Correcting Someone’s Diversity Misconceptions.

About the Author

Billy Vaughn, PhD CDP is a cultural psychologist who trains cultural diversity professionals, consults with organizations, and develops training systems. He can be contacted in the Contact Us area of this site.


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