By Hannah K. Grieser

All five of our kids have attended an ACCS school that welcomes students from a variety of Christian denominations. This means it’s not unusual for some of those denominational differences to surface in casual conversations or in classroom discussions.

My own memories of attending the same classical Christian school include similar collisions of views. In high school, we started plenty of impromptu lunchroom debates, hashing out our different views on baptism or entertainment standards, trying to understand the opposition and defend our own position.

But here’s the remarkable thing: the bell would ring, and we would walk back to class as a cluster of friends—literally on the same team.

And now my teens are carrying on the same tradition.


Our boys frequently come home wondering how to answer a classmate’s challenge or asking for clarification on a Bible verse. They raise big theological questions that require open Bibles and careful thought.

Done rightly, disagreements like these can turn a profit. They can build character and deepen our kids’ faith. In a society beset by so much ungodly conflict, where molotov cocktails have replaced moderate conversation, learning to deal with our differences like Christians has never been more valuable or more necessary.

It’s precisely during these years when they’re still living at home, and the debaters are their friends, that our kids have the best shot at learning to disagree without taking offense or resorting to the world’s tactics—and without simply hiding from conflict. The older they get, the more crucial it will be for them to stand for what they believe, and to do so with both courage and grace. If we don’t guide them in this, who will?


Of course, not everything should become a debate. Maturity matters. Not even the most precocious first grader has the wisdom to spar with his buddies over eschatology. But as students get older, these discussions become increasingly worth- while—especially during the middle and high school years. We want them to show more and more interest in understanding the “why” of their beliefs and the “how” of defending them.

And if you’re reading this magazine, you no doubt recognize that these interests align with the logic and rhetoric stages of the Trivium. The teenage years are the ideal time for training our young people how to handle opposition and disagreement.

As you help your student learn the practicalities of iron sharpening iron, keep these tips in mind:

DON’T EXPECT TO REACH A CON-SENSUS. No one person may “win” the argument. But they are “winning” in another sense: they are learning to disagree without falling out of fellowship.

THIS IS ONLY POSSIBLE WHEN THE STANDARD THAT WE ALL APPEAL TO IS OUTSIDE OF US. If the world is right that truth comes from inside of us, all disagreement becomes, by definition, a personal attack. But when the standard is the Word of God, then these debates must drive us closer to the Word—and therefore closer to one another.

WHEN HANDLED WELL, OUR KIDS—AND OUR WHOLE FAMILIES—CAN LEARN FROM THESE DISAGREEMENTS, and come away from them wiser, godlier, and better equipped to stand for the truth.