Do You Argue Like This?

Today we're going to look at how the older brother argues in unhealthy ways. As you read these lines, think about how you do this in your relationships:

The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look!' (Luke 15:28)

The older son immediate reacts to the situation with anger. Then he plants his feet and 'refuses to go in' - being unwilling to allow intimacy. Then he raises his voice (Look!). Does any of this sound familiar to you in regards to how you conduct arguments?

All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends (Luke 15:29)

Then the older son plays the victim. He does so by exaggerating the facts ("all these years"), exaggerating the emotions ("it's so hard to be me! I'v been slaving away..."), and then by exaggerating the his own goodness ("I've never disobeyed once!"). Again, sound familiar to how you react sometimes? And don't forget to notice the word 'never' which comes up twice - that's inevitably a sign that we're playing the victim. 

But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him! (Luke 15:30)

The last form of unhealthy arguing that the older son engages in is that he dehumanizes his brother. He starts by disassociating himself ("this son of yours" as opposed to "my brother"), then he blames him ("he squandered your money!") then he demonizes him ("with prostitutes!" - even though he didn't know that). Again, sound familiar to what goes on in our culture today and in our homes?

Tomorrow and Thursday we'll look at some of the ways to get at the deeper things going on here, but for today, spend some time admitting to God that you often argue like the older son.