When two people disagree disagreeing parties are often urged to reach a compromised position. After all, Christians are told to live peaceably (Rom 12:18). We are to pursue the things that make for peace (Rom. 14:19) but is compromise a legitimate way to seek peace? In other words, does God want us to gain peace through compromise? Those advocating compromise are making the assumption that compromise actually brings peace and that God accepts compromise. Compromise means a settlement by arbitration or by mutual consent reached by concession on both sides: a reciprocal abatement of extreme demands or rights, resulting in agreement. A committal to something objectionable … a surrender; as a compromise of character or right.” In other words, to compromise is the willingness to adjust one’s beliefs to accommodate those who differ. It means that a person is willing to settle for less than one’s convictions. Compromise can be done by giving up a position, by accepting a position, or even by agreeing not to talk about a position. Most of us I think clearly see that such would lead to difficulties.
How can a Christian compromise with something God’s Word forbids? A compromise would require both to give up something they believe is a right and commit to something that both might see as objectionable. The problem is that compromise forces a division of loyalty and in the end, truth is no longer absolute. The primary command we have is to love God (Matt 23:37-39) and our highest loyalty has to be to truth (2 Cor. 13:8). When we allow something else to guide us it always leads to conflict. Many compromises are done in the hopes of making Christianity more acceptable to non-Christians but when we make friends of the world we make God our enemy (James 4:4). Compromise can also cause other Christians to stumble. Remember what Peter did by going along with some Jewish Christians (Gal. 2:11-13). What Peter did made him more acceptable to some Jewish Christians but because he compromised other believers were caught up in his compromise. The problem of compromising on any issue regarding things that are clearly spelled out as sin is that truth can have no fellowship with darkness (Eph. 5:11) and holiness demands that there be no mixture but separateness II Corinthians 6:14-7:1. God is light and in Him is no darkness at all 1 John 1:5.
Of course every issue isn’t clearly an issue of sin and the Word allows for differing convictions about things where there are no direct commands for or against. Areas of direct command are those areas that the Scriptures clearly speak to or address. Scriptures usually address these topics with numerous verses or principles that are easily understood. They are clear and repeated in Scripture. Areas of liberty are issues that there is no clear command, verse, or principle for or against. They are usually areas of minor importance. They have no bearing on influencing a person’s eternal salvation. They wouldn’t be inconsistent with the character of God. We need to learn to know when to be uncompromising in your stand for truth. (2 Tim. 2:14-16). An old saying that addresses this says:
1. In essentials – stand for truth.
2. In unessential’s – give liberty.
3. In all things – have love