I’ve been hearing a lot about compromise lately, thanks to the new wave of bipartisan rhetoric since last November’s election. Once again, everyone wants to work together, get along, just be friends. And I have to admit, it’s better than the partisan rhetoric we normally hear.

In the past day or two, however, I have begun hearing a slightly different conversation. Suddenly, people are asking what issues we should compromise on. And suddenly, we all realize that there actually is a gigantic elephant standing in the room. Compromise, for most of us, means the other side needs to give a little.

Yesterday I began to think about compromises I’m asked to make; they seem to fall into two categories. Compromises in relationships tend to be essential and highly valued. If I want to eat Chinese for dinner, and my friend would prefer Mexican, we compromise. Mexican tonight, Chinese tomorrow. On more significant issues (you homeschool your children; I send mine to public school), compromising for the sake of the relationship might mean agreeing not to argue about the issue, encouraging one another in the struggles, praying for one another.

The other kind of compromises fall in the moral/ethical arena: what I believe to be right and wrong, true and false. Will I lie if my employer asks me to? Will I stand by while unborn babies are aborted? People who compromise on these areas tend to be looked down on, called “flip-floppers,” and reveal their lack of conviction.

Politics seems to lie somewhere in the middle, and when there are only two sides, compromise can easily slip from agreeeable to apprehensible with hardly any effort. Especially if our side is the one who has to give too much.

What have your thoughts been, recently, in light of all this verbal hand-shaking? What compromises do you have to make on a regular basis? What issues will you never compromise on?