Truth vs. Love

Since my late teenage years I’ve been obsessed with the truth. I wasn’t always like that. In my younger years I was an exceedingly prolific liar. I lied about myself to try and make people believe I was something that I wasn’t. I would lie to stay out of trouble. Sometimes I wouldn’t even have a reason for telling lies. I had a knack for it. I would look the person right in the eyes and do it with such conviction that I often got away with it if there wasn’t hard evidence against me.

I still remember what triggered my shift towards honesty. It happened sometime during my senior year of high school. I had skipped school by walking to the bus stop but not getting on the bus. I walked to a spot where I could watch my parents’ cars drive by on their way to work and then I went back to the house to enjoy my day. When my father got home he asked me if I had skipped school that day. My reaction was a stunned mixture of shock and embarrassment. Caught! Apparently the school had set up a process to call the parents of students who didn’t show up for school each day. I didn’t know it at the time. I was taken by surprise. All I did know was that I was caught. Ten different lies flashed through my mind in an instant but I didn’t think I could get away with any of them. So I did something unheard of in my young life. I took a deep breath and I told the truth.

Now it was my father’s turn to be stunned. That was definitely not what he had been expecting. He stared at me with a funny look on his face as he thought about the situation. Finally he told me that he wouldn’t punish me this time because I told the truth, but not to skip school again. I was dumbfounded as I walked out of the room. That was easy! I couldn’t believe it; I stayed out of trouble because I told the truth? That certainly seemed easier than trying to keep up with all the lies I was maintaining at the time.

Slowly I began to change. I started telling the truth more and more. Unfortunately (and as per usual) I began to take it too far. In the span of a few short years I changed from a constant liar to a person who would obnoxiously confront people with my perception of the truth. It’s easy to see why I wasn’t popular. Nobody wants the skeletons in their closet yanked out and paraded in front of everybody else, but that’s what I would do. It took more long years to break past that and finally achieve moderation where I could be true to myself without hurting others. It’s something that I still have to actively monitor today.

I was one of those people who would rather know the truth and be hurt by it personally than to be unaware of the truth. One of the lines I used to use was that I would have been the first to eat the fruit in the Garden of Eden because it was better to be aware of reality than to live in happy ignorance. I’ve changed my mind about that as experience scoured me like time weathers a stone.  There’s something magical about happy ignorance.

I’ve said all of this to give you sense of my perspective as I write the rest of this article. When I look at the world I see people exhibiting the same type of negative behavior that I struggled with in my own past. I see people that are self-righteous to the point of being obnoxious. Over time I’ve come to believe in a different way of operating, one that stresses love more than truth in our dealings with each other.

Don’t get me wrong. I still think that the truth is extremely important. It is important that people know who they are and that they aren’t fooling themselves. But it’s even more important for us to love each other, regardless of what we know to be true.

What I’m trying to say is that the truth is more important internally but love is more important externally. It is important that I have a clear vision of what I believe is true in order to make good decisions and live my life accordingly. That’s an internal focus. But the truth that we live by internally should not be the driving factor in how I think about other people and interact with them. The driving factor in external relationships should be love. Put simply, I need to look at the people around me with a filter of love rather than a filter of judgment against my personal standards.

That’s what we’re doing when we judge people. We’re holding other people accountable to our own personal standards. For example, I don’t have any tattoos or piercings. In my mind the truth is that these things are unnecessary affectations that hold no real value and represent a cry for attention, a desire to fit in or a desire to represent toughness. That’s what I think the truth is and as such my internal decision is not to get a tattoo or a piercing. Do I need to make sure that the people I see with tattoos or piercings know how I feel about it? Absolutely not. What good does it do me to negatively impact someone else for their decisions?

I know that the Bible is against people getting tattoos and as a result I hold myself accountable to it. But it’s not good for me to push that view on someone else. The fact is that there are awesome people in the world who have all kinds of tattoos and piercings. Even more importantly, there are hurting people who have tattoos and piercings that need a friend in their lives. If I’m judging them for their decisions then I’m hurting and alienating them even worse. That’s unacceptable.

Let’s bring it closer to home. My wife has a tattoo on her calf. If I had judged her for it or made assumptions about what it meant then it’s possible I would have killed the most important relationship in my life before it ever started. If someone was thinking about getting a tattoo or a set of piercings and they asked my opinion I would tell them gently what I believe to be true. I would not condemn them and I wouldn’t like them any less if they decided to get one. There is nothing about that tattoo that decreases a person’s intrinsic value, so why should we treat them as if it did?

Let’s go deeper still. What about gay people? If I truly have love in my heart for a homosexual then I have to tell them that it’s an abomination right? I have to try and save them from Hell right?

I couldn’t disagree more. In my experience gay people are some of the most gentle, kind and loveable people in the world. Unfortunately they are also some of the most abused, hurt and scarred. Why should they be alienated and cursed? It makes me very sad when I see people using the Bible to justify this judgmental behavior. I know what the Bible says, but it also says that God will spit a lukewarm person out of his mouth. I don’t see anybody picketing lukewarm Christians. The fact is that the devil is doing what he always does. He is sowing division among people who are different and by doing so he pushes them away from what God really wants. God didn’t call for us to be divided; he called for us to love each other.

And Praise God For It!

Convincing someone to convert from homosexuality to heterosexuality does not win them a spot in Heaven any more than if you helped them to learn a foreign language. Heaven is about accepting Jesus’ sacrifice and making him your lord and savior. Making judgments of people isn’t easy and is reserved for the One who sees and hears everything. We aren’t qualified to do it. So if you really care about a person and want to see them saved then what you need to focus on is bringing them to Jesus. You’ll never do that with judgment, you can only do it with love.

Jesus was perfect and he loved prostitutes and swindling tax collectors who made Bernie Madoff look like a saint. Why do we think that it’s ok to use the Bible to justify hate when the whole book can be boiled down to two simple things – love God with all your heart and love your brother as yourself. I don’t know about you, but it’s impossible for me to show love when I’m filled with anger and judgment. The only way that I know how to show love is through compassion and understanding.

Do you want to be a stickler for the truth? That’s great. Hold yourself accountable for it. I’m with you; I have to do the same thing. But please don’t judge others by your standards. Love them instead. You want the world to change? Love people. You want to feed the hungry? Love people. You want to stop crime and war? LOVE PEOPLE. You want to save people from the fires of Hell? Then stop judging them. Just love them.

Be blessed.


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Posted on February 18, 2012, in Christian Development and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Wow…I’ve believed this for a long time…since back in my early college days when I made my first homosexual friend. But it’s interesting to hear this coming from you. See paragraphs one, four and five–I was there for all of that. And I heard about the story with Dad not long after it happened. I’m really glad to see that you have learned that Love is a better answer than Truth (once again see paragraph four–parading skeletons–funny).

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