- Love-Truth Divide
- Love-Truth Divide, part 2
We ended part 1 by pointing out that the world is discipling the church with a new definition of love. Love is being separated from truth and the church is beginning to abandon truth to embrace redefined love. This flight is the direct result of the rejection of truth by our postmodern culture. Rather than the church discipling the world, the world has discipled the church and we are sacrificing truth on the altar of love.
Postmodernism discards truth, reality and reason. The church, having abandoned reason for feeling and objective truth for subjective truth—”my truth, your truth”—will now, in the name of compassion, divide love from truth. Love is more important than truth. Love is above truth!
Jesus spoke and manifested truth and love. In fact, it was speaking the truth that we were desperate sinners that led Christ to manifest his love toward us by sacrificing himself on the cross.
The apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” Ephesians 4:14-15.
How are we to mature into Christ? How can we avoid being children “tossed about by waves” and “carried around” by the squall of false doctrine? How will we escape the influence of “human cunning,” of “craftiness in deceitful schemes”? By speaking the truth in love.
Suffering people are being deceived
Let’s not fail to note that the doctrines of postmodernism and gender identity are manifesting the Greek word for “deceit” (planē, variously translated delusion, deceptive belief, perversity and moral corruption) used in Ephesians 4:14-15. This accurately describes the lies of postmodernism (see What’s the Real Agenda of Trans Activists?). Sadly, many individuals struggling with gender confusion are being “tossed about,” sometimes by the LGBT ideologues and sometimes by the church. Meanwhile, those purveyors of identity ideology are practicing deception, perversity and moral corruption.
The Apostle Paul says that our response to all this is to speak the truth in love. We are to speak the truth, the Greek word alētheuō, “to tell no lies.” The word is derived from alēthēs, meaning: “true, pertaining to what actually occurs, real, not imaginary, honest, truthful, having integrity.” We are to speak the truth in love – agapē. This is the highest form of love. It is God’s love, unconditional, self-sacrificing love. This love is to be manifest by Christians. We are to speak the truth in love.
Herein lies the tension for the Christian’s response. We are to speak with integrity, not acceding to the delusion of the postmodern ideology, and we are to do it with charity, taking on ourselves the burden of speaking the truth, paying the price in our own lives, perhaps by being misunderstood, humiliated, like William Wilberforce, even imprisoned, like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., or executed like Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
Truth is not above love! Love is not above truth! They are distinct but inseparable ideas, two sides of the same coin. To apply them appropriately requires us to hold them in tension. Or to say it differently, love is the context in which truth is manifest. Truth manifests itself through the agency of self-sacrificial love. The love of Christ, that love expressed at Calvary, is not mere sentiment. It is real love, activated by the truth. Love and truth met at the cross.
How do love and truth work together?
The Bible calls us to exercise truth and love together. Truth and love must both be present in every situation. Someone has suggested that truth and love are like the two wings of a bird; both are required for flight.
As shown by figure 1, love and truth are distinct, yet they work together in a tension, each shaping the other in one’s daily life. Truth without the influence of love veers off into dogmatism. Love unbounded by truth degenerates to mere sentimentality. Integrity is found anywhere on the line bounded by truth and love. To paraphrase Francis Schaeffer, integrity is not a pinpoint but rather a spectrum between extremes.
Christ and the scriptures attest to this tension between truth and love. We are called to live in this tension.
We all are somewhere on this line, each of us at a different place. Our placement on the line at any given time is determined by at least two factors: our personal tendencies, and the particular context we find ourselves in.
Some people naturally focus more on speaking in love. In Acts 9, Luke writes about Tabitha “always doing good and helping the poor.” She died and “all the widows stood around … crying and showing [Peter] the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them” (Act 9:36,39 NIV). Tabitha may be representative of a personality that naturally lived more toward the love end of integrity. See figure 3.
John the Baptist, on the other hand, may serve as an example of someone living in integrity but more on the truth end of that spectrum.
The Tabithas need to be careful not to wander into sentimentality, and those like John the Baptist must avoid the temptation to step into dogmatism.
This matter of context needs to be applied in our conversations around the sexual confusion in our culture. When we’re talking with a homosexual friend or family member who is struggling, we will need to speak lovingly, without abandoning the truth. On the other hand, we may be confronted with an ideological perpetrator of the LGBT agenda, someone lying about their goals to destroy the family and binary sexuality, and actively seeking to recruit and deceive children and youth. In that context, we are to speak the truth knowledgably, with clarity and civility. (see figure 3)Besides our personal tendency, our context will also inform where we operate on this spectrum, more toward truth or more toward love. When Jesus said to the Pharisees, “You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil?” (Mat 12:34 ESV) he was speaking in love. And, he was speaking truth when he said to the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more” (John 8:11 ESV). But the contrast in his tone is unmistakable. This is pictured in figure 3.
Love and truth held in tension
Too often Christians have spoken harshly and dogmatically about homosexuality. They have failed to show a welcoming and engaging spirit. Not only have they left love behind, they have left truth behind.
In reaction to this harshness, the LGBT community and many young Christians are hurt and offended. But young Christians, in reaction to this lack of charity, have moved to the other extreme. In their desire to love and their eagerness to avoid a dogmatic spirit, they have failed to speak the truth. Such a practice is mere sentiment. As Christians we are to find the balance within the spectrum. If our tendency is towards dogmatism, we need to consciously express more charity. If our tendency is toward sentiment, we need to be careful to speak truth.
How are we to respond to those who are struggling with gender confusion? On the other hand, how are we to respond to the purveyors of the ideology who are ruining so many lives? Is this not analogous to two dimensions of the world of drug abuse, on the one hand, those whose lives are being ruined by drugs, and, on the other, the dealers who are pushing drugs for money and power? Do we deal with both groups in the same way?
As an example, transgender individuals have a 41% suicide attempt rate in contrast to a 4.6% for the general US population and the 10-20% attempt of lesbians, gays and bisexuals. Which is more loving toward a trans friend: to stay silent or to share concern over this reality?
Let us not be taken in by the rhetoric and the LTD–the love-truth divide–that some Christians, pastors and institutional leaders are making. This will only lead to a displacement of hope with despair for peoples whose lives are shattered. It will show the world that we have nothing to say.
- Darrow Miller
Cindy BennMay 20, 2018 - 12:50 pm
Thank you for this 2-part article on love and truth. So well-spoken and balanced. It was helpful to me as I think about how to engage in difficult conversations with liberals in my area.
Blessings to you and Marilyn!
adminMay 21, 2018 - 8:44 am
Glad you were encouraged by this blog. It is a tender balance that we are to live out. Think of you, Chad and the children quite often. So much of what the DNA is today, is because you were part of the team in those early years. Thank you for your life and influence.