One of the things I just love about God, our Lord Jesus Christ, is how steady and rooted He is. The Bible tells us that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The Old Testament reiterates that God, the ancient of days, does not change in Psalm 55:19 and in Malachi 3:6 and in many other books as well. The entire body of scripture emphasizes this characteristic of God over and over again. In fact, I do not believe that we can truly understand God unless we fully embrace this aspect of Him.
When we examine humanity, although we are ‘made in God’s image,’ we are fickle and our hearts lead us astray. In no way is this more evident than when we examine the concept of truth in modern American culture. I’ve been so dismayed at how we portray truth in our society. Surely we are reaping of results of not knowing what we believe and why we believe it. We are suffering from self inflicted wounds that are perpetuated by a profound disconnect with reality.
I can remember the first time the idea that ‘truth’ was a personal state of existence whacked me from behind and took me by surprise. Brittany Spears, who was once the Disney icon of what a good girl in America looked like, had started a relationship with a wannabe named Kevin. Naturally, since they were so thrilled with themselves and their new life, they signed on for their very own television show “Brittany & Kevin: Chaotic.” One of the tag lines for the show was, “Can you handle our truth?” This quote identifies the idea that truth occurs in one’s life by fiat (I can personally dictate what is real and true) and that truth is subject to change from person to person. It does not refer to an opinion or a lifestyle. What horrified me even more was that no one in the media or in society stopped to question that concept. Not to be unkind, but whatever ‘truth’ Brittany Spears is selling is the last kind of veracity that I want. But, Americans bought the idea en masse and a veritable parade of ‘personal truthers’ has followed. I am beginning to believe that we accept ‘truth’ or ‘fact’ that is individually based because truth that is independent and external to the individual has become offensive and inconvenient. It doesn’t meet our narrative and worse it shines a light on how shallow and self serving we can be.
Let us examine the idea of Bruce Jenner’s transition from a male to a female and the rhetoric surrounding this issue. First of all, let me first say that each person has different struggles and sadness. I do not want to detract from Bruce’s pain, because it is evidently deep seated and overwhelming. The fact that this incredible, handsome man with all of his talents and God-given gifts feels that he was born into the wrong gendered body isn’t funny; it’s not something to be dismissed. Does he have male genitalia? Evidently. Are there other genes involved in sexual expression and psychosocial aspects of human sexuality? I believe so and genomic scientific evidence does suggest that there are many more genes involved in sexuality than we previously thought. That said, Bruce, like me and like you, is made in God’s image. God loves him right when and where he is. Regardless of our concept of what is real and true and good, this FACT never changes. However, at what point do we in society decide to perpetuate a falsehood in order to show ‘support’ or ‘love’ for someone? Is Bruce really a female? All of the surgery in the world will not change his basic genetic structure. Is it healthy to advocate that a person who has ‘gender confusion’ undergo the gruesome surgery of sex reassignment just to meet their feelings? Feelings are elusive, like trying to grab hold of a cloud, and they change with frequency. Is it healthy to participate in the fascade because we think being truthful might hurt feelings or leave one branded as intolerant? I’d like to suggest that perhaps we have thrown the proverbial baby out and are keeping the bathwater. As a society, we have ‘exchanged the truth of God for the lie…” Society is worshipping the person rather than the person’s creator. This is a futile endeavor
Honestly, we are to expect a frenetic search for fulfillment in the secular community. People who have not met Jesus are longing for fulfillment, just as you and I also long to be complete. What is even more troubling about these ‘new’ (really they are the same lies told by the serpent in the Garden of Eden) ideas about truth is that they are being preached from the pulpits of the Christian Church. Daily, we can see some churches selling the prosperity gospel, for a small fee of course, being preached to the broken. Naturally, turning God’s house into a for-profit model is revolting to an audience of people, many of whom visit the local food pantry just to feed their families; people who really are watching to see if Christians walk the talk. Given that Jesus aggressively addressed this behavior in the temple (Matthew 21:13), we can know that He too is filled with anger about this and there will indeed be hell to pay…literally. On the other hand, we see a gospel of law without love being taught as well. “Well I’m sorry you are in that mess. Stinks to be you and by the way don’t expect help from me!” The tragedy of these falsehoods taught by Christian pastors is that is means that WE THE CHURCH have become the Levite and the Priest in the parable of the Good Samaritan. How saddened my heart is by this! And I’m guilty too!
As Christians, we are not immune to beautiful sounding lies that appeal to our innate, sinful desire to seek self and MY kingdom rather than Christ and HIS kingdom. Again, at what point is it ‘healthy’ to support these falsehoods? At what point do we as Christians stop pretending that this is okay in our churches? Are we also guilty of perpetuating a lie within the church because we don’t want to rock the boat in our own congregations? Surely a church without the truth is much more egregious to God than a lost soul who is hoping to find it in their many travels.
God wants us to want more for ourselves. God wants us to want HIM for ourselves, because in a world where genetic expression, point mutations, and human sin abound, only He is capable of saving us. Truth makes us free. It’s not something that can be found within if we dig deep enough, ‘evolve,’ or ‘find ourselves’ because at our very core is the seed of sin that we were born with. Remember, God is our Father and Christ is the Word. That is, Jesus is the truth, because He is ‘the way, the truth, and the light.’ In Matthew 8:31 Jesus tells his followers, “If you abide in my word, you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” I am not the creator of truth, nor are you. We do ourselves and each other a great disservice when we fail to meet falsehood with reason. God himself is reasonable. He does nothing without cause, even if we can’t see His reasons yet.
One of my favorite passages of Isaiah is in Chapter 1. Here are several verses that admonish us:
“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes.
Cease to do evil,
Learn to do good;
Rebuke the oppressor;
Defend the fatherless,
Plead for the widow.
“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.
If you are willing and obedient,
You shall eat the good of the land;
But if you refuse and rebel,
You shall be devoured by the sword”;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
Brothers and Sisters, Fellow Pilgrims, Come Let Us Reason Together. Let us approach falsehood with the understanding that we are not immune to buying a lie that can cost us everything, even our very souls. Just as importantly, let us gently, with deep love and kindness, pursue and share the truth in a world that has rejected reason. In this way, let us reflect the light and the love that Christ died to give us. May the Holy Spirit be our companion and comforter along a path that brings us no guarantee of ease. No one can run your race for you, but you will NEVER be alone. Amen.