“If the world is against the truth, then I am against the world.” – Athanasius of Alexandria
People love to play with truth. Have you ever seen a little kid covering their eyes and declaring, “You can’t see me”? The child either honestly believes or wants to believe that by covering their eyes from the world it means that they get to change reality (the truth) for everyone else. They have bought into the idea that “if I can’t see you then you can’t see me”.
How much do you love truth, and in saying that I mean the honest truth? Or do you want to love your truth?
In recent times people have started to shift from talking about the truth to sharing my truth. What’s the difference you may wonder?
Well, the Urban Dictionary is a good indicator of emerging changes in culture and language. Words have meaning and how we use them has implications. The Urban Dictionary says the meaning of My Truth is: “A pretentious substitute for ‘non-negotiable personal opinion’, and is a convenient phrase for avoiding arguments because people can contradict your opinion but not your ‘truth’”. The phrase my truth is often used when seeking to justify a controversial personal stance or action because people are not allowed to argue with your truth.
REDEFINE AND REBRAND
Ideas are powerful, and subtle changes in how we talk about truth move ideas forward and change the thinking about the nature of truth. The implication is that a new definition of truth will be made acceptable and normalised in society. Language and words matter! Language and words carry ideas, and if people can be coerced into saying certain ‘phrases’ that convey certain ideas, these ideas can become normal. It’s the old propaganda strategy of, ”If you tell a big lie enough, and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it”. We see this strategy currently being employed in the rebranding and redefining of the word ‘truth’.
Some quick examples of the ‘my truth’ ideology seeping into culture is the Calvin Klein brand advertising, “I speak my truth in my Calvin’s”. Also secular Hip Hop artist Nicki Minaj has a tv show titled “My Truth“, and pop singer Demi Lovato shares her identity struggles in interviews by declaring she is “Owning Her Truth”. This is but a small sampling of a big campaign to change how we talk and understand truth.
This is where we are at as a society, and instead of honestly seeing what is going on around us, we are instead looking within us and rebranding it as truth. In our day we are witnessing individuals redefining and allowing their own self determined identity to pose as reality.
LOVE WITHOUT LIMITS
What’s underneath the delusion? All this seems to be identity-driven, for it’s led by people who want ‘no limits’ placed on their relational desires and behaviours. They attempt to not only make feelings trump facts, but they treat feelings as facts so there can be no dispute over truth. So underneath a rebrand of truth is the motive of unconstrained and reckless individual desire.
We see the ‘my truth’ idea couched and rooted firmly in a modern distortion of love. A clear example of this is seen in the TV series called Modern Love. The tag line in the trailer of the show is ‘Love will find its truth’. The Modern Love blurb says: An unlikely friendship. A lost love resurfaced. A marriage at its turning point. A date that might not have been a date. An unconventional new family. These are unique stories about the joys and tribulations of love, each inspired by a real-life personal essay from the beloved New York Times column ‘Modern Love’.
The implication is the relationships and personal stories that are portrayed are ‘real life’, and therefore they signal and legitimise what is now deemed ‘modern love’. Relationships and love now can’t be questioned, and they are so fluid and free that they will find their own truth. To clarify this logic one could say that relationships get to define their own reality. It appears that modern love demands modern truth!
FINDING TRUTH WHERE?
Stephen McAlpine, in his book Being The Bad Guys, helps to make sense of what’s happening to truth in our times. He recognises a shift where the society is now locating “… meaning and purpose within the individual, and relationships of obligation have been replaced by “relationships of choice”. Our compass for who we are is not pointed outwards but inwards. We have become the source of meaning–our own meaning–where we only let people into our lives if they affirm and confirm our self-appointed True North”. The compass is broken and worthless if truth is derived from our own desires, imaginations and feelings.
Instead of taking the tag line from a tv show like Modern Love, it would actually be better to take the tag line from an old tv show (The X Files) that used to say, “The truth is out there”. The main characters, Mulder and Scully, would discover the truth no matter how strange or alien it may have been to them personally. When we look outside of ourselves we can understand a larger context (God’s big revealed story) and how we fit in it, but our eyes must be open to see it.
Rebranding truth has been the game since the garden, and buying this new but old lie of “love finding its truth” is the new clothing to dress up sinful and selfish desires. Going along with the delusion and feeding a self constructed identity is a fool’s errand. People need to come to terms with the world, not try to make up their own. Saleem Wright, a minister in Pennsylvania, recently said, “Truth is that which corresponds with reality. ‘My truth’ is an opinion. ‘Your truth’ is an opinion. The truth is external & fixed. If an opinion does not correspond to truth it is wrong…. Following truth is why the world will cancel me”.
Famous talk show celebrity Ellen says, “We need to learn to love people for who they are, and we need to let them love who they want to love”. But beyond the surface of these comments, how does this practically work when everyone expresses their love? It’s a potential ‘traffic pile up’ of individual love agendas that conflict and collide with other individuals who have their own selfish pursuits of love, and that ends up being anything but loving! Self-sacrifice and denial is the loving pathway we see put forth in the Bible and exemplified in Jesus (Luke 9:23).
“And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23, ESV)
SELF WILL FIND ITS TRAGEDY
To say love will find its truth is to make love subjective and truth void of any real meaning. The phrase bankrupts both love and truth of any value or worth. There is no context for these virtues and no contrast to have them shine against. Self-determined meaning ultimately is self-dishonesty and traps a person in manmade delusion until their death.
START WITH SELF OR GOD
Martyn Lloyd-Jones is helpful in anchoring us as individuals in the meta narrative (God’s big story), so we know of a greater reality existing outside of ourselves. He helps to save us from a vain attempt to create our own meaning, truth and love.
Certain truths that the Bible tells us are absolute essentials if we are to understand ourselves and the world in which we live. So what does it have to tell us? Well, the whole case is put in the first three chapters of the book of Genesis. We have here the complete biblical view of history and of humanity. We need not go any further; it is all here. So what is it? What am I to make of life? How am I to understand myself, my problems, my disappointments, my unhappiness? How can I face all that? That is the question, is it not? And it is a perfectly fair and right question. But what am I to say about it? Well, the Bible, in a most extraordinary way, starts like this: “In the beginning God .. .”It starts with God. And at once I have shown you the ultimate distinction with respect to the views that are held about life. Because of necessity, before I begin to ask any questions about myself and my problems, I ought to ask questions like this: Where did the world come from? Where have I come from? What is life itself? What is its origin? The tragedy of the world today is that it starts too near to its problems.”
– Lloyd-Jones, Martyn. The Gospel in Genesis: From Fig Leaves to Faith
WALK IN TRUTH
As we love and walk in God’s revealed truth we will know how to live honest and loving lives. If we cover our eyes and refuse to acknowledge the truth outside of ourselves or the truth given by God then we will be left to our own delusions. The issue comes down to each person being honest and willing to accept reality, a God-existing reality. Will I accept truth and let that inform my identity, rather than trying to redefine reality to suit a desired identity? Will you love and walk in the truth (3 John 4), the truth that God has given you?
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”
– 3 John 1:4, ESV
Even if I don’t see you, you still see me! That’s the honest and loving truth about my truth.
In His Tread 👣,