BreakPoint: Are Truth and Love in Conflict?

Living as Christians in a Deeply Divided Time

For many Americans, the most crucial factor in their Thanksgiving plans is who they’ll have to talk to across the table. More on being Christian in a divided nation. . . .

In the wake of last year’s election, many Americans decided to spend Thanksgiving with friends instead of family. This year, I suspect it will be even worse. After all, once Uncle Bill starts talking about President Trump, or Aunt Sally weighs in on transgenders in the military, or Cousin Phil announces why a Christian baker should or shouldn’t decorate a cake for a gay wedding . . . well, who knows what might happen.

I’m not that old—not nearly as old as Eric Metaxas, in fact—but I can’t remember a time when our country, our communities, and even our families have been so ideologically divided. Not only do we disagree but we tend to see others not only as wrong, but as our enemies. On news outlets, college campuses—certainly on Twitter—civility is out the window.

It’s one thing to say “I disagree with you.” It’s another thing to say “I can’t even share a meal or stand the sight of you.”

But it’s exactly here that Christians have something unique to offer.

This is what I and a few other presenters will be exploring next month on the Q Commons simulcast. It will be an amazing, one-night event to educate, inspire, and offer people of faith creative ways to respond to the difficult challenges facing our communities. Hundreds of churches and thousands of participants will join in. I hope your church will as well. More on that in just a minute.

In my travels around the country, I see more and more that people—especially Christians—feel they have only one of two choices: to avoid important topics altogether, or to err on the side of not offending by compromising or burying the truth.

But that’s a false choice. The stakes of our cultural debates right now are too high. Too many today, including within the Church, seem to believe that truth and love are somehow incompatible: that if we speak the truth, we’re somehow being unloving.

But truth and love are not mutually exclusive concepts. Why? Because both are fully embodied in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (Jn 14:6). And, He is love incarnate (1 Jn 4:8).

Christians must ground our arguments, in both substance and in style, on the firm foundation of Scriptural truth.

First, Scripture is clear that each and every human being is made in the image of God and therefore has eternal dignity and value. As C. S. Lewis put it in “The Weight of Glory,” “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal . . .” And of course, we must treat every person with that kind of respect.

Second, we know that God’s established laws include the moral law as well. Though our capacity to fully comprehend and live out what is true and good is bent by the fall, what is true and good remains. As Archbishop Charles Chaput wrote in a recent issue of First Things, “Truth exists, whether we like it or not. We don’t create truth; we find it, and we have no power to change it to our tastes. The truth may not make us comfortable, but it does make us free.”

Exactly. And that is what we want for every human being—to be free to become all that God created them to be. This is what should motivate us in our interactions with everyone—even those who will hate what we stand for.

This doesn’t mean our approach will always “work” in the sense of avoiding conflict or convincing those who see us as their enemies. But it’s the right thing to do. And so we must engage this moment with courage and conviction.

I, along with a few others, will wrestle with this at the Q Commons simulcast event next month. Please, come to BreakPoint.org for more information on how your church can host the event. There’s even a special BreakPoint discount for churches.

 

Are Truth and Love in Conflict? Living as Christians in a Deeply Divided Time

Take part in the Q Commons simulcast “Healing Our Divided Nation.” Click here for further details on hosting the conference. And be sure to use this code: BREAKPOINT250 for a $250 discount for your church to host the simulcast.

You can also click here to register as an individual to attend at the location nearest you.

Resources

Q Commons
  • Simulcast registration website

2017-09-21 11:33:27

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  • Just One Voice

    Though our capacity to fully comprehend and live out what is true and good is bent by the fall, what is true and good remains. As Archbishop Charles Chaput wrote in a recent issue of First Things, “Truth exists, whether we like it or not. We don’t create truth; we find it, and we have no power to change it to our tastes. The truth may not make us comfortable, but it does make us free.”

    Some very good words there. Thank you John & Archbishop Charles Chaput!

  • Phoenix1977

    “And that is what we want for every human being—to be free to become all that God created them to be. This is what should motivate us in our interactions with everyone—even those who will hate what we stand for.”
    Fine. But than you shouldn’t be surprised or offended if you won’t get invited for the holidays or your invitations are being declined. Because to you it might be a moment to preach, for others it’s a time for happiness and comfort. And they don’t need confrontation as a side dish.

    • Jim

      Love doesn’t preach because its goal is to serve the other person, to build relationship – so the Scriptures teach us to speak the truth in love. Several of my family members (as well as friends) have a different point of view – I engage them in discussion (mostly asking questions to better understand their reasoning and identify the assumptions) and I acknowledge that I understand what they’ve said and how they feel. After identifying our shared values and beliefs I offer a different point of view and my reasoning based on my assumptions. I cannot control another’s response, but I am responsible for mine. On my part I will not raise my voice, I will be respectful and I will verbally affirm my love and esteem for them. If I “win” the argument but lose the relationship because I’ve been uncivil then there is no real winner. I learned that the hard a good while back. And it goes without saying that timing is everything.

      • Scott

        Jim: “On my part I will not raise my voice, I will be respectful and I will verbally affirm my love and esteem for them. If I “win” the argument but lose the relationship because I’ve been uncivil then there is no real winner.”

        Phoenix: “Because to you it might be a moment to preach, for others it’s a time for happiness and comfort. And they don’t need confrontation as a side dish.”

        You both make very good points here. One can’t change another’s mind through force… in fact, a person can’t change another persons mind at all. If someone decides to change their mind, they do it themselves and only if they are willing to open it in the first place. That willingness to open ones mind can only come from two places external to themselves… through love demonstrated by another and (us Christians believe) the Holy Spirit.

        Unfortunately the Christians you have encountered Phoenix haven’t shown you love. Ironically it is the very thing we (Christians) are supposed to show first and foremost… to everyone… including (and perhaps most especially) to those we do not agree with. Only love opens minds… hate will do just the opposite. Jesus makes that very clear… for those with ears to hear. : – )