The truth about truth iii: Truth loves

It is common to hear people play truth and love off against one another.  Some argue that truth is all that matters.  Others argue that love is the only thing that counts.

In the early Christian tradition, however, truth and love are described as necessary and complementary.  The reason is clear: Truth without love can be cruel, overbearing, and judgmental.  Love in the absence of truth is flaccid and degenerates all to easily into condescension and pity.  Without truth, we run the risk of loving one another into a life that is beneath us.

Put another way, truth (at its best) loves.

I have watched people over the years forget this.  When they do, they defend their right to their opinion; they deliver messages, they are incapable of conversation; and what they know — even if they are right from time to time — is on display.  That kind of truth is easily corrupted.  It is truth that is capable of stunning arrogance and pride.  It is the kind of truth that kills.

Truth that loves is marked by humility.  When it is spoken it is offered, clearly and in a forthright way, but never with the intention to hurt or control.

It is a difficult balance to achieve and no one achieves that balance every time.  But the flight from truth into love without a truth is not the solution.

Truth loves and love must speak the truth.

About Frederick Schmidt

The Reverend Dr. Frederick W. Schmidt, Jr. holds the Rueben P. Job Chair in Spiritual Formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL, and directs the Rueben Job Institute for Spiritual Formation. He is an Episcopal Priest, spiritual director, retreat facilitator, conference leader, writer, and consulting editor at Church Publishing in New York. He is the author of numerous published articles and reviews, as well as several books: A Still Small Voice: Women, Ordination and the Church (Syracuse University Press, 1998), The Changing Face of God (Morehouse, 2000), When Suffering Persists (Morehouse, 2001), in Italian translation: Sofferenza, All ricerca di una riposta (Torino: Claudiana, 2004), What God Wants for Your Life (Harper, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Revelation (Morehouse, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Luke (Morehouse, 2009), and The Dave Test (Abingdon, 2013). He and his wife, Natalie (who is also an Episcopal priest), live in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, with their Gordon Setter, Hilda of Whitby. They have four children and five grandchildren: Henry, Addie, Heidi, Sophie, and Drew, with a sixth on the way.