A phrase that one hears a lot these days is ‘I’m just speaking my truth’. Truth however doesn’t work that way. Truth doesn’t come in individualized packages decided on by each person who claims to have a truth. Truth is universally accessible, and is the same for everyone. It’s like gravity. It’s everywhere and we do not get to choose whether it’s so for us or not. Now you can have your own feelings, your own ideas, your own political opinions and much more. And you can be totally honest in sharing how you think and feel about things. Honesty is one thing, but truth is another. You can be totally honest and totally wrong even about yourself. There are no private pieces of truth parcelled out to each individual which the individual gets to embrace and claim as ‘my truth’. It is however not surprising in the age of ‘me’. me first, the age of chronic narcissism that many Americans might think this way.
In the age of narcissism we have seen this behavior again and again even amongst people who claim to be devout Christians. Some of them are just in flat denial— ‘there has been no pandemic, and it’s false that almost a million Americans died from it’. This is a simple refusal to face the facts. Truth is grounded in facts, which are indeed universally accessible to all. Now facts can be misinterpreted of course, but when the vast majority of people recognize and accept what is indeed the truth about the pandemic, and you don’t, you don’t get to claim that ‘my truth is the pandemic was a hoax or a political conspiracy’. You need a reality check. Truth is grounded in reality.
Let’s take another example. The X and Y chromosomes of a human being determine whether one is a male or a female. You do not get to make a decision about what chromosomes you have. You just don’t. Only by defining ‘gender identity’ as something that could be completely at odds with and the opposite of what your chromosomes tell you about your gender could you have the situation we face all too often today in our culture. What’s wrong with this picture? A lot actually, because it means a person thinks or feels about themselves in a way that is in denial about what their biology, their chromosomes tell them. Now of course there are various factors that shape a person’s identity. No one disputes that. But if something in one’s self-understanding is at odds with the biology and chromosomal reality then there is a problem. One is in denial about a very significant and unchangeable fact about one’s self. Does one really want to have a personality that is at odds with one’s actual gender as biologically determined?
One more example. Perhaps you have noticed that when people are in denial about what is their reality, that they try and redefine the meaning of basic English terms that applied to the situation. For example, the word husband is an antonym of the word wife. By definition, a husband can’t have a husband and a wife can’t have a wife or else the language has become meaningless. Yes, a man can have a male partner, and a woman can have a female partner. True enough. This is in flat contradiction to what the Bible and two thousand years of Christian tradition says about a one flesh union between a male and female which creates a marriage and turns men and women into husbands and wives (and yes Jesus himself is very clear that for his disciples there are two choices— heterosexual monogamy or remaining single for the sake of the Kingdom— see Mt. 19). Now many human beings, including now too many Christians today don’t like Jesus’ definition of things. They don’t even like seeing that the terms husband and wife are antonyms which belong together. So they try to explain away what Jesus said, or even become patronizing and suggest that poor Jesus wasn’t enlightened like we are in this sex crazed, anything goes age. Really?
Perhaps it’s time to stop siding with Pilate who was cynical and kept saying ‘What is truth’ and instead say— ‘the truth will set you free’. And the reason to do that is, either you except the truth, or there will be problematic consequences, because truth has been structured into reality, indeed into our very biological make up. Enough said.