With our final blog on truth, we want to look at how it manifests itself in this world. That is, is truth a Bible-thumping Christian that must always have a quick comeback for everything and consistently accost people in the store by saying, “You think a sale on milk is good? You know what’s even better? – Jesus”? Or, is it being a citizen that believes “#loveislove” and that love is, at its core, acceptance?
As we answer that, let’s once again reassert the undeniable: there is objective truth, and that objective truth is revealed in Scripture. What Scripture then tells us in Isaiah 5:20 is this: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”. Put simply: we must get our truth right, or there is God’s own “woe” of fury upon us. We then get that truth right by humbly submitting to God’s written Word and, as it bears witness beyond itself, to God’s living Word – His Son, Jesus.
So how do we go forward as Christians in a post-modern world? How do we as believers handle questions of homosexuality, transgenderism, and all the policy-driving questions of today? The Bible tells us that we must “speak the truth” – that is, we can never shy away from it; if the Bible says it, we must affirm it. But this truth must be spoken “in love” (Ephesians 4:15).
Vital to this conversation, then, is a definition of love, because too often we hear fellow believers embrace anti-biblical ideas along the lines of, “a loving God wouldn’t do such and such”. But truth in its very nature divides. It draws a line of yes or no, reality or unreality, what is and what is not. A sovereign God will certainly do things we don’t like, which is why we need to seek His revealed will in His Word. But it’s also necessary to remember, then, that the Bible tells us that “God is love” (1 John 4:8).
So how is love defined? 1 Corinthians 13 defines it in what seems today to be a radical way. Just see how counter-cultural it is. “4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
Now, this passage exists in ubiquity. It’s at weddings, slapped on decorations, and even quoted often enough on television. But this leads to a lack of a careful reading. Notice again how love is defined here: love “does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth”.
What this means is that in world of acceptance, true love has at its core an intolerance. That is, an intolerance for all distortions of love. According to Scripture, we cannot actually love someone if we promote anything less than truth.
So, what are some perversions of love?
Paul lists some in Colossians 3: “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). We see similar examples in Scripture, but the point is this: love desires the things of God, and thus it desires the created order of God. This means true love hates false love. It hates perversions of love. It is why, should a child think that he’s a turkey and want to be roasted in the oven, a loving parent would not try to affirm his identity by stuffing him with bread and basting him, but would rather say, “No, you are a child, for that is how God made you”. What defines a child is not his self-identification; it is his creation in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27, Psalm 139:14).
That means to accept a lifestyle that promotes something counter-Scriptural is not actually love. Rather, the only guiding principle for love is Scripture. As God determines, so we obey. This means that we must speak out not necessarily on political issues, but we must not shy away from politicized issues. It frustrates me how those who control the language determine the laws. With abortion, it’s become a “woman’s right to choose”. No one would or could disagree with that statement, but the conversation has been willfully shifted away from the child in the womb as a human being to focusing on the woman. By controlling the language, we are no longer dealing with the central issue, because to the question of whether we can kill the unborn, the answer is not about anyone’s right to choose. After all, if marriage makes us “one flesh”, can Syd now kill me because it’s “her body her choice”? (Syd, if you’re reading this, the answer is “no”). By politicizing morality, the entire landscape of the issue has changed, and evil makes its move.
I fear, then, that in the name of tolerance, many in the broader evangelical church – and even within our own CRC denomination – have become deeply unloving. The world may see the voice of the Christian as intolerant, bigoted, and not worthy of platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, but the world needs the voice of truth. We must continue speaking it patiently, kindly, and not arrogantly – it is unloving not to do so – yet there could be nothing more unloving than not speaking the truth. To encourage something less than God reveals in His Word is the most spiteful, hateful thing we could do to another person. The only analogy I can think is to refuse a starving man bread because we’re worried about his body image.
So, take heart, Christian: the Lord of truth is the faithful Lord. Dig into His Word – that firm foundation – and do not let your heart be burdened by this world. You have the truth in your hands, your mind, and your heart, and the Lord has called us to be witnesses to it (Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:19-20). Standing on the truth, the world may hate you, but God will not forsake you.
My name is Bryan Lanting. I am a graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary, and I am presently serving Mt View CRC as their pastor. I am married to a wonderful wife named Sydney, and both of us are loving life, loving Lynden, and loving the Lord!