Truth and love
Finding the balance between the two
I like to drink. Not excessively of course (the Bible seems pretty clear on it’s instruction not to get drunk). However, my comfort with alcohol and ease in settings where it is served has caused some large rifts in my relationships. I have some close friends who argue that Christians should have nothing to do with anything of the sort. Their firm beliefs are that alcohol is dangerous, stupid, risky and brings out the worst in people.
I’m not going to lie, I know there are times when all of those things can be quite true. I’ve had friends wake up in alleyways with no clue how they got there. My best friend has an alcoholic father that has wrecked her family. Just last week, my roommate and I had to call 911 because we found a man bleeding from his head and stumbling into the middle of 7 Seventh Ave. downtown because he was so drunk. Alcohol has quite the sordid history (insert history of temperance movement here).
Even with all this evidence to alcohol’s moral degradation, I will still go out at night on occasion. I do this for a few reasons. Primarily, I am a loud person. I speak loudly, I laugh loudly and I am full of energy when it comes to telling stories. In day-to-day living, that much energy can be overwhelming. In a nightlife setting, I fit right in (whether I’m drinking or not). One of the other main reasons I did go out at night in my freshmen year (besides cheap ribs) was so that my non-Christian friends didn’t think I was judgmental.
A good friend of mine from high school is gay. He didn’t come out until a few years after high school and the backlash from his very religious family was overwhelming. He was completely ostracized and ended up getting kicked out of his house. I am of the firm belief that the message and joy of Jesus is love and I can’t understand how ostracizing someone could be an act of love. So regardless of my views about what may be right or wrong (be it drunkenness, homosexuality, or sex outside of marriage) I try and make people feel loved and accepted. Who am I to judge anyway?
This is where things get sticky between me and other Christians I know. The bible calls us to speak the truth in love, but I have found that people in general tend towards one side or the other: truth or love.
Most people are either a “truth” person or a “love” person, like me. Most characteristics, it falls on a gradient, but often people will tend to be on one side. Love people will accept anybody. They will take people’s flaws and say they are a product of his or her past and it isn’t their fault. Love people don’t judge. While this seems to be a reasonable way to live, often this type of person will forgo morality to accept others. Love people won’t tell you when you are wrong because they don’t want to offend. Heck, as a love person, I’ve even compromised my own morals to make others feel like they fit in, which is ill advised by anyone’s standards.
The other side is a truth person. They will always tell you when you are doing something you shouldn’t be. They will remind you that you are your own person. Your past does not define you, and you are responsible for the choices you make. They help you grow and make you a better person. Unfortunately, these people often give such rebukes in a harsh and unloving manner. They can lack compassion in the truth that they speak.
I dated a guy while I was in Bible college who was a truth person to his very core. He was consistently frustrated by my lack of strict moral principles. He would try to remind me of the standards I had committed to live by and I would try to remind him that it wasn’t his place to judge others. Neither of us listened well to the other. Instead of helping each other grow, we lived in a place of disrespect. Instead of enhancing each other’s strengths, we bred impatience and frustration. Who knows what we could have accomplished if we had learned from each other instead.
Speaking truth in love is such a noble goal. How great would it be if we could all be a part of challenging others to a higher standard while simultaneously meeting their needs for love and compassion?