Being Right vs. Loving Well
Picture the scene: a family sits around the dinner table. Father, mother, and their adult son with a guest, his new girlfriend, enjoy a lovely home-cooked meal. Not knowing the parents’ more conservative worldview, the girlfriend casually implies that she and their son had engaged in some premarital sexual activity. Both father and mother are shocked to learn that their son had violated the norms of the household and condemn the act as sinful. They then declare that the son and his girlfriend are no longer welcome for family meal night as long as they are continuing in this sinful lifestyle or until they are married. Son and girlfriend leave wounded and embittered.
Question: Did the parents show love to their son and his girlfriend?
I’m sure there are households where such a scene would be unthinkable, and yet I’m also confident there are some where this has been a reality.
Follow-up questions: How do you go about assessing whether someone has been shown love and to what degree does “truth” have to do with it?
I could imagine the parents, when explaining their decision to banish their son, claiming that they were “speaking the truth in love.” That is, sometimes the most loving thing you can do is tell someone the truth, even if that truth is a difficult one to hear. This comes from Ephesians 4:15 (read the whole chapter for context), and the worry is that Christian maturity is on the line if we don’t speak the truth in love.
Let’s face it, there can be a tendency to emphasize the truth-telling over the loving.
Why do we feel the need to make sure that other people know that we believe a particular activity is wrong (or right) or even to just be correct about something? It is an interesting psychological phenomenon - there’s this drive to want to be right and to have other people be made aware of your rightness.
What if we could trade that drive for the compulsion to be agents of unconditional love in the world? Would the world be a better place if we more often embodied the role of truth-tellers or love-showers? I’m not saying the two are always mutually exclusive - they certainly overlap at times.
But, if they don’t, which one should win out? And what would that look like?
Jared Byas writes all about this in his new book, Love Matters More: how fighting to be right keeps us from loving like Jesus. What does it look like to practice discourse and interpersonal relationships where love is prioritized over truth?
We had the chance to talk with Jared all about it! For the full conversation, click the episode link below and let us know what you think.
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