Friday, June 28, 2013

Speak the Truth--In "Love" -> Barf


The next time I hear a Christian tell me, "we need to speak the Truth--in Love," I may just barf up all over them. Puh-lease. I mean, Really?!? 

You see, it's not that the concept of speaking the truth is abhorrent, nor that loving others is. (Duh.) It's not even that sometimes, yes, you do have to tell someone something unpleasant for their own good.

The problem is that all too often this "love" is just a pretense. It is just a sham, a get out of jail free card. It is an excuse to make said Christian feel justified in taking others to task for their wrongdoing. Not only that, it is a habit that is easy to learn, and there are support groups for it that also pretend to be doing some great good (i.e., orgs that make it their mission to be perpetually outraged watchdogs). It is pervasive and pernicious.

Let's see.. what would Jesus say?
Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.
If your idea of "evangelizing" is to point out what people in society are doing wrong, to denounce and decry loudly from the street corners that they are doomed, you're doing it wrong.

We should be very, very reluctant to take others to task for what they are doing wrong because it almost surely means we are not looking at what we are doing wrong. And what makes it worse is that in overlooking our own faults, we fall into the even greater fault of spiritual pride and, quite possibly, begin to despise them. Heck, I am probably screwing up by just writing this post; I almost deleted it. See? It's a dangerous business..

If we truly want to love others, we need to first and foremost encourage them and celebrate the good that they do and then to have sorrow and compassion with them in their failings and difficulties, reassuring them that we're all in the same boat, that all of us need the grace of God, and that this grace is a freely given gift.

Read that last bit again. It's the pie slicer for our humble pie. Internalize it. This prayer by St. Thomas Aquinas is pretty good way to do it--pray it daily (excerpt):

My most holy Lady,
          I also beseech you to obtain for me
               true obedience and true humility of heart

So that I may recognize myself truly
          as a sinner--wretched and weak--
     and powerless,
               without the grace and help of my Creator
               and without your holy prayers,
          to do any kind of good work
          or even to resist
               the unrelenting assaults of evil.

Obtain for me as well,
     O most sweet Lady,
          true charity with which
               from the depths of my heart
          I may love
               your most holy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
               and, after Him,
          love you above all other things,
          and love my neighbor
               in God and because of God.

Thereby may I 
          rejoice in his goodness,
          sorrow over his evils,
          despise no one,
          never judge rashly,
          and never in my heart exalt myself over anyone.

Pray. Try. Remember. When you fail, try again.