“Speak Your Truth”?

“Speak Your Truth”?

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

pollard

Neal Pollard

“Speaking your truth means that you stay true to who you are, whether it’s your feelings, opinions, or morals. Don’t hide what you feel for the sake of someone else’s approval of you, it shouldn’t work that way (sic). Rather, you should stay true to your own opinion and voices, no matter what anyone else may think. While it’s easier said than done, you won’t ever regret speaking your truth” (source). Look at website after blog post, philosopher after supposed pundit, and you get further definitions of what people mean to convey by the phrase, “Speak your truth.” How did the phrase originate? 

Huffington Post credits Oprah Winfrey in a speech at The Golden Globes in 2018. She advocated creating positive change by “speaking your truth.” The article’s writer, Claire Fallon, seemed shocked and aghast at backlash to the phrase. Like Byron Tau of The Wall Street Journal, who tweeted, “Oprah employed a phrase that I’ve noticed a lot of other celebrity (sic) using these days: ‘your truth’ instead of ‘the truth.’ Why that phrasing? ‘Your truth’ undermines the idea of a shared set of common facts'” (1/8/18). She quoted Joseph A. Wulfsohn, who objected, “When we rely on ‘our truths,’ we get to choose what to believe.” Fallon defended the phrase as an exhortation for the less powerful to find their own voices and credited a 1927 poem as the genesis of the phrase, in a Max Ehrmann poem entitled “Desiderata” (source). 

So while there can be great merit and value to one respecting the feelings and opinions of others or advocating for those without power, there is inherent danger in the very idea of individual, subjective truth. In her excellent book, Total Truth, Nancy Pearcey quotes Udo Middelmann, who said we learn about objective truth from the time we are born. She then writes, “When a baby crawls to the edge of the crib and bumps his head against the wooden bars, he learns in a painful way that reality is objective. When a toddler tilts his high chair back until it falls to the floor, he learns that there is an objective structure to the universe. Reality does not bend itself to our subjective desires–a lesson that can be painful to learn even for adults. Thus we can confidently reject any philosophical position that leads to subjectivism. Why? Because it fails to account for what ordinary experience teaches us day by day. It is in tension with the data of experience” (395). 

Our calling is much higher than being true to self, following our own feelings, opinions, and morals. So much can distort and deform these things–selfishness, fleshly desires, improper and immoral guides and guidance, etc. (cf. Eph. 2:1-3; 4:17-19). Truth is transcendent (existing apart from and not subject to the material universe) and immutable (unchanging over time or unable to be changed). 

  • It can be practiced (John 3:21)
  • It can be known and it emancipates (John 8:32)
  • It is exclusive (John 14:6)
  • It is something we can be guided into, and it is exhaustive (John 16:13)

Men try to suppress it (Rom. 1:18), exchange it for a lie (Rom. 1:25), and disobey it (Rom. 2:8). But, philosophy defeats the idea of subjective truth (“your truth” and “my truth”) and Scripture makes clear that there is only one truth. You don’t have your truth and neither do I. God reveals the truth to us, and He holds us accountable to follow it. 

Veronica Partridge’s Proclamation

Veronica Partridge’s Proclamation

Neal Pollard

On January 5, Veronica Partridge, “Christian Blogger,” posted an article entitled, “Why I Chose To No Longer Wear Leggings.”  Her essential answer was that she did not want to dress in a way that would potentially make someone other than her husband to “think lustfully about” her body (www.veronicapartridge.com).  How do I know about the blog?  I did not even know who she was until I was running on the treadmill this morning and Good Morning America was running a story about it.  Then, in Googling “Veronica Partridge Leggings,” I saw that such websites as “Huffington Post,” “New York Daily News,” and “The Inquisitr” have written opinion pieces about her words.  Just what is visible from the Google result reveals that they do not necessarily appreciate her point of view.  What is her point of view?

She spoke to her husband and asked if an attractive woman in form-fitting pants was in view, did it present a potential heart struggle for him.  He said it did, and at the end of her post she wrote, “And at that moment, I made a personal vow to myself and to my husband. I will no longer wear thin, form-fitting yoga pants or leggings in public….I also want to set the best example of how to dress for my daughter. I want her to know, her value is not in the way her body looks or how she dresses, but in the character and personality God has given her” (ibid.).

The commenters in response to her blog said some of the same things I’ve heard people say in response to sermons I’ve heard preached or that I’ve preached on modesty.  “It’s not the woman’s fault if the man chooses to lust.” “If a guy’s going to lust, it doesn’t matter what the woman is wearing.” “Who defines modesty?”  Truly, this is a difficult matter to preach or teach well.  Why?

  • People have different standards of what is modest and immodest.
  • Some women are unaware of how revealing or provocative some items of clothing are for most men.
  • Some men may pressure or persuade their wives and daughters to dress in such a way.
  • Some women may like how certain men look at them when they are dressed in such a way.
  • It is human nature to place what we see as our own “rights” over how our exercise of such “rights” negatively effects others.

Those not interested in pleasing God will not be moved by biblical passages and principles.  For those who are, here are some things to consider.

  1. 1 Timothy 2:9 calls for the Christian woman to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly.  In context, she violated this with ostentatious clothing that blinded people to her adornment of good works and claims of godliness.  If “overdressing” does this, can “underdressing” do this?
  2. 1 Peter 3:2-4 ties together chaste and respectful behavior with clothing that draws attention not to the external but to “the hidden person of the heart.”  Is there ever a line where one’s clothing leaves the realm of the chaste (not have sexual nature or intention) and enters the realm of the immoral?
  3. Matthew 5:28-32 says that a man who looks at a woman with lust for her has sinned.  This is the man’s responsibility, but is it ever possible that a woman can so clothe (or not clothe) herself in such a way as create a stumbling block for him in this regard (cf. Mat. 18:7).

There are some items of clothing that are definitely chaste and modest.  Surely, most everyone would say that there are some items of clothing that are definitely not.  What God’s people must do is give serious thought to such things and do that which gives them the best chance to promote Christ.  This is but one area, but it is one area.

Giving Away Your Wedding Ring

Giving Away Your Wedding Ring

Neal Pollard

Brooklin Yazzle, a Mesa, Arizona, wife and mother, apparently handed out her wedding ring with the Halloween candy last week.  She had taken off her ring and put it in a candy jar to help her children carve pumpkins.  Later, things got hectic and she absentmindedly dumped her ring along with the candy into a candy bag to give to children.  Complicating things, among her treats were plastic rings.  She has made an appeal through the news to get it back, stating that while it isn’t worth much monetarily it has great sentimental value (FOX News).

Many of us can relate to such a mindless blunder.  To my everlasting chagrin, I lost my wife’s High School class ring back while we were dating (she married me anyway!).  It is not uncommon for a person to remove their wedding ring to work or play, but removing it in such cases is to protect it from harm or loss.

The American Community Survey and the Daily Beast collaborated to provide a list of the “Divorce Capitals of the U.S.”  The ignominious top ten list, from “top” to bottom, is: (1) Panama City, FL, (2) Sierra Vista, AZ, (3) Charleston, WV, (4) Medford, OR, (5) Reno, NV, (6) Deltona, FL, (7) Pueblo, CO, (8) Palm Bay, FL, (9) Jacksonville, FL, and (10) Grand Junction, CO. In six states, the divorce rate is between 12.64-14.35% per 1,000 people, age 15 and older (Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Kentucky, Maine, and Oklahoma). Yet, the best of states still average 6.05-7.65% (Ashley Reich, The Huffington Post, 11/4/13).

This survey is but an example of a trend that is only tempered by a falling marriage rate, as more and more couples are living together without the sanctity of marriage. It shows that the dissolution of marriage is not confined to one area of the country, or more like in a “Red” or “Blue” state.  Are there steps we can take to keep our wedding rings?

  • Spend time together.
  • Have shared interests.
  • Focus on pleasing your spouse more than being pleased by him/her.
  • Make marriage a priority, not an afterthought or a “no thought.”
  • Make spiritual investments together (devotions, prayer, serving, etc.).
  • Spend time with couples whose marriages are healthy and happy.
  • Practice hospitality together.
  • Keep romance alive.
  • Keep Christ King of your home.
  • Avoid pettiness.

This list is not exhaustive, but it already gives all of us areas to work on and improve in.  We should remember God’s feelings, who said, “I hate divorce” (Mal. 2:16). Let’s hold on to our wedding rings!