The Value of Truth in a World Full of Lies


Have you seen the video that went viral in mid-April where Joseph Backholm, the Director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington, interviewed several college students at the University of Washington about his identity?

Backholm is clearly an adult male who is under 6 feet (5’9” to be exact) and Caucasian. He asked several college students a series of questions about his identity:

“If I told you I was a woman, what would your response be?”
“If I told you I was Chinese, what would your response be?”
“If I told you that I was a 7 year old, what would your response be?”
“If I told you I was 6’5”, what would you say?”

If you have seen the short 4 minute video, you know it is pretty surreal. The students weren’t willing to tell him he wasn’t a woman or Chinese or a 7 year old or 6’5” even though he is visibly not any of those things. One student was finally willing to tell him he wasn’t 6’5” though she appeared very uncomfortable in doing so.

Backholm then asked, “Would you be willing to tell me I’m wrong?” Each student expressed extreme discomfort at the thought.

One young lady felt it was not her place to tell other people if they are wrong or to draw lines or boundaries for them. Another student felt that as long as a person is not harming society, then it is fine for him to believe or behave any way he wants. The “you do you” and “I’ll do me” mentality that has permeated our culture since the advent of postmodernism is evidently alive and well. Too many people have fallen for the lie that truth is relative.

I can’t get that video out of my head. It is not just because it is so shocking to see how personal identity is being distorted today. I think the video is staying with me because of how difficult it was for the students to tell someone that he was wrong. Were these college students just afraid to appear judgmental or uncaring? Did they really believe that there is no harm if an adult man believes he is a 7 year old little girl? What was going on?

The video reminds me of Hans Christian Anderson’s story The Emperor’s New Clothes. Do you remember it? Two weavers fool an emperor into believing that his new clothes, which actually don’t exist, are invisible, especially to those who are unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent. These underhanded characters prey upon the ruler’s pride and insecurity. The Emperor isn’t willing to admit he can’t see the clothes because he is afraid people will think he is unfit.

When the Emperor parades before his subjects in his “new” clothes, no one dares to say that the Emperor is walking around naked, instead pretending to see the clothing. Finally, a young child cries out, “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!” It takes a child to point out the lunacy of the situation.

You and I must be like that child. American culture has lost its mind. It popularizes its ideologies through various forms of media and persuades people that to disagree is to be unenlightened, backwards, or hateful. I am afraid we have lost sight of the value of speaking the truth in love (Eph 4:15). The simple elegance of telling the truth is a courageous and loving act. We must be willing to do so even if it is unpopular.

Paul displayed that kind of courage. He confronted the churches of Galatia when they started succumbing to lies about how a person is saved. Paul lovingly yet boldly confronted the errors. He knew there could be consequences. The church could reject him, speak ill of him, malign his ministry, or worse. In his letter he asked, “Have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?” (Gal 4:16).Yet, he still wrote the letter because he knew that correcting the lies was more important than what the Galatians thought of him.

Jesus also modelled this approach during this earthly ministry. He was willing to confront lies because He knew our enemy is the father of lies (John 8:44). Satan wants to pervert truth and peddle his harmful deceptions like some sleazy snake oil salesman of the old west or those fictitious weavers in The Emperor’s New Clothes. He wants us to exchange truth for lies. One of the enemy’s most successful strategies today is deluding people into believing that truth doesn’t matter. Worse yet, he has cultivated fear in those who do see clearly so that they will be scared into silence.

Truth does matter. It is not relative. Truth is a person. His name is Jesus Christ, and over two thousand years ago He proclaimed, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). Truth matters because it is the key to real freedom. Lies enslave and destroy. Truth liberates and empowers.

However, we must also remember that the way we confront lies is important. You can say the right thing in the wrong way. As Warren Wiersbe once said, “Truth without love is brutality, and love without truth is hypocrisy.”

Sisters, be courageous. Confront the lies and lunacy of our culture. Don’t be intimidated into silence. Speak the truth in love over and over and over again. It’s why we are here. The world is drowning in lies, but each time we shine the light of truth, we help push back the darkness.

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