Pitfalls in Communication: Clouding the Truth

Part 3 of a 6 part series. View series intro and index.

It’s hard enough to communicate with people who have different worldviews and come from a different culture—whether they are from across the street or another continent. Communication gets harder when it travels over gender lines. Add to this fact that we usually arrive with personal assumptions about meaning, definitions, and what information the other person has at their disposal.

So you’d think to make things a bit easier, we’d always be honest. Nevertheless, we aren’t. This comes from a heart that desires to please man and exalt self. Obviously, there’s always the old fashioned lie. More than that, there are (at least) three other ways we cloud the truth.

The first way we cloud the truth is that we tend to withhold truths or facts that could damage our reputation. Most of the time, we get caught in our tangled web, and when asked why we didn’t speak up about a certain truth, we say, “Oh, that slipped my mind,” or “I didn’t think it was relevant.” We all know that when truth is inconvenient for us, our tendency is to simply pretend it doesn’t exist.

Instead of lying, we often mask or distort the truth. We call this “manipulating” the truth. This could look a lot like withholding, however it differs in that we tell the truth but put a subjective spin on it. More prevalent than that, however, is that we can use our charisma and charm and make something look good, if it’s bad, or make it look bad, if it’s good.

Changing the Subject
If you want to find out how honest a person is (or how intelligent they are!) pay attention to how often they change the subject. People who change the subject often likely want to avoid the truth. This technique, of course, is similar to the previous two types of clouding truth.

Changing the subject, on the other hand, is a way for us to have an excuse to say, “I didn’t withhold, manipulate, or lie!” We are essentially telling the truth. But the deeper truth is that when our friend asks us how our heart is doing from the burdens of family, work, church, etc. we say, “I’m okay. Do you want to go the game on Saturday with me? I have two tickets?” or “I’m fine. What kind of pizza do you want to order?” The problem with this is that it puts up an open hand to someone’s face to say, “You can come this far and no further. I don’t want you to really know me.”

If we are honest with ourselves, we’ll find out that, truly, we aren’t very honest all that often.

Distinguishing Between Love and Lust

Augustine of Hippo, the great Christian theologian of the 4th Century, struggled mightily with sexual addiction before his conversion to Jesus.  In his autobiography, Confessions, he writes about his problem between figuring out what was love and what was lust in his early life:

Bodily desire, like morass, and adolescent sex welling up within me exuded mists which clouded over and obscured my heart, so that I could not distinguish the clear light of true love from the murk of lust.

I doubt that this is uncommon for most people — especially for nonbelievers, but for Christians as well.  So often we “feel” with our bodies and seldom understand what true love is.

In Proverbs, Solomon says to his son, “For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword.  Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol; she does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it” (5:3-6).  Obviously, this “love” is really love.  It’s lust.  It’s deceptive.  It’s adulterous (7:19).  This “love” gets you place in line to hell.  This “love” will lead to death, not an abundant life.  It seeks to steal, kill, and destroy true happiness.

I’m not a counselor, or a doctor, or a pastor  yet.  But I know that true romantic love is rooted in the gospel of Christ.  It is reflective of Ephesians 5:22-33.  True love is about service and sacrifice and joy and delight and rejoicing in Christ, not the person.  C.S. Lewis talked about gifts from the Lord being “the sunbeam” and God himself as the sun.  The beam from the sun is not to be delighted in, the sun is.  In the same way, God’s gifts are like sunbeams.  They lead us to the greater glory of God himself.  That is what true love should do.  Lust only distracts us from God and causes us to be idolaters.

Seek your satisfaction in Jesus above all things, and soon the murky fog of distinguishing between love and lust will clear into a bright summer day filled with heavenly delight and joy, not guilt and shame.

I’m Going to Marry an Amazing, Jesus-Loving Woman

As of Friday, December 26, I am engaged to be married to Carly Anne Forsman.  She loves Jesus, hates sin, is crazy enough to want to be a pastor’s wife, and reads Charles Spurgeon and John Piper.  Ah, what more could a man ask for?

Many of you know that I’ll be in South Africa for the next 11 months, so be praying for us as we plan and prepare for our wedding and marriage over Skype, emails, and letters.  It will be an awesome challenge to do this, but something we know that the Lord has prepared us for and will guide us through.  Our wedding day will be in early January 2010.

I love you, Carly, and I long for the day to come (and it will very soon!) when we start the rest of our lives together.  I’ve told you before that I don’t believe people can complete other people, but I believe that God made you to be the love of my life after Jesus.  You are beautiful.

“Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it” (Songs of Solomon 8:7).