Note: This is the 11th in our series What Is Love?: A New Testament Reply based on Paul’s description of love and informed by discoveries in relational science
Synopsis: Here is provocative help in examining your relationship with truth as it applies to issues of you and love, examining your inner and outer truth sources, the genius of truth versus wrong instead of right, and helping yourself and your love relationships through truth rejoicing.
You and TruthWhat is your relationship with truth like? Can you be truthful with yourself in answering that question? If you can, the answers to the following queries may both help and surprise you.
Deep down in, do you usually really want the truth? Do you usually really give the truth as best you know it to be? Do you sometimes hide from the truth? How are you with honestly admitting the truth when you are shown to be wrong? Could you be one of those people who is usually quite sure you are right and others are not? Can you face difficult truths well?
How important is accuracy to you? What about you and revealing the complete truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth; and when is that not a good idea to you? How are you with both giving and receiving white lies, embellishments, spin, avoiding hurt feelings and slanting the truth in your favor? Are you good at lovingly being truly magnanimous (seeing both sides) as differing and disagreeable truths are presented to you?
You, Truth and LoveIn love relationships, and especially in romantic love, truth has been largely but subtly discredited and, in a sense, quite frequently taught against. So many romantic love stories are tales of deceit and subterfuge done for the sake of succeeding at love (see “Lies And Love”). No small number of books exist about how to use deception to attract a mate, catch a mate, keep a mate, control a mate and even cheat on a mate and not get caught (see “Betrayal in Love and Handling It Well”). They all tend to ignore the super important love question “can something real be built out of something false?”.
The evidence for truth in love being necessary is pretty strong and that is true not only for romance but for love relationships with kids, friends, family, comrades and even with oneself. I know that in my long career of having counseled thousands of couples, families and alternate lifestyle relationships, I have seen significant lies and falsehoods work better than truth – maybe only four times (see “Compersion: A Newly Identified Emotion of Love?”). I hope that you at least suspect that in the long run truth, even hard truth, mixed with love works far better than falsehood.
Let’s look at love and truth in your life. Are you more or less truthful to the people you love? Do you think they are mostly truthful with you? Do you think your way of treating them encourages or discourages your loved ones telling you their truth? Do you see giving your truth as a way of giving your love? If you tell a hard to hear truth do you mix it with love i.e. gentle tones, caring facial expressions, affectionate touch, comforting gestures, etc.?
Are you prone to watering down some truths, making it sound better than it actually is or perhaps seeing it through rose colored glasses? Is being unnecessarily blunt, abrupt, brutal, harsh, mean, cruel and sometimes using truth as a weapon to hurt or be harmful in your repertoire?
Paul told us to rejoice in the truth. Do you do that? Paul seems to indicate real love motivates us toward truthfulness and truth works against wrongfulness and toward doing right. What are your thoughts about that?
So, even though your culture and perhaps your upbringing may have taught you against it, are you good and getting better at doing love with truth? Do you want that skill and to be good at it?
What Is Your Truth about Truth?Truth, for us humans, is a whole lot more complicated than a lot of people seem to think. It would appear that about truth we all “see through a glass darkly” as the Bible says. Arguably, for us to rejoice in truth, it will help to have a fair understanding of truth and its complications. Here is an example. In an area called phenomenological psychology, experiments show that no two people ever have precisely or exactly the same perception, concept, or truth about anything. Different people mean different understandings of everything. So, if you go far enough into exactitude, you will find diversity not sameness. I suggest That Is a Truth To Rejoice About because it means sharing our diverse truths can be ever so intriguing, enriching, enlightening and bonding if we do it with enough love. Otherwise, it could just mean trouble.
Who and what do you trust to give you the truth? Where do you suppose, what you call truth, comes from? Do you think you really have trustworthy ways to discern truth from falsehood? It would appear Paul sees Deity as wanting us to, via love, seek the truth, find the truth, live the truth, see truth as opposed to the wrong, and rejoice with and in the truth. I find it interesting that, as usually translated, Paul did not juxtapose right from wrong but instead used the word for truth. In philosophy, truth often has been linked with concepts of right, goodness, justice, beauty, fairness, well-being, virtue, righteousness, etc. Ergo, is this indicative of the truth being more important than being right? That certainly is not true for some people. How about for you?
In your life, do you think truth usually is easy or hard to ascertain? Have your ways of deciding what is true and what is not worked well for you or not? Are you open to finding new and perhaps better ways of discovering and working with truth in your life? How about in your love life?
Inner and Outer Truth SourcesWe all can be said to have available two sources of what we decide is our source of truth. One can be called our inner source. This can encompass our reasoning, IQ, insightfulness, gut reactions, expanse of knowledge, type and form of habitual cognition, accessibility to our subconscious, emotional proclivities and more. Some rely on this inner source almost exclusively and others as little as possible.
Our second source can be called outer and it may include popular consensus, conformity pressure, authority figures, religion, preponderances of facts and data, science, global awareness, philosophical frameworks, historical trends, parents and family, status figures, influential charismatics, friendships, spouses, lovers and news media, etc. Some rely on one or more outer sources almost exclusively and others hardly at all. How about you? Do you know yourself well enough to know what you really are relying on and how much you are counting on that as your prime outer sources?
Now, factor this in. Some psychological research points to most people depending on a rather undependable source for deciding what is true and not true. That source is what their subconscious impulses, conditioning and emotions nudge them toward believing about what is or is not true. This can enable quick decisions but not necessarily good ones.
It turns out our subconscious sense often is heavily influenced by how it has been programmed in childhood to guide a person. It also is influenced by our psycho-neurobiology. For example, who becomes your first mate choice is thought to be mostly a non-conscious impulse driven choice for the majority of people. Scientific research predominantly points to your prevailing gender preference, psychologically and biologically, mostly to be coming from your genetics. This also can be true even for some of your political leanings and vacation preferences. To what degree those things are true for individuals varies as does how much those things are affected by psycho-social factors. Reason and facts often have very little to do with a great many of the choices we make unless we train ourselves to give them high importance (see “What Your Brain Does with Love – Put Simply”).
Right and Wrong Versus TruthWhat we humans call right and wrong is very problematic. That is because so much of what is called right in one culture is called wrong in another. The same can be said of different times in history. Furthermore, a great many things called wrong in one era become either right in another era or of no particular consequence one way or the other. In certain places and times not so long ago, a member of royalty loving a commoner was considered a scandalous wrongdoing. Actually this is still forbidden and even punishable by death in a few places. The same is true for love between people of two different religions. However, the prohibitions against interracial love and non-his and her standard gender love still exist but are fading or are under attack all over the world. Love itself is becoming the truth that is important rather than the classification’s status in which that love is done.
Perhaps this is the genius of using the term “truth” juxtaposed to the word “wrong” and instead of the word “right” in Paul’s teachings about love. One way I see this goes like the following. If we use healthfulness as the standard for arriving at what is right, we might have a much greater possibility of developing a far wider consensus about what we view as right and wrong. That in turn perhaps could at least reduce some of the contentious and destructive disagreements about who is and what is right or wrong going on in large and small relationship struggles all over today’s world. Arguably and in a sort of haphazard way, that very thing seems actually to be something of a slowly spreading trend. There is reason to suspect Compassionate Love (see “Compassionate Love, A Big Sign of True Love?”) and what is healthful, both individually and collectively, are increasingly a mutually emerging goal of people in a great many different places around our planet. Wouldn’t that be a truth to rejoice in? It seems likely that Paul and also perhaps Moses might concur.
Perhaps thinking along these lines may be of help in your own personal life. It has for me and for others I know.
A “Best” Translation?There are well over 20 English translations of the Bible and other partial and in the works translations that exist. Here we are dealing with what Paul wrote as “sugchairei de te aletheeia” interpreted here as “love rejoices with the truth”. Some other translations variously read “love takes pleasure in the flowering of the truth”, “is full of joy when the truth is spoken”, “joyfully sides with the truth”, “rejoices whenever truth wins out” and a favorite of mine “forsooth it (love) joyeth with truth”.
Eight translations read “love rejoices in the truth” and eleven as “love rejoices with the truth”. There are others with minor variations of those two. Remember, all translations can be used for studying and pondering what Paul hoped readers would understand from this 11th precept on love.
Rejoicing with TruthsRejoicing, perhaps with loved ones, as you discover new truths and as you hear about others’ discoveries and understandings can be ever so enriching. Rejoicing also can help you plant memories of what has been discovered or understood, as well as motivate further searching for more truths. Rejoicing together with loved ones helps love bonds grow as does lovingly exploring, sharing, discussing and even disagreeing about sundry discoveries and understandings. Yet, there are some issues and concerns to look at.
What do you do if you come across a new discovery or fact that differs from what you thought was true? Do you get upset, deny ignore, denounce, work to disprove, or what? Or do you get intrigued, want to look into it further, see it as a challenge for integrating into your compendium of knowledge, regard it as an anomaly to be tolerated but not unduly troubled by, or what? Can you perhaps have fun with it?
What do you do if, from a loved one, you hear something indicating their truth does not coincide with yours? Will you be lovingly magnanimous seeking to really understand their understandings, as well as your loved ones personal feelings about the matter? Bare in mind, we imperfect humans seem to manage only imperfect understandings i.e. “see through a glass darkly”. We also delightedly can learn there always is more to learn about everything, even contradictory truths.
How are you at handling bad truth and scary truth like a cancer diagnoses or your most dearly beloved doesn’t want you in their life anymore? Do you get busy checking it out to see if it is really true, look for what you can do about this bad or scary truth, get some help in dealing with it, seek to understand it more deeply and learn from it, or instead of those ways, fall into one form of dysfunction or another and stay stuck there.
How are you and handling good and happy truth? Do you let yourself really enjoy good truths, share them with others, linger with them, fully soak them up and let them nourish you as you celebrate positive truths? Do you let good truths inspire, energize and motivate you? I hope so, because that is what they are good for, along with “upper” feeling truths being able to trigger a lot of health-making responses in our neurobiology. It turns out rejoicing is really good for you and when shared it is good for your love relationships.
One More Thing – share these ideas with some others and while you’re at it, we would be pleased if you would recommend this site to them. Remember, it’s all about helping real and healthy love-relating and it’s free, totally free.
As always – Go and Grow with Love
Dr. J. Richard Cookerly
Quotable Question – When you give your truth, do you also give your love?