God’s Truth v Our Opinions

I’ve been bemused in the past several weeks (actually years) to hear folks debate as though their pronouncements change Truth.

This is not to pretend that I know Truth in its fullness. Mastery of Truth is the domain of God. Or for those doubting that there is a God, hypotheses regarding Truth are the domain of those who can objectively measure some aspect of Truth.

I’m going to avoid talking about the current pandemic in this post. But I will liken our many internet discussions to two discussions occurring in my extended family.

The more present example of grossly wrong opinion comes to me from my autistic child, who persistently asserts that I am her brother-in-law, that I and my husband are not her parents, and other bizarre assertions that fly in the face of objective, provable truth. Her memories of past events are often distorted. Sometimes her recollections are so vastly distorted that it strains imagination.

Her perception of current realities can be frustrating. When I encourage her to shower, for example, she’ll almost always challenge me. “How do you know [I need to shower]?!?!?” she will yell at me. The response is often a variation of “Darling, because I can smell/I can see.”

This kind of obtuseness was frustrating enough when she was in grade school. Now that she’s an adult, it is still frustrating.

And yet I love her.

Another example is my relative Riley. 1 After much effort and expense [and after Riley had sent roughly $1.2M to scammers], the family was able to get Riley protected by orders of guardianship and conservatorship. But as is Riley’s right, they are petitioning for these protective orders to be terminated. While Riley has been under conservatorship and guardianship, their health has improved and they assert they have not suffered further losses to scammers. Riley believes this improvement and lack of loss means everything is better. They are willing to incur tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees to free themselves from protection.

This is frustrating. And yet we love Riley.

Though I will not draw the parallels between my two domestic situations and larger concerns about Truth, I hope these parables of my reality will prick any excessive self-confidence you may be nurturing. For an instant, imagine that certain confident pronouncements you make could be as wrong as pronouncements voiced by my child or by Riley.

I submit that a key tenet regarding Truth is that God loves all of us. Or that even if there were no God, we ought still act as though an omniscient, omnipotent being will hold us to account for hateful thoughts and deeds regarding ourselves and others.

I also submit that another key tenet of Truth is that there is one sole truth (albeit complex and multi-faceted). Your opinion about truth has no power to alter that truth. Those who act contrary to objective, known evidence will not have the luxury of being lauded by God or history for their obtuse ignorance.

Now I’m off for a bit of self-reflection regarding which of my cherished convictions are in painful conflict with God’s Truth and which actions are inconsistent with God’s Love…

Notes:

  1. Not their real name.
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About Meg Stout

Meg Stout has been an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ (of Latter-day Saints) for decades. She lives in the DC area with her husband, Bryan, and several daughters. She is an engineer by vocation and a writer by avocation. Meg is the author of Reluctant Polygamist, laying out the possibility that Joseph taught the acceptability of plural marriage but may have privately defied the commandment for love of his wife, Emma.

4 thoughts on “God’s Truth v Our Opinions

  1. The interesting thing is that Truth is complex.

    From the outside, it is obvious what “America” should do. From the inside, it is not as obvious. Because on the inside we are dealing with resistance to change and the myriad systems that are predicated on the status quo.

    There is a book titled The Wizard and the Prophet, which discusses two contemporaries who represented the beginnings of the green movement (the prophet) and the belief that technology could save us (the wizard). I was fascinated to learn of the epic struggle Borlaug (the wizard) had to find a rust-resistant wheat that would grow under all conditions – a triumph that is credited with saving over a billion lives.

    Prior to reading about Borlaug, I would have presumed that what would work in valley A would necessarily also work in valley B. But that is not necessarily true. Even when Borlaug and others developed the amazing short, rust-resistant, Omni-thriving strain, there was another struggle to produce a variant that would be accepted in Indian and Pakistan, where cultural norms are different from the Americas.

    Truth is entirely complex and multi-faceted. And variance from Truth may not be lies. But when one proposes an end state as more desirable, it is worth considering the path folks must travel to get to that end state. Because that is also part of Truth.

  2. “Mastery of Truth is the domain for God.”

    Well said.

    Here, in our mortal life, we are called to learn and live faith, hope, and charity, all centered on Jesus Christ.

    I appreciate all the glimpses of Truth that I am able to see, but I see through a glass darkly. Faith, hope, and charity are what matter now.

  3. But what if God is till learning his own truth? Maybe our species is just the start of many other sentient species?
    God seems pretty wishy, washy from what I see in the scriptures and in other religious groups. Seems like God is still working on figuring it out.

  4. Hi Brandon,

    Nope.

    My husband and I have had this discussion over the years. Since he had never experienced premonitory dreams/visions, he had this probabilistic model for God’s interactions with mankind as individuals and as a group.

    I, on the other hand, have experienced various premonitory phenomena. That and a nickel are worth about five cents, except that it eliminates the idea that God can’t/doesn’t know the end from the beginning.

    I submit that what you see as “God…still working on figuring it out” is driven by the fact that mankind (individuals and as a group) was working on figuring it out, and mankind creates the scriptural record. Even though God knows the end from the beginning, we don’t know what we will do, so God’s interactions with us reflect the fact that our choices are not constrained.

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