Jon Lovett was the White House speech writer who penned those infamous words, “If you like your insurance, you can keep it.” In 2013 Lovett gave a graduation speech at Pitzer College, in which the 30-year-old sage seemed to be warning graduates about people like himself. “One of the greatest threats we face, simply put, is bulls—. We are drowning in it. We are drowning in partisan rhetoric that is just true enough not to be a lie…it infects every facet of public life, corrupting our discourse, wrecking our trust in major institutions, lowering our standards for the truth, and making it harder to achieve anything… Know that being honest, both about what you do know, and what you don’t, can and will pay off. Up until recently I would have said that the only proper response to our culture of B.S. is cynicism, that it would just get worse and worse. But I don’t believe that anymore.”
Could this young man be wondering if speaking the truth is a better way? How would he get out of the deep deceptive fog he lives with, in order to walk in the truth. Truth today is elusive and slippery, having become an object of wordplay. This young man is lacking in the ability to recognize truth when he sees and hears it. I recommend young men like him and others caught in a web of lies to look to Jesus, who tells us: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). Who else could possibly free us from our own deep deception?
When I read this quote I thought of Leanne Payne’s perspective on the crisis of masculinity in our culture and the relationship to the truth. “The crisis of masculinity is a crisis of the unaffirmed masculine and the inability to initiate and stand for the truth. For the power to honor and to stand for the truth is at the heart of the masculine.” Men, we can believe something is true and still be wrong. But truth itself is clear: truth has to do with whatever is real. An affirmed man, speaking truth from a clear mind and heart cuts through a lot of lies and deception.
Before his crucifixion, standing before Pilate, Jesus was asked, “So you are a king?” Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true” (John 18:37). Pilate’s replied to Jesus, “What is truth?” Like a typical politician, Pilate was cynical regarding truth. Truth for Pilate was whatever the majority of people agreed with or whatever helped advance his own personal power and political goals. When there is no standard or acknowledgement of truth, there is no basis for moral right and wrong. Truth becomes whatever we want it to be. Pilate was not able to face reality, when confronted with the truth.
Standing before Pilate that day was the ultimate expression of truth embodied in a person. Jesus came from the father to reveal the truth to us. Jesus and His kingdom are the expression of ultimate reality. “I am the way, the truth and the life,” Jesus proclaimed, “no one comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6). Ultimately truth is a matter of relationship. I assure you men, a committed, whole hearted relationship with Jesus will bring you face to face with the truth about yourself, others and the world. But remember: Jesus is full of grace and truth. Grace helps us live in and with the truth.