There is a story told about Abraham Lincoln who asked his audience, “How many legs does a dog have if you consider the tail to be a leg?” As you might expect, the crowd’s answer was “five,” to which Lincoln answered, “No, the answer is four. Just because you consider the tail to be a leg doesn’t make it one.”
As we survey the intellectual environment of our day, what we all see is that the intellect no longer is the mechanism that determines what is true. What now determines what we accept as true is the extent to which it feels right for us, whether or not it makes us happy, and aligns with the life-narrative we have chosen as “our truth.”
But it wasn’t always this way. And frankly, it still isn’t how truth is actually discerned. Truth is that which aligns with reality. The problem today is that each individual has become his or her or they or per or ve or xe or … you get the point … expressive self.
The rise and triumph of the expressive self has been facilitated by the tidal wave of “authenticity” that has flooded our society. What do I mean? Just this: We have bought into the myth that individual authenticity starts with what the individual feels rather than what aligns with reality. If I want to think of a tail as a leg then that’s my truth, and you must not only accept it, but also accept and applaud me, as well as the untruth by which I now define myself.
We have descended into the murky swamp of absurdity in which we are all forced by social bullies to either agree or be canceled. We have been channeled into a lane where untruths are to be tolerated as “self-expression” while the opposing factual truth is considered hate speech and “social terrorism.”
After trying to correct his reader’s faulty thinking, the Apostle Paul asks a great question in Galatians 4:16: “Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?” If we answer out of today’s social imagining the clear and resounding answer is, “Yes, you hatred-filled, bigoted extremist! How dare you trample on how I express my authentic self! How dare you refuse to agree to my truth!”
And the manner in which the expressive self chooses to be identified is not the only reality that is being overturned with absurdity. In what world is intentionally ending the life of a fetus “health care?” In what world is a nominee to the Supreme Court unable to define what it is to be a woman? In what world can a biological male identify as a female and garner medals and records in NCAA women’s swimming competitions? And in what world is the biblical teaching on chastity, morality and sexuality branded as hate speech? I’ll tell you what world. Ours. Ours is a world where the rejection of truth as defined by its alignment to reality has led to the rejection and annihilation of those brave enough to say this new expressive self is an Emperor that has no clothes.
Here’s the deal: The vast majority of people I know would say that kidnapping a third-grade girl on her way home from school is wrong. They would also say that bombing a maternity hospital is evil and that napalming babies is horrendous and evil. As well, the vast majority of educated people I know personally would have no problem defining a woman as having two X’s in her 23rd pair of chromosomes while males have an X and a Y in theirs. This means there really is a moral standard that somehow comes pre-installed on the human hard drive. But, alas, we are now watching as our society attempts to deny that standard when it comes to good and evil, truth and falsehood.
But what we all witnessed as Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson deferred, saying she could not define what it means to be a woman, is the effects of our culture of absurdity. Now, I’ve read her resume and I do believe she has not gotten to this place in her career without an exceptional mind, and ability to know and apply the law. My concern here is not political. My concern is that this judge, who will likely sit in the most prestigious legal position in our country, has been muted in the lane of truth because to tell the truth that aligns with reality would cost her the support and applause of those for whom the definition of “woman” is now to be left up to the individual.
I’ll say it. The absurdity which we now embrace as a culture is the real pandemic. You think wearing masks has had a detrimental effect on our school children? Imagine the confusion that is being caused in their minds, hearts and lives by our culture’s rejection of truth in favor of tails being considered legs?
If you are for truth, and if you have a voice, it is time to speak out. Do it winsomely. Do it coherently, and do it helpfully but do it, if not for our sake, for the sake of our children and the world they are about to inherit.
Local resident David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church. “Ethically Speaking” appears Sundays.