To Live Freely: Part Four

Living a Lie)

Thus far I have shown an example of those who live in the full light of the truth and are more fulfilled as a result, I have also demonstrated how building our science and technology on physical truths resulted in far greater accomplishments than could be achieved in any other way, and I have also illustrated the chaos that arises by accepting untruth. I have presented each of these as demonstrations of how being founded upon truth brings about greater growth and fulfillment and knowledge than any other course.

There is another way that we can strengthen the argument for living a life founded on truth, and that is by refuting its alternative. Let us consider an opposite philosophy, such as “sometimes a person will flourish more if they believe a lie.” If we can provide evidence that this is false, then that leaves as the only other option that we should live in the truth.

And this philosophy we will seek to discredit is no mere imagined thing. There really is an idea in our society that people will be happier if they don’t have to deal with certain unpleasant realities. It isn’t only suggested that they are better of living in ignorance of a truth, but that they should actively believe something that is opposite to that truth. One example is that a husband shouldn’t tell his wife about an affair, and another is that a child should be led to believe that his parents are biological, when in reality he is adopted.

We will examine both of these, and point out the damage, not comfort, that is inherent in each. Today we will cover the first example, that of whether infidelity should be concealed from a spouse.

The Fall)

The reason typically given for hiding a betrayal of marriage is that it only causes the innocent spouse to feel pain and anguish that she doesn’t deserve, better to let her remain happy with her home and family life. It is the burden of the unfaithful spouse to carry his transgression himself, not hurting those that did nothing wrong themselves. This is his penance.

There is much that is initially appealing in this line of reasoning, but it is extremely condescending to the faithful spouse, and also it sets her upon a treacherous trajectory. By the husband doing one thing, and then allowing his wife to believe that he didn’t, he has rotated her alignment away from reality, and worse, done so without her consent. Falsely aligned, the wife is now put in the awkward position where she might now be the instrument of her own continuing harm. She might willingly take on debt with her husband for a large purchase, such as a new home, only to be hurt financially when he announces his intention to divorce, and the property must be divided. She might unknowingly abet her own betrayal by encouraging a friendly relationship with the very person her husband is sleeping with, or even just by staying at home and watching the children while he goes out for another liaison. She might burn bridges with people that cast aspersions against her husband, even though they are the ones genuinely acting in her favor. She will continue to invest care and warmth in a man who can only offer shallow counterfeits in return, which means wasting more and more of her time and energy. She will lose years that might have been spent with a more faithful partner.

There are numerous ways that a deceived wife is likely to dig the foundation out from under herself, totally oblivious until the ledge she is standing upon suddenly breaks and she falls and hurts herself. When one is first told a lie there is a separation between their reality and true reality. As time continues that gap can only expand. Breaking the ledge and falling from perspective to reality is a painful experience. The higher the drop, the more injury incurred.

Even in the case that the wife never does catch on to the truth, it is still morally wrong to leave someone in danger of that fall, especially when the distance of that potential fall is growing greater with every passing day. Yes, she would be hurt by the truth, but then the wound could heal and there would be no threat of continuing harm. To instead leave the spouse in a place of constant and increasing danger is an act of criminal negligence.

Of course, most of us know that a spouse who decides to shield the other from the truth is almost certainly doing it more out of self-preservation, no matter what noble motivations they might pretend to. Yet even if we were to find a case where the intent really and truly was only to spare the heart of the betrayed spouse, good intentions alone do not make an action moral. One of the key things that makes an action moral is whether it creates good, or at least the potential for good in the life of the other. One of the key things that makes an action immoral is whether it creates evil, or even just the potential for it in the life of the other. In the long term, deception can only foster evil, not good, and so it is immoral.

Bring Your Worst Fears to Reality and be Free: Part Three

I’ll Do it Myself)

At the start of this study, I talked about the lies we tell ourselves about why we cannot reveal the truth to others. Today let’s tear these falsehoods down and see how they keep us a prisoner.

First, let’s consider the idea that “I just need to really try my best and I’ll be able to beat this on my own.” I told myself this story for many years, until finally I had to accept that if I really could take care of my problem by myself, I would have done it by now.

I will always be able to point at my efforts and say that they weren’t good enough to make the desired change, but if I just try harder next time, then it will be enough. There will never be a time where I can’t make that argument, because the only way to prove it wrong is to make the perfect effort and still have it fail. But since I am not perfect, I will never make the perfect effort, so I will never have the empirical proof to discredit the theory.

But at some point, I just had to step back and see that I was running in a hamster wheel. Theories are only as good as the results that you get from them. And if this one has only resulted in me remaining in the same place with no change, then clearly it isn’t a good theory. I had to accept that this wasn’t a philosophy for improvement, it was a philosophy for remaining right in the same place. It was a pernicious sophistry that enabled me to continue my addiction and never get any actual results.

The Shining Knight)

The other reason I had for not telling the truth was the image I was trying to preserve. I felt that I couldn’t let down my wife and kids, my church and neighbors, my friends and coworkers. I knew that bringing forward the truth would send shockwaves through the lives of those that were closest to me, and it would break many of their hearts. I told myself that I didn’t have a right to put these good people through that pain. If I couldn’t save myself, at least I could endure my damnation quietly and let everyone else go unscathed.

Except that I couldn’t do even that! Not all addictions show their destructive effects so obviously, but all of them, without exception, damage lives and relationships. Some do it in sudden, decimating blows, others erode and disintegrate the soul over time, but all of them leave a life that is hollow and broken.

Through great effort I was able to hide the damage and convinced myself and others that we were all doing fine, and I maintained this image for a very, very long time. On the surface I appeared perfectly fine, with everything still held together, but I could not escape the sense of my soul caving in.

I knew that every relationship that appeared happy and fulfilled on the outside was, in fact, predicated upon a lie, and therefore hollow. My wife thought she loved me, my friends thought they respected me, but they didn’t know the genuine me so how could they really? They loved and respected a façade because I hadn’t even given them the chance to decide what they thought of the real me. So, there were no authentic relationships in my life. The ties I was afraid of severing weren’t really there to begin with. All the things I was afraid to lose I’d never even had in the first place.

My Story)

I kept my addiction a secret, and I rationalized doing so by telling myself that I would fix it by myself. I felt that I couldn’t break the “knight in shining armor” image that my family and friends had of me. My plan was to overcome my lust and pornography addiction on my own, and then, many years later, tell my family of my past with the reassurance that at this point in life I really was the person that they had always believed me to be. It was a plan as doomed to failure as it was dismissive of the feelings and autonomy of those around me.

When I was twenty-six, I realized that I had been addicted to lust in some form or another for twenty years, and I had been living a lie in my marriage for over five. At this point, I had to admit that I just wasn’t getting any better on my own. I had tried, I had really, really tried, but it simply was not working, and to continue saying that after twenty years of failure it was now about to start working was insanity.

Nor could I continue to believe that I was preserving relationships by living the lie. Things had been difficult for my wife and I for a while, and I knew the reasons why, but she was confused in the dark. She didn’t know why I was detached and unable to be fully present, she didn’t know why I was struggling to focus at work and had lost my job, she didn’t know why I was so absorbed with my selfish interests and constantly depressed. She didn’t know what the reason behind any of this was, but it was taking its toll on me and her and the relationship even so.

And so, on one particularly strained day, it finally occurred to me that I was destroying the marriage whether I told my wife the truth or not. I wasn’t saving anything by hiding the harmful things I had done; I was just dragging out the destruction in a more torturous manner.

Finally, I didn’t want to do this to my wife anymore, or to myself, or to the marriage. Finally, I accepted that even if telling the truth meant destroying everything in my life it would still be better than what was happening now. At that moment, the greatest kindness I could do to my loved ones would be to stop stringing them along and give them a chance to make what they still could out of the rest of their lives. It was the greatest kindness I could do for myself as well.

So, I confessed. I wrote a letter while my wife was away, admitting to what had been going on behind her back. I left it just inside the entrance of our home, and then I got in my car and drove as far away as I could. I knew I had to get far enough during this rare moment of commitment, so that I wouldn’t be able to turn around and get back to the house and hide the letter before she had already seen it.

And then, just like that, I wasn’t lying anymore. Just like that I was living in the truth. Perhaps it was an ugly truth, but it was the truth. And not one day since have I regretted that decision. The future was made uncertain, my relationships were made tenuous, but I never once questioned whether it was worth it.

As it turned out, after some rocky periods everything stabilized. My wife and I rekindled our marriage, I regained my children’s trust, I kept my new job, and I came back into the good graces of my church. But even if I hadn’t, I can truly and honestly say it would have been a small price to pay for the regaining of my soul.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 29:27-28, 30

27 Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years.

28 And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week: and he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also.

30 And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years.

It was Jacob who originally suggested that seven years was the amount of time that ought to be served for a bride, but Laban wasn’t shy to then prescribe an additional seven years for Jacob to marry the woman he had intended.

It does not seem that Jacob had to wait the full fourteen years before being united to Rachel, though. Verse 28 suggests that Jacob fulfilled the week-long wedding ritual to Leah, after which he immediately married Rachel. Then, with both wives already joined to him, he began the second set of seven years’ service to Laban.

So now he was a husband and presently a father, yet it would still be another 2,500 days before he was clear of his debt and able to work for his own gain. This may not seem like a promising foundation for his household, but Jacob was industrious, and we will soon see how he flourished under these conditions.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 28:6-9

6 When Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob, and sent him away to Padan-aram, to take him a wife from thence; and that as he blessed him he gave him a charge, saying, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan;

7 And that Jacob obeyed his father and his mother, and was gone to Padan-aram;

8 And Esau seeing that the daughters of Canaan pleased not Isaac his father;

9 Then went Esau unto Ishmael, and took unto the wives which he had Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife.

Esau witnessed the blessing and charge that Isaac gave to Jacob, and he realized how his own marriage choices had distressed his parents. He therefore married his cousin Mahalath, daughter of Ishmael, Isaac’s brother.

But Esau’s motivation here was to appease his parents. Not an evil desire, of course, but hardly the best reason for following commandments. Esau’s chief concern was not obedience to God or to overcome his base impulses, but to find a quick solution to return himself to the good graces of other people.

But then, that is most often the case with each of us. Most of us try to do good things to appease some worldly influence, and then get frustrated that we can’t keep up that game for long. If we want to change, to truly change, it has to be founded in something more real.

Leading to Water- Genesis 29:9-11, 18, 20

And while he yet spake with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep: for she kept them.
And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, that Jacob went near, and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother.
And Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept.
And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter.
And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.


When Jacob saw Rachel, Jacob went near, and kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept
And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve seven years for Rachel
With yesterday’s passage we read Jacob’s plea to “come again to my father’s house in peace.” At the time, all he wanted was to go back home to exactly what he had before. But at that point he had not yet met Rachel. For as soon as he did meet her he stopped speaking of a hasty return to his father and instead committed to seven years of labor in a strange land so that he could marry her!
And when that dowry was doubled to fourteen years he prolonged his absence from home without hesitation! In fact, Jacob’s relationship to his childhood home becomes so unimportant that his story doesn’t recount anything more of it until he and Esau are burying their father after his passing (Genesis 35:29).

And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her
Jacob had a love of his own now. And through that love he found a new vocation and a new home. While his father and grandfather had been well-diggers, he became an accomplished herdsman. While his father and grandfather set their roots in Canaan, Jacob took an extended leave of absence to Padan-Aram. In short, Jacob had become his own person. It was a hard thing for him to leave the nest, but truly it led him to spread his wings.

Influence and Persuasion- Personal Example #1

Previously I spoke of the contention that arises when two egos strive together, versus the unity that arises when two hearts do. And I actually experienced a recent example of both sides of this.

The most difficult disagreements to navigate are the ones where each side feels a moral conviction. It is very easy to entangle pride and ego with your personal sense of right and wrong, and to feel insistent that your way is objectively correct.

The example I saw of this recently was when my wife and I were discussing the question of tithing. We’ve always subscribed to that practice, but there is definitely some room for interpretation within that law. Does that ten percent come before or after taxes? Does it come before or after benefits? If you realized you forgot to tithe a previous sum do you go back and cover that, or do you just let it go?

And generally I would say “do what your conscience tells you, and don’t worry if it is slightly different from someone else. So long as you are sincere in trying to follow the law, God will approve.”

And if my wife and I had separate incomes, I could tithe mine in the way that made sense to me, and she could tithe hers how it made sense to her. But we share an income, and when we received a sum that fell into that tithing-gray-area we each felt “right” about a different course of action to take.

And for the first while, each of us tried to convince the other of why we were right, and each of us felt a little ruffled about that. It did not become a very hostile situation, but there was definitely some friction in the moment. It was easy for each of us to feel unheard and judged.

Ego against ego. There was never going to be a mutual outcome from this.

Eventually we took a different approach, though. Instead of trying to “solve the problem,” we backed away and spoke about our stung feelings. We admitted to pride and frustration, to feeling unimportant and unprioritized.

We bypassed ego, and started taking heart-to-heart and spirit-to-spirit.

And then we didn’t feel like we were on two sides anymore, we felt like we were on one side together. It wasn’t important to me that we use my solution anymore, and it wasn’t important to her that we use hers. Neither of us had to be the one that won. Now, at last, we could kneel down together and ask God what to do about the matter.

And each of us came out of that prayer with a shared feeling, a warm assurance about the right thing to do.

And it wasn’t what either of us had been recommending. It wasn’t “my way” or “her way.” Nor would I say it was a compromise between our two extremes. It really felt like a third choice. A shared choice. Shared between me and she and He.

Knit Our Hearts- Amos 3:3, Genesis 2:24

Can two walk together, except they be agreed?

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.


Can two walk together, except they be agreed?
I’ve already mentioned that an essential element to building a companionship is sharing a cause. When two agree on a principle, then they can agree on an action, then they can walk together. Not only do they achieve the fruit of their labor, they also sow a relationship with each other in the process.
Sometimes finding that shared principle takes some work, but I am convinced every two individuals can find one. We all come from the same divine source, after all, we are more alike than different.
Perhaps one brother could be your companion in community service, while another sister could be your companion in wholesome creation, and yet a third could be the one you are accountable to in your repentance.
Not any one person is meant to be all things to us, but all are meant to be something.

Therefore shall a man…cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh
I would be remiss to do a study on mortal companionships and not make note of its most significant form: the marriage covenant between husband and wife.
In every other relationship we can have brotherhood, sisterhood, and friendship. We can unite our strengths, and we can mutually improve one another. And of course, husband and wife should also have this same standard of brotherhood and sisterhood, and also of being friends.
But to that base marriage adds something more. It is the union of the two distinct halves of humanity. One male, the other female, each essential to creating the one. Masculinity perfecting the feminine, and femininity perfecting the masculine. The two find completion in one another and discover God within their oneness. A union so consummate that God has reserved to it the very creation of life.