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Conformity vs Truth

 Editor    Oct 12 : 23:36
 None    Editorials

We cannot allow ourselves to be taken captive by the thinking of this world, which chooses conformity over truth.

To conform is not the Christian way.I remember a conversation that took place one evening between two brothers in the church, one of whom was attending a CR group at the time. The first man took issue with a statement made by the second to the effect that "all addicts were liars." It seemed that from his perspective a blanket statement of this sort labeling all who struggle with addiction, was unfair and judgemental. The second brother endeavored to explain that his opinion in great part was based on his own past experience as a drug abuser, but to no avail.  And after several minutes of back and forth debate the matter was eventually dropped, leaving me to wonder which of the two opinions best served the christian cause.

Later in pondering this question I came across the apostle Paul's letter to Titus and was suprised indeed to read what Paul had said almost two thousand years earlier. In quoting Epimenides a Cretan philosopher who centuries earlier had described the people of Crete as being always liars, evil brutes and lazy gluttons Paul agreed with this assertion by stating that his testimony was true. How could this be? Paul couldn't possibly have based his opinion upon an intimate knowledge of every cretan resident. And yet he routinely dispensed judgement upon them in much the same way the brother just days earlier had offended some with his description of the addicted as always being liars.
After a little research I discovered that  Epimenides' description of ancient Crete appeared in other accounts spanning the centuries leading up to Pauls letter to Titus. Infact so infamous were the people of Crete for amongst other things being crooks, con men and decievers that a verb to describe their kind of behavior began being used in the Greek language "kretizo" which means to act like a Cretan. Paul would undoubtedly have experienced first hand this very same kind of behavior from his own personal interactions with Cretans.
In getting back to the assertion that "all addicts are liars" I now had to consider not only the veracity of the statement but also the source from which it came. If an authority were to be found on such a subject he would almost certainly benefit from the unique perspective that only one having experienced the ravages of addiction himself might possess.
Even more important perhaps and contrary to our pop culture is the idea that it's not morally wrong to judge the actions or behavior of a particular group or segment in society where  overwhelming evidence to confirm such a generalization might exist. Case in point,  family members, friends and co- workers have notoriously complained to the counselling community about not only the havoc wrought on their relationships by the activity of their addicted loved ones, but also the deep wounds caused by the habitual deception that accompanies such activity. Accordingly, friends of the addicted might easily be labeled as being prejudiced and judgemental in their opinions of the addicted. Were it not ofcourse for their indisputable experiences in the matter.
Finally it's worth noting, that when describing the people of Crete Paul showed little concern for the possibility of offending or mischaracterizing the innocent. On the contrary. In context, his primary concern would seem to have been in confronting the ongoing wicked behavior that was clearly no secret to the people of that time. For some, his straight forward condemnation of an entire population will only grate against their misplaced politically correct sensibilities. This will be to their loss.
We cannot allow ourselves to be taken captive by the thinking of this world, which chooses conformity over truth.

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