Time was that a person would signal that he was going to make some special expression of honesty by introducing it with that phrase. “Well, to tell the truth, I don’t think Democrats mind murdering babies in the womb.”
Maybe its time to bring that expression back. Since so much of what the media tell us is fake news, maybe they should alert us to the rare exceptions by, “Well, to tell the truth, President Trump has done a really great job with the economy.” Such warnings might prevent us from becoming disoriented—save us from whiplash. I don’t think that we would need to worry about the expression being overused.
Actually they are doing something like that on university campuses by giving trigger warnings. These are used to advise students when something offensive is about to be said. Most of the time, this verbal caution tape is wrapped around some expression of an inconvenient truth that does not fit into the fictitious worldview propagated by the university. Maybe for a trigger warning they could just use the old, timeworn expression. “Well, to tell the truth, the suicide rate among transgenders is astronomical.”
Many years ago I read about a missionary working in the jungles of South America who needed to approach one of the tribal people about a sensitive issue. In the book the missionary mentioned that the culture required him to make small talk with this tribal person for half a day before he could approach the subject. It occurred to me at the time that the further the distance of a culture from biblical Christianity, the greater the restrictions imposed on telling the truth.
Since that time America has substantially distanced itself from God, and in response we have witnessed not only placing restrictions on truth-telling but also a total ban on some truths, especially those incompatible with the ideology of the Left.
Increasingly we find content being banned by Facebook, Twitter, and Google, not because it is false, but because it exposes lies of the Left. Any vicious comment aimed at Pres. Trump is okay, but comments exposing truth regarding atrocities committed in the name of Islam are categorized as hate speech. Recently PragerU brought a lawsuit against Google for banning some of its videos, which are factual and not hateful, but are nonetheless “inappropriate” because they tell the truth.
Unfortunately, evangelicals also participate in this ban on truth. The contemporary gospel consists in large measure of telling people that God loves them and invites them to receive His love. This expression of the gospel conveniently omits the judgment of God that He will pour out on those rejecting His Son. It also excludes the many passages in Scripture that speak of the wrath of God toward them now. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” (John 3:36 ESV) I’m not suggesting that we make the gospel unnecessarily offensive, but in an honest presentation of the gospel we might include a statement such as, “Well, to tell the truth, Scripture conveys that God is hostile toward those who reject His Son after He died to pay for their sins.”
Believers are also objects of this evangelical ban on truth-telling. A common contemporary misrepresentation of Scripture resides in the erroneous claim that our “performance” does not in any way influence God’s attitudes or actions toward us. Many verses in Scripture expose that position to be unbiblical. For example, Peter is addressing the “performance” of believers in writing,
“For ‘Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.’” (1 Peter 3:10-12 ESV)
Though it may make us uncomfortable, pastors could enhance the health of the church by asserting, “Well, to tell the truth, God meted out sickness and even death on some in the Corinthian church who failed to show proper regard for the Lord ’s Table.”
This raises the question of how many people will read an article like this. Well, to tell the truth, a post conveying that Christianity is all about grace with no obligation to the Lord or adverse response from Him for sinful living will get a lot more readers. But then again, to tell the truth, that is not the truth.