The Biblical Value Of Social Truth: Part One

The noted fantasy author Lois McMaster Bujold argued that the difference between honor and reputation rested in the fact that honor was about one’s true character and reputation was what others thought of you. One of the notable aspects of the tragic gulf that can exist between honor and reputation is that the two of them can be very different. It is all too easy for people to have a bad reputation that is unearned as it is for people to have a good reputation that is unearned. Yet it is not as if honor is merely private while reputation is public, making it somewhat short of a true antithesis. Nor is it as if reputation is simply a matter of gossip–it is a matter of truth as well, albeit social truth, or the truth that is believed by others. What is the biblical value of social truth?

In examining this topic, there are a few interrelated concerns of interest here. One concern we might have is the way that people think of others, and how the Bible deals with the sorts of thoughts that other people might have about our conduct. In addition to that, we would do well to look about the way that the Bible handles the difference between honor and reputation, and the extent to which a difference is made between those two things, if any. Similarly, we would do well to examine the distinction, if any, that is made between the appearance and form of evil, and between an objective offense and the subjective feeling of others in being offended, and what if any distance exists between those two things from the Bible itself.

We live in a world where social behavior is often viewed as being far different than the truth that exists about people. The sorry state of journalism and communication in the contemporary world means that an evil report can spread quickly about people without having much or any basis in truth, and so it is that people can believe horrible things about others that are not in any way true but serve as social truth in determining how it is that we conceive people as being worthy of being treated because of what we believe about them. Similarly, there are people who think so little of the obligations that they have to the sensitivities of other people that they go out of the way to offend those sensibilities. A great many people hold their own sensitivities in high regard and demand that others cater to their emotional state but have little or no interest in returning the favor to others, demonstrating a high but by no means uncommon degree of selfishness. Still others consider that the personal relationship between people and God is all that matters and that there are no obligations that we have to other people and to the larger society at all.

When we think of social truths, in other words, we must reflect upon what obligations do other people have on our conduct, what duties do we owe to others, and how is our own behavior shaped by the feelings and thoughts of other people. There is no doubt that in order to be at peace with other people we may frequently have to mortify our own feelings and bite our tongues about a great many things. For others to be at peace with us, they must frequently do the same. This has always been the case–human beings are very different from each other, and things that are mortal offenses to some people are things others casually go about without caring about or noticing in the slightest. In most previous ages, though, it was recognized that the world as a whole had just claims on the behavior of people, and so people mortified their own feelings in order to preserve good relations with others and if they did not enjoy this, they at least accepted this as part of the duties and obligations of life. These obligations do not appear to be felt to a great degree, even as we have demanded much more of others than has previously been the case, with predictable results in the decline of civility and harmony in the outside world as a whole. How is this situation to be repaired?

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Biblical History, History, Musings and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Biblical Value Of Social Truth: Part One

  1. Pingback: The Biblical Value Of Social Truth: Part Two | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: The Biblical Value Of Social Truth: Part Three | Edge Induced Cohesion

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