Like Button

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Right and Real Answers

Have you ever noticed that many times there is a "right answer" and a "real answer" to certain questions? It's interesting to me how often we lead people into a lie by asking these types of questions.

The first example of this that springs to mind is the horrible question wives ask their husbands: "Does this dress make me look fat?" The possible answers are diverse and range from flattering to potentially fatal. But no husband in his right mind would offer a truthful answer if the answer was "yes". That's the "real answer", but it's not the "right answer".

These questions abound. When there is a major connection of a person's feelings to the question, the likelihood of a divergence between "right" and "real" answers increases. A newlywed husband is tasting his young wife's first attempt at meatloaf, and it resembles sawdust. She looks at him with anticipation. "Well?" Will he offer the real answer or will he offer the right answer? You tell your son, "Take out the trash." He may respond with "No way" or "Yes!", but you don't know which is the real answer until he either acts on it or does not.

Our Christian circles also lend themselves to this problem. Ask a friend at church, "Do you know Jesus?" and they really have no choice but to answer in the affirmative. That's the "right answer". The truth may be that they're having doubts. The truth may be that they don't know Jesus very well or maybe not at all. The truth may be that they only know about Him and the truth may even be that they're painfully aware of the difference. But admitting that the truthful answer to the question is "No" would be too difficult. So we ask and receive an answer that we expect and think we've actually received the truth.

We are commanded to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). Somehow we need to learn how to 1) answer with the real answers rather than the expected ones and 2) encourage others to do the same. Perhaps we ought to ask better questions. Perhaps we need to convey love better, wherein we don't condition our love for others on their answers. And whatever else we do, we should keep in mind that sometimes you will get the right answer, and sometimes that's not the real answer.

No comments: