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Pete Enns & The Bible for Normal People

Episode 138: How Love Changes the Meaning of the Bible

In this episode of The Bible for Normal People Podcast, Pete and Jared talk about Jared’s new book, Love Matters More as they explore the following questions:

  • Where do we get the idea that Christians are to “speak the truth in love”?
  • What are the boundaries of speaking the truth?
  • Do we need to be in love with someone to speak truth to them?
  • Is it always necessary to speak our minds when we feel like we need to stand up for truth?
  • How does the Bible use the word “true”?
  • What is a fuller translation for how “truth” in translated in our English Bibles?
  • Does the truth set us free or is freedom something that comes from truth?
  • What’s the difference between truth and opinion?
  • How do we avoid the dichotomy of evil v.s. ignorance?
  • What does love mean?
  • Does the meaning of love change over time and the shifting of cultures?
  • How does “truth” and power often go hand in hand?

Tweetables

Pithy, shareable, less-than-280-character statements from Pete and Jared you can share. 

  • “What if we talked about telling the truth in love in the sense of are you in love with the person that you’re giving your opinion to?” @jbyas
  • “True freedom isn’t being reigned in and not being able to just think anything that you want to.” @peteenns
  • “Love matters more than your belief.” @jbyas
  • “I think we treat people like children rather than respecting them as humans who can make their own decisions.” @jbyas
  • “We conflate truth with my opinion, and it’s too dangerous for me to use that word because my ego wants to always think that my opinion is the truth.” @jbyas
  • “Who are we to think that we’re the ones responsible to steward the truth of the universe?” @jbyas
  • “Maybe the idea of loving and speaking the truth in love has to take into account that we’re not living in biblical times.” @peteenns

Mentioned in This Episode

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Read the transcript

[Introduction]

0:00

Pete: You’re listening to The Bible for Normal People. The only God-ordained podcast on the internet. I’m Pete Enns.

Jared: And I’m Jared Byas.

[Jaunty intro music]

Pete: All right folks, welcome to another episode of The Bible for Normal People, we have today a very special guest.

[Chuckles]

Jared: Very.

Pete: You have no idea. No, this is –

Jared: Don’t say no!

Pete: This is all about Jared. This is all about –

Jared: Don’t say no, you said special guest. Don’t say no.

Pete: No, I don’t mean special. It’s just Jared.

Jared: [Laughter]

Pete: But yeah, Jared’s the center of attention again here for this podcast.

Jared: For the first time.

Pete: Yeah. Always the center of attention, Jared. Anyway, so yeah, Jared wrote a book. The book is called Love Matters More: How Fighting to Be Right Keeps Us from Loving Like Jesus, which sounds like the kind of title everyone would agree with, but that’s probably not going to be the case and we’ll get into all that kind of stuff, perhaps. It’s not a combative book, but it’s still, well, you say God or Jesus or Bible or anything in the same sentence –

Jared: It’s combative.

Pete: And somebody is going to be after you.

Jared: Right, right. Well, and it came from, really wrestling with this phrase, which I’m sure a lot of you have heard in your lifetime, which is telling the truth in love, speaking the truth in love, which comes from Paul in Ephesians. And, you know, in the book I go through the context of that and I think it’s interesting what it, what the context reveals about what Paul is really after in that passage and how it’s been ripped from the context and talked about as, I would just say, in my life when that’s been said to me it often felt like a weapon.

Pete: Okay. Well, can you flesh that out a little bit more? Like, what is he not saying, what is he saying there in Ephesians?

Jared: Well, if you look, and you know I published it with Zondervan so I’m using the NIV translation, and if you look at the header, it’s about unity. And so, it’s so ironic how this verse has been used to divide people for so long and it’s in this context of this passage that’s about unity and how we grow up into Christ, who’s head of all and how we have, basically, the more this whole process lead me to believe that Paul was after unity a lot more than anything else. He talks about it again and again and again in this passage as well. So, the truth is always in service to something else. In other passages in 1 Corinthians 13, the famous passage, it’s in service to love –

Pete: Right.

Jared: And here, it’s in service to unity. So, it’s always the tool; it’s never the goal.

Pete: Right, because that just struck me that, you know, I gotta speak the truth in love to you! Which basically means, I betcha not a lot of love is gonna be coming down the pike. It’s more like speaking the truth and then demolishing you. I am loving you, right?

Jared: Right.

Pete: I am loving you as best, I’m loving you the way Jesus wants me to love you by smashing you because you’re wrong –

Jared: Yeah.

Pete: And I need to speak the truth in love.

Jared: Yeah, it’s almost as though the truth telling is somehow love in disguise.

Pete: Yes. Oooooooh.

Jared: And that’s what we mean by love is when I tell you the truth.

Pete: Yeah.

Jared: But that’s just not how the Bible presents love and that’s not how everyday people understand what love is.

Pete: Yeah, so that passage is not sort of a license to just go off on people.

Jared: Right.

Pete: Right, it’s actually the opposite to create unity like you’re saying.

Jared: Right, yeah, it’s to create unity and in that context, there are these other things that we’re to do in this, you know, and its more behavioral things: being kind to one another, being compassionate, giving each other the benefit of the doubt. Like, these are the things that we should be focusing on and instead, we draw out this thing that we really want to do, which is just tell people our opinion, call it the truth, and then say we’re being loving. It’s a get out of jail free card.

Pete: Yes, exactly. It’s like Galatians, you know, Paul’s letters. Paul is really angry in Galatians and that sometimes uses it as an excuse for people to, I’m just going to be leaning into you because you’re wrong doctrinally and I’m going to smash you. Hey, that’s what Paul did. But Paul was really after unity even there, and I think that’s a really good point.

Jared: Yeah.

Pete: He’s into unity.

Jared: Well, what it did for me was I really like language and I like that, you know, the Bible allows for these multiple interpretations. And so, one of the things I kept thinking of was like you said, the emphasis tended, in my life, to always fall on the truth.

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: Telling the truth … in love. Like, that was always the afterthought.

Pete: Yeah.

[Light laughter]

Jared: But what if we talked about telling the truth in love in the sense of are you in love with the person –

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: That you’re giving your opinion to.

Pete: Okay.

Jared: And if not, then, that’s not legitimate. Like, the truth that’s coming out of your mouth isn’t actually true.

Pete: So, love matters more than speaking –

Jared: Your opinion.

Pete: Your opinion in sort of a loveless context, just like I have to get the truth out there.

Jared: Right.

Pete: “I just tell it like I see it.”

Jared: Yeah. Exactly.

Pete: “I just gotta say it.”

Jared: Yeah.

Pete: Right, okay.

Jared: Yeah, and love isn’t –

Pete: You just ruined most Christians lives by that.

Jared: I hope so.

Pete: Yeah.

[Laughter]

That’s the goal.

Jared: I hope so.

Pete: [Laughter]

Jared: Yeah, and you know, and it’s also taking a look at what we mean when we say doing something in love. Like, we think we can be kind of jackasses to people and then just say something in a kind way and somehow that’s going to be what it means to love someone.

4:59

Pete: Or like passive aggressive.

Jared: Yeah. In the South, right, the phrase is like “bless your heart.”

Pete: Bless your heart, yeah.

Jared: So, that gives us kind of like, you know, kindness or nice ways of talking covers over a multitude of sins.

Pete: Yeah, or “I’m praying for you.”

Jared: [Laughter]

Pete: “Brother.”

[Laughter]

Jared: Mm hmm. Yeah, those prayer groups where it’s really a gossip chain.

Pete: Yeah, this went up the prayer chain real fast.

Jared: And can you pray for my daughter? And I just go on and tell you all the reasons that I’m ashamed and embarrassed of her? Yeah.

Pete: [Continued laughter]

Oh, okay. So, Love Matters More, and now we’re talking about speaking the truth in love. So, I mean, I know Pilate says this too, but I’m going to say it. What is truth? Like, what does that mean, because that means different things to different people and it’s not one of these concepts, like, easy to define, it’s really sort of a little bit, it’s at least multivalent, not really slippery, but it’s multidimensional, it can mean different things in different contexts and yeah. I think that may cause some of the problems here, so.

Jared: Yeah. I think that it’s important to recognize, you know, this is actually a surprise for me. I wasn’t looking for this when I started writing the book, but I went through and tried to track how does the Bible actually use the word truth.

Pete: How does the Bible actually work?

Jared: Right.

Pete: [Laughter]

Jared: [Laughter]

Pete: No, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. That’s my book.

Jared: Who’s the center of attention now?

Pete: I lasted five minutes, so I think I did pretty well. No, tell us more about your book Jared, go ahead.

Jared: Yeah, so if we look at how the Bible actually uses the word “true,” we might be surprised that it doesn’t mean like, a mental ascent to the accurate representation of reality. That’s not actually how the Bible talks about it. So, the most common use when we, when the Bible translates in English, the word “true” is actually used to function more like faithfulness or trustworthiness. So, if you say, you know, my heart is true that’s kind of that idea of this faithfulness or trustworthiness. So, even the first use of the word truth in the Bible says, “then the man bowed down and worshipped the Lord, saying, ‘praise be to the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned his kindness and faithfulness to my master. As for me, the Lord hath led me on the journey to the house of my master’s relatives.’” It’s in Genesis 24 and they didn’t even translate it as truth there, but that’s the word most commonly translated “truth” as well.

Pete: Right.

Jared: So, it’s trustworthiness and faithfulness, it’s, you know, being, having fair and accurate testimony in the legal sense of giving that sense there, which is kind of like truth. And then, it’s also ethical behavior when someone is behaving true. So, in Proverbs 8 it says, “my mouth speaks what is true.” Now, do we mean something accurate? No. The second says, “for my lips detest wickedness.” So, there’s an ethical, relational dimension to truth built in, it’s baked into the idea of truth that those words in the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: So, the idea that truth is accurately representing reality is a very modern notion.

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: It really doesn’t show up in the Bible at all, but that tends to be what we focus on. So, when I say I’m telling the truth in love, it’s not that I’m trustworthy, that you can trust me, that I’m not lying to you; it’s that I have the correct and accurate views of God in my brain, and that’s what I need to tell you, in love.

Pete: And it’s a loving thing to tell you that by any means necessary, including putting you on the rack and stretching you.

Jared: Right, exactly.

Pete: Right, yeah. Right.

Jared: Emotionally, or literally in the history of Christianity.

Pete: So, truth is really, not to overstate, is it ethical? I mean, it means different things, but there is a serious ethical component in the Bible that deals with how you treat people and being a trustworthy person.

Jared: Yeah, it’s much more ethical and relational than it is mental.

Pete: So, I wonder, I mean, Jesus says the truth will set you free. What do you think that means?

Jared: Well, that’s an interesting that you say that, because I gave a lot of thought to that. Partly because, you know, my daughter’s name is Elletheia.

Pete: Uh huh.

Jared: And we named her that from that verse, which is in John 8.

Pete: Which is a Greek word for –

Jared: Well, we spell it with an “e” because the word in that in Greek for truth is aletheia with an “a,” but the Greek word for freedom is eleutheria.

Pete: Oh, okay.

Jared: So, we combined truth and freedom –

Pete: Oh cool, yeah.

Jared: Into Elletheia. And that was another one of those, where I began to –

Pete: Only you would do that, Jared. Pretty convinced.

Jared: I know. So nerdy.

Pete: That’s like, that’s even beyond what homeschooling parents do normally.

Jared: [Laughter]

Pete: It’s not Jehoshaphat, it’s just, let’s look at the Greek. Okay.

9:45

Jared: But it’s one of those verses that I was able to flip in my head and I finally got excited about it again because I grew up thinking you shall know the truth and if you have this mental idea of what God is actually like, you’re going to find some freedom. But the problem is, it didn’t work that way for me. Like, the more I attempted to get accurate views of God, the more I felt trapped and I was in a community where they were just policing our beliefs all the time. So, I started to think, well no, maybe Jesus is giving us a litmus test for what is true.

Pete: Ah.

Jared: You shall know the truth, and it will set you free. So, if it’s not setting you free, that’s not the truth.

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: So, what if we flipped it on its head and started saying, does this give me freedom? Does this liberate? If not, I can discount it as not true because Jesus said, “you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” So, being able to flip that on its head gave me a lot of freedom and a lot, it just, it started exciting me again rather than constricting like, okay, in order to find freedom, we have to go search for this truth, which is an accurate view of who God is. So, you have to contain the creator of the universe and all God’s mystery, and when you get that, you’ll find freedom. Well, that is an oppressive task.

Pete: So, it is like freedom to explore and maybe to be humble about what you don’t know? Is that a fleeting thing, or, I’m still getting sort of hung up because I’ve heard this a million times, right? So, I’m still getting hung up on “the truth.” Every corner of theology or is it more like, a relational thing, knowing God or knowing Jesus or something like that?

Jared: Well again, if you look at how does the Bible use that word, aletheia, truth, it’s not often, sort of getting things right. It is this ethical relational being, a trustworthy person, you know, having these, it’s more of a wisdom word than a mathematical word.

Pete: Hmm. Okay.

Jared: And so, you know, I think that’s true, when we find wisdom, we find freedom. And I think that’s more of the sense in which, I would argue, that Jesus is after.

Pete: It sounds very experiential.

Jared: Yes.

Pete: Right? So, yeah, I mean, I’m just, I’m trying to think of like in my own way, just thinking about how, what are those times where, you know, we felt free?

Jared: Mm hmm.

Pete: In other words, where theology is not an oppressive force that makes us lose our sleep and you might be wrong about something –

Jared: Right.

Pete: But in this sense of freedom, which I would say, I mean, to use the common Christian language, is feeling like you’re in God’s presence, sort of accepted as you are in this freedom.

Jared: Mm hmm.

Pete: But I can hear, that, to me, I live, I try to live that way, but, I can hear the other side saying, “so it doesn’t matter what you believe?”

Jared: Mm hmm.

Pete: [Laughter]

“It’s just whatever? It’s just whatever sets you freeeee? That’s just what Satan said in the garden.”

Jared: [Laughter]

Pete: You know, that kind of thing. “That’s what Hitler would say,” you know, that kind of thing.

Jared: Yeah.


Pete: So, I mean, how might you respond in love to somebody who feels that way, like, no this has to be, this has to reign us in. True freedom isn’t being reigned in and not being able to just think anything that you want to.

Jared: Right, well, first of all, that just seems so counter, it sounds a bit nonsensical to me.

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: Like, no, true freedom is in surrender. Like, true freedom is in being a slave, but just being a slave to God. Like, that’s true freedom. To those people, I just, I really don’t know what you mean.

Pete: Yeah.

Jared: I’m not exactly sure what that means.

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: But if it’s, no, you can’t just have these, I talk about it in the book, like, oh, so does that mean we can mean whatever? We can make things mean whatever we want them to mean? And I don’t think that’s the case, it’s more thinking about why do we privilege getting accurate thoughts in our brain over how we relate to other human beings in the world?

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: I want to question that assumption. Why is that more important? Why is it more important that my son, who’s gay, know that God thinks that’s, God thinks that’s a wrong action and a sinful behavior? Why is that more important than me connecting and living and accepting my son as he is?

Pete: Yeah, because, of course I track with you. But I think, again, we both heard this many times before because the thing is, well, you’re, you don’t want to go to hell, do you?

Jared: Mm hmm.

Pete: Not to get off topic here, but that’s, sometimes that’s behind it, right? After you die, if you’re wrong about, if you don’t have “the truth” defined as, let’s say a non-experiential abstraction of concepts of propositions –

Jared: The test model where you’re going to take a test of what you believe and if you pass the test, you get into heaven.

14:48

Pete: That’s a lot of pressure! What if you have text anxiety –

Jared: [Laughter]

Pete: And you just can’t get it?

Jared: But God! I know it all! I just can’t take tests!

Pete: I just can’t take tests. And the thing is, I mean, I say that jokingly, but I teach college students and there are plenty of students who have legitimate text anxiety and they just don’t, they can’t perform well in those kinds of settings, so.

Jared: Mm hmm.

Pete: That’s a very western model, I guess, too. It’s not like a modern, western, scientific, post-enlightenment kind of blah blah blah thing.

Jared: Well yeah. Yeah, and I think that’s what I’m really going after is the very notion that we privilege that over how we interact everyday with other human beings in loving relationships. Love matters more. Love matters more than your belief. And the other thing too, and I talk about this quite a bit, is, I think we do a disservice for some reason, and in some areas of our life in certain traditions, we think of love as, you know, you just mentioned going to hell. So, I get that some people have told me, well, if you were about to, wouldn’t it be loving that if someone you cared about was about to take poison, you would go to them and tell them, “hey! You’re about to drink poison. You’re going to die!” To which I would say, yes, if they’re a child and they don’t know any better, then yes. Sure! But we treat adults like children, and I think that’s unloving and disrespectful and doesn’t take into account that we are dynamic people who grow and learn and develop. But I think certain traditions are very static. So, if it’s right for a six-year-old to treat them that way, it’s right for a twenty-year-old. And frankly, I grew up in that tradition, right? So, you can’t watch rated “R” movies, like, ever? Well no, if, yeah, I guess. If I’m telling you as a seven-year-old you shouldn’t watch a rated “R” movie, then I guess I shouldn’t either as an adult.

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: It doesn’t have the nuance of understanding that people change and develop. So, yes. If you want to keep the child from drinking poison, that’s a loving thing to do. But if I’m going to go to my twenty-five-year-old who’s an adult and keep slapping beer out of their hand and tell them it’s poison even though they’ve had it many times before and they’ve lived, and they’re sane human beings who can take care of themselves, I’m not loving them because I’m disrespecting them as adults who can make their own choices.

Pete: Yeah.

Jared: So, that would be my argument for that is I think we treat people like children rather than respecting them as humans who can make their own decisions.

Pete: Right. And in doing so, we keep adults as children –

Jared: Right!

Pete: In a sense, right? So, everybody has to keep down to that same seven-year-old kind of level, which, I tell this story many times, but Jon Levinson, you know, we’ve had on the podcast, he talks about how adults have an adult view of basically any topic, any field. Math, history, economics, you know, how to do laundry, you know, anything. Except when it comes to religion, you’re still seven, and there’s something wrong about that. And that’s what, you know, love, you know, speaking the truth in love, again, that’s such a little mamby pamby verse, but, until you start reading it and taking it seriously, it can actually rock your world and turn, begin making you question some of those theological certainties that we’re told we have to hold onto at all costs, because if you respect people as people who are in process of becoming, which is basically everybody…

Jared: Right.

Pete: [Laughter]

Jared: Right.

Pete: I know a few people who this is not true for, but for the most part, you know, it’s like, people are truly in a, everyone is on this journey, so maybe to love people means to respect the journey that they’re on and truth and love are really become two sides of the same coin.

Jared: Exactly, exactly.

Pete: Which is a hard way to live. It’s much easier, as you know, to sort of be an apologist for the truth and just to slam people with it.

Jared: Right, yeah.

Pete: Which is one reason I think apologetics like that doesn’t really work.

Jared: Right.

Pete: Because it just appeals to one small compartment of our heads which changes as we evolve as human beings, and then the loving context of community is gone, so.

Jared: Yeah, and not to argue with Paul, but if I’m going to try to, in my mind, if I’m going to accurately represent what I think Paul is trying to get across. If I’m translating Paul and updating Paul for today, I wouldn’t even actually like the idea that we can tell the truth in love. I would rather say you can give people your opinions in love. Because what happens is we conflate truth with my opinion, and it’s too dangerous for me to use that word because my ego wants to always think that my opinion is the truth.

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: So, I’d rather get in the habit of just calling it what it is, which is my opinion, which may or may not be true at any time about any topic.

Pete: Or my truth, as many people say. Same idea, right?

Jared: Yeah, yeah. It can be my truth, but then we’re relativists, so I try to avoid that. So, I’d rather just say opinion –

Pete: The truth as I see it.

Jared: Right. The truth as I see it, exactly.

Pete: Because I’ve experienced it.

19:42

Jared: Yeah, yeah. So, that keeps that barrier of humility to say, because that’s what happens, is people get so enraged or upset because for them, it’s so obvious that it is the truth, and so, if you don’t agree with me, if you don’t see it my way, you’re in error.

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: And there’s really only two ways that you can be in error, either willfully or unwilfully. In one, you’re evil, and the other, you’re ignorant.

Pete: [Light laughter]

Jared: So, I talk about avoiding this dichotomy between ignorance and evil, which is how we often talk to people. If I already assume that what I’m saying is true, and you’re disagreeing with me, there’s really only two options.

Pete: So, internet.

[Laughter]

Jared: You’re –

[Laughter]

That’s right, yeah.

Exhibit A.

Pete: [Continued laughter]

Jared: Anything that starts with “www.” But that’s, you know, you can’t escape that logic really, that’s how we operate. Well, if I’m true, then the truth is obvious to me, then if you disagree with me it’s either you’re so dumb you don’t get what is obvious in which case you’re ignorant and you’re a fool or you see that it’s obvious but you’re willfully disobeying the truth and you’re evil. So, when I’m interacting with you by standing on, I always have the truth, I’m already setting up an economy or a situation in which you have to be evil or ignorant to disagree with me.

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: That is not a very communal, relational, loving way to approach a dialogue. 

Pete: But so much is at stake, Jared, with being right. Isn’t it? I mean, that’s, again part of the whole –

Jared: No.

Pete: I know. But that’s sort of the whole –

Jared: But again –

Pete: Wittingly or unwittingly, that’s what we’ve been sort of sold. That’s been marketed to us that the truth is what matters, everything else is second place.

Jared: But how oppressive is that to think that it’s your responsibility?

Pete: For some people it’s not oppressive at all, right, because they know they have it.

Jared: Right.

Pete: Right? But you get to a point where something happens in your life, so it’s like, oooookay. Maybe I don’t really know what I thought I knew.

Jared: Who are we to think that we’re the ones responsible to steward the truth of the universe? Like, why do we take responsibility for that? Like, I’m not resp… It’s baked into evangelicalism; I think it’s the sense of guilt. And I mean evangelicalism in the broadest sense of evangelizing, right? That’s how we motivate people to evangelize is we make it your responsibility to save people’s eternal souls.

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: That, I reject.

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: One, that gives us too much power, but the flip side of power is responsibility, as Uncle Ben has told us. So, if we have this responsibility, then, like, I don’t understand how that doesn’t become, either like you said, we know we’re right, in which case it becomes too much power.

Pete: Mmm.

Jared: Or we have cracks in our foundations, and it becomes too much responsibility. Neither one of those seem healthy to me.

Pete: Yeah.

Jared: And it’s all to prop up this machine of selling a product.

Pete: And some of the, I mean, getting into the Bible a little bit, some of the problem comes from the use of certain verses like, you know, speaking the truth in love or bringing the Gospel to the ends of the earth, for example.

Jared: Mm hmm.

Pete: And Gospel is defined as –

Jared: Thinking true thoughts about God.

Pete: Yeah. And, you know, getting into themes that we’ve talked about in this podcast, because this fits right into that, is, how do I put this, how loving is it to use Bible verses against people that may have meant perfect sense in a particularly small environment of a couple thousand years ago and not in the world that we live in today. And I know, I just want to caution people when I put it that way, it’s like, “oh, like, we’re so far advanced.” It’s not advanced, we’re just different. You know, our world is not limited to the Mediterranean world for the most part. Like, you know, Paul didn’t care about Canada. Who cares about Canada? I’m just kidding. It wasn’t like, that was not really part of the mindset, so, you know, for example, taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth as the book of Acts begins. That actually happens at the end of the book of Acts, because it got to Rome. That was the ends of the earth. That’s the mentality, like, mission accomplished. That doesn’t mean it can’t go elsewhere, but, you know, we privilege the Pauline paradigm of going and debating and going to synagogues and convincing people and this and that or whatever, and you know, maybe part of loving the people around us is realizing we just live in a more cosmopolitan existence now. We’re, you know, we have people all over the world at our fingertips at any moment, and it’s hard to think of a relatively small patch of land, so to speak, as being the center and hub of everything that means anything. And, you know, I guess, my point is that I think that maybe the idea of loving and speaking the truth in love has to take into account that we’re not living in biblical times.

24:54

And I say that as somebody who loves the Bible, studies it, teaches it, keeps teaching it, but also realizes there’s a distance between this story and who we are now and how we’re living now. So, that question, speaking the truth in love, that’s maybe something we have to keep settling for ourselves again and again and again and again. That’s not just one meaning in the Bible someplace.

Jared: Yeah, and that’s why I like the idea of love. It’s because it’s a concept that actually evolves with culture.

Pete: Hmm.

Jared: It is, it’s one of those things that reminds me of the horizon. It’s always out in front of us, but every time we get a little closer, it changes because our knowledge of what’s, you know, thinking about the fact that a few generations ago what parents gave their kids to be healthy because they loved them, when in fact, they were kind of, you know, setting up for diabetes or heart disease –

Pete: Captain Crunch with Crunch Berries.

Jared: Exactly.

Pete: Part of a nutritious breakfast.

Jared: Yeah. You know, we didn’t know any better! And again, not to be, to use C.S. Lewis’s term, not to be chronological snobs –

Pete: Yeah.

Jared: That we’re better somehow or anything, but it just goes to show that our, we can only love insofar as we have information and knowledge and those, that’s all changing too.

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: I mean, truth is changing and developing. So, I like the idea that truth is still something we pursue. Can we all agree that what we’re pursuing is love? That love matters more. Now, all it does is set up the next question is what does love mean?

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: How do we do that? And I think that’s the worthier question. I think that’s the worthier dialogue and pursuit. I don’t have the answer to that.

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: But I think it’s a better question than what’s true. That’s a less interesting, less powerful, and less important to me question the older I get. And the corollary to that is what do you believe. I’m less interested in that question too because it’s directly tied to that question of what’s true and by that we mean let’s get a handle on the objective reality that is the universe because we don’t like not knowing, we like to be in control of things. And that’s just not an interesting question to me.

[Music begins]

Jared: Stay tuned for more Bible for Normal People.

[Producer’s group endorsement]

[Music ends]

Pete: Yeah. The more we look at the universe, the more objective reality becomes a real question. Not to get into all that, but we had a podcast recently with Ilia Delio that’s pretty dern interesting.


Jared: Yeah, I mean, the further you go down that rabbit hole, you realize the objectivity of it all starts to come unraveled.

Pete: Right. Well, it’s all relative. Well, maybe there is a relativity about it, not an Einstein relativity.

Jared: [Laughter]

Einstein had something to say about that.

Pete: Because we’re humans, maybe there is a relativity to this. Maybe there’s a context to everything.

Jared: Well, it’s a limitation. And I think that’s that humility –

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: Is understanding there is a barrier, a filter, between how the world actually is and how I perceive it. And the more, that’s scary. I think people don’t like to acknowledge that because it feels a little bit like walking around in the room with the lights off and you’re going to bump up against things, and you’re not going to know what things are, but just because it’s scary doesn’t mean it’s not accurate.

Pete: Right.

Jared: And I think the history of thought, both science and philosophy and these over the last few hundred years have come to the understanding of, oh, crap, I think we’re in a big room with the lights off.

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: Just because we don’t like it doesn’t mean we get to ignore that and just keep, you know, going forward with this other understanding as though somehow we get at objective reality, which usually just means the people in charge get to define what that means.

Pete: The people in power, yeah, there’s no question about that. So, I mean, I think you told a story early on in the book about the elephant?

Jared: Mm hmm, yeah.

Pete: Tell that story.

29:44

Jared: Yeah, so, I mean it’s a classic story probably many of you have heard, which is, it’s kind of a parable. You have these, I always think of them as Indian because there’s an elephant in the story, but I guess they wouldn’t have to be. But they’re in this village and they’re blind and they go out and they run across this big object and one of them feels the leg of this object and they don’t know what it is, but they think it’s a tree trunk. So they’ll say, oh, this is a tree trunk. It’s a tree, we can go around it, that sort of thing. One of them, and I probably am just making it up because I change it every time I tell it, but someone else comes across the side, the torso of the elephant. Just, you know, smack against this big thing. Oh, no, it’s a wall, we’ve got to climb over it. There’s a wall here. And, you know, someone else says, oh it’s okay, I found a rope. It’s the trunk, of course. We could just use the rope to climb over the wall. Well, they’re getting pieces of this bigger reality, and it turns out to be an elephant. And so, in the book, I make the point that I think we’ve all heard that story, but the thing that kept bugging me about the story is we assume we know it’s an elephant. The story only makes sense if you know it’s an elephant. So, as I read it, I’m positioning myself as someone who is, has the god’s eye view.

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: What happens if I don’t actually know it’s an elephant? What happens if I can’t get outside of that perspective and I’m one of the blind men? I’m going to be thoroughly convinced and I’m going to die on the hill that this thing is a wall because that’s the only part that I can experience. So, I think it’s important to recognize the limitation of that story.

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: Which is we’re still getting the god’s eye view that it’s an elephant.

Pete: Mm hmm. You know, that could be an unsettling story –

Jared: Right.

Pete: Again, for people who, I mean, I say this sympathetically. People who have been taught or are used to thinking that, well, we do have the god’s eye view. That’s what it means to be Christian or something.

Jared: Right.

Pete: But, to be, to have that taken away, so to speak, which again, I think really only happens with experiences, like, that notion just washes away quickly. And to realize that the god that we have may only be the trunk or the tail or the side or the legs or whatever, and to come at the relationship with others with that sense of humility. And, I guess speaking the truth in love means having humility about truth defined in that one particular way of knowledge.

Jared: Mm hmm, right. Yup.

Pete: And not ethics or wisdom or something.

Jared: Yeah.

Pete: And that’s, I mean, that’s not… oh, Jared. That’s just not the kind of thing that liberals say man, I don’t know.

Jared: Yeah.

Pete: You’re so disappointing.

Jared: [Laughter] Disappointing…

Pete: But is it a liberal thing, really? I mean, I don’t think so.

Jared: I would just argue it’s just, it’s where we find ourselves. But, you know, you say that, I think it also points to the value of diversity, right? And I remember the episode we had with Joe Gordon who talked about the importance of diversity to get to objectivity, which is, if objectivity is putting the puzzle together and every perspective has a piece, wouldn’t we want all the pieces? If what we’re really after is objectivity, if we want to know it’s an elephant, the scientific method tells me I need to know about the guy who thinks it’s a rope, I need to know about the guy who thinks it’s a wall, and then when I start to put all that together, oh! I start to make sense of the bigger whole.

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: But that only happens with diversity. If the guy who thinks it’s a wall just goes back to his village and convinces everyone it’s a wall and then goes back and has everyone touch the wall but doesn’t let them explore anything else, you can only see this part and then they’re fighting with the people who think it’s a rope, and then they’re fighting with the tribe who thinks it’s a leg or you know, thinks it’s a tree. They don’t ever come together and see this bigger, beautiful picture of what it might actually be.

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: Now, some would argue at some point, we get to realize it’s an elephant if we put enough pieces together. And some would argue, mmm, I don’t ever think we’re going to figure that out.

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: That, for me, is kind of not, it’s irrelevant. It’s more about the process of gathering the information.

Pete: Because even after the information is gathered, we still might only have 100 pieces of a 1000 piece puzzle.

Jared: Exactly, yeah.

Pete: Which means it’s foolish to take, like, four of those pieces and say this is the truth.

Jared: Right. Exactly.

Pete: This is it.

Jared: Exactly, yup.

Pete: But how can you know if you’re right, Jared?

Jared: And that’s the problem, is we don’t have the box that tells us how many pieces.

Pete: Right, I know!

[Laughter]

Jared: So, you may think it’s a four piece puzzle.

Pete: Or maybe, oh. It’s the god puzzle? Infinite pieces –

Jared: Infinite pieces.

[Laughter]

Pete: And they get added all the time. And they’re not bound by time or space either, so knock yourself out.

Jared: And that’s where science can actually really help us, those of us who are into thoughts of god and faith is they keep being open to the fact that there are more pieces to the puzzle. So, we talked about Einstein earlier. That was one of those where somebody, Einstein just dumped 1000 more pieces into the puzzle and they were just like, oh, okay, here we go! Like, every generation of science has these pieces that just keep getting dumped and they figured out a way to do their work and to find meaning in their work even though there’s no end in sight. I mean, when does science end?

34:50

Pete: Yeah.

Jared: When do we know everything about the universe? I don’t think there’s any scientist who thinks we’re going to get there, and that doesn’t lead them to despair and say everything’s relative. Why even bother? It’s because it makes real, tangible differences every day.

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: And so, you know, this pie in the sky, like, literally if you like pie, you might think that pie in the sky is like heaven, idea that it’s all about the afterlife keeps us from understanding this perfectionist view, that somehow we’re going to cross the finish line.

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: But, the problem with our world if we accept science and evolution and all of these things is, there’s no finish line.

Pete: Yeah.

Jared: And we have to accept that and learn how to find meaning within the process.

Pete: And if you’re raised to think that the purpose of religion is to give you that finish line, this is not an easy thing. And all this started as just trying to talk about speaking the truth in love.

Jared: Right.

Pete: And how relatively complicated, well not complicated. It’s just not as determinative as we think it is, and truth means different things. It really does. It’s not just, like, you know, babbling on and trying to confuse people, and love means different things, so.

Jared: Well, if we start pulling back the layers of all the things we’ve inherited, you know, like, I think it’ll be surprising for people to realize it when they flip through their Bibles and read the context of the word truth, it really doesn’t ever mean, it’s hard to make that idea of an accurate view of God fit into the context.

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: But that’s how, for me, I would’ve always just grown up and just went right on by it, and I would’ve imputed that idea right into the text. So, when we started peeling back the layers of our own cultural conditioning, it starts to be a little unnerving. It does take time to kind of unpack truth and love and the Bible and what does it mean to be true. So, it brings me back to a lot of the conversations we’ve had when we say, like, somebody will write in and we had these question and answer episodes, they’ll say like, “well, is the Bible inerrant?” And we just kind of like, oh my gosh, like, we have to unpack so much –

Pete: Right.

Jared: It’s not as simple as yes or no, and sometimes I feel like people try to push us into that corner. “Well, it’s a simple question! Yes or no?”

Pete: Yeah.

Jared: It’s like, well no, it’s not a simple question.

Pete: At all.

Jared: It’s a very convoluted question. And the problem is when we think it’s a simple question.

Pete: Right. So, okay, we talked about the Bible a bit. Are there other stories in the Bible that may be, if someone were to ask you like, what’s your book about and tell me about a Bible verse or a Bible story, are there others that might come to mind that you use in your book to sort of illustrate this idea?

Jared: Yeah, I mean, I use a lot of passages from Paul, but I think, you know, one of the things I talk about in the book is the Bible. And I use as a paradigm, Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount. And I think more and more I see it as paradigmatic, this notion that, or the phrase that Jesus uses, you have heard it said, but I tell you.

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: And in the context of, if you read the rabbis and this dialogical way they went back and forth with their tradition, I’m getting more and more comfortable with the idea that Jesus is changing in the meaning of the Bible.

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: And I think that’s a really important way of thinking about how we interact with our Bible, because it’s there, it’s set, how dare you mess with it. And yet here we have Jesus, and you have examples of Paul too, but I wanted to pick on Jesus, have examples where he says, well, “you have heard it said,” and then he’ll quote a passage from the Hebrew Bible. He says, “but, I tell you.” And then, that but is a little misleading, I think. The but in that, we make it think like, “oh, he’s either, he’s negating the Old Testament and saying we don’t have to do anything the Old Testament says” –

Pete: Right.

Jared: “Or, he is endorsing it, and we have to do everything that it says.”

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: I think those are both bad options, because in the context of how rabbis would have interacted, they wouldn’t have seen it as negating. No one would ever think to negate what came before it. I mean, Jesus says it at the beginning, he said, “I didn’t come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.”

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: And so, we have to, what does it mean to fulfill the law? Well, it seems like that’s what Jesus is doing in this retelling of these passages and these socially accepted norms of what God wants from us. He’s repackaging them and then I would argue in a lot of ways, that’s what it means to fulfill.

Pete: Mm hmm, yeah.

Jared: Is to repackage it. And so –

Pete: To change the meaning.

Jared: To change the meaning for our own context. To keep it alive. It’s not to negate, nor is it to wholly endorse; it’s in that messy middle that we are fulfilling.

Pete: Mmm.

Jared: I take that too, we’ve talked about this, I think we’ve mentioned this passage, but, you know, in Matthew where he says, you know, out of Egypt I have called my son. And then he says, you know, “in this way, the prophet Hosea has been, it’s been fulfilled here.” Well, he used that same word, like, fulfilled? Really? Because if you go back to Hosea 11, it’s clear he’s not talking about Jesus.

39:58

Pete: Right.

Jared: So, in what sense is this prophecy fulfilled? I thought, oh, well, Matthew’s changing the meaning of Hosea to fit his current experience in the same way that Jesus is changing the meaning of these texts to fit his experience. And we see Paul changing the meaning in light of experience.

Pete: Right.

Jared: I thought, oh, that’s what fulfillment is, and that’s how we keep this whole thing going.

Pete: Right. Yeah, that’s a very different way of thinking of fulfillment. Not as like a prediction or something –

Jared: Right.

Pete: It’s just the obligation we have to bringing this text into a vital conversation with our current moment, right?

Jared: Right.

Pete: Which gets into questions of truth.

Jared: Right.

Pete: I mean, speaking the truth in love might mean you need to accept your gay son.

Jared: Right.


Pete: That might be the truth in love, even though I don’t think the author of Leviticus would ever say that.

Jared: Right.

Pete: Yeah, and Paul probably wouldn’t either.

Jared: Right. He would’ve may have been a little bit closer, but maybe not.

Pete: Maybe, but not super close.

Jared: No.

Pete: And then the question what would Jesus have said and I have no earthly idea what Jesus would have said, but Richard Hays, a New Testament professor at Duke, said Jesus was Jewish in the first century, he probably wouldn’t have been, you know, marching in a gay pride parade and that’s probably true. However, the thing is, a lot of time has passed and –

Jared: Mm hmm.

Pete: Do we keep having to explore this relationship between truth and love. Is that sort of the big spiritual responsibility to keep doing that with humility and –

Jared: Right.

Pete: And not to slam people with our own little version of the truth but doing that well is excruciatingly difficult.

Jared: Yeah, and to that, you know, you mentioned things that I draw upon. I make a big deal about the golden calf story in Exodus 32. It’s 32, right? And one of the fascinating parts I love about that story, and you can tell me I’m wrong, it’s okay.

Pete: You’re wrong.

Jared: I’m going to keep it in the book anyway. Is this aha moment when I was reading this, I don’t know how long ago, but I read it and I was struck by Aaron’s phrase in that. So, we all know he like, built this golden calf and it’s an idol, obviously. But Aaron’s phrase really stuck with me, which was “behold, your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt.”

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: So, it’s not like he, for me, I was like, oh, my gosh. This isn’t another god.

Pete: Right.

Jared: This is Aaron saying, this is Yahweh. This is the God who brought you out of Egypt, right?

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: I mean, it’s clear, we all know who brought us out of Egypt, it was Yahweh. Oh, this is Yahweh.

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: Right? So, for me it wasn’t, it just, I used to think of idols as like, this foreign, like, who could ever think of this, like, we have Yahweh who’s doing these amazing acts in the world and delivering us. Who would ever confuse that with like, a rock?

Pete: [Laughter]

Jared: But Aaron’s statement made me think, oh my gosh, like, we substitute God for things that we can control and manipulate and put on poles and see that gives us, as humans, comfort.

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: And we call that Yahweh. And so, it just started, for me, this, and not to quote John Calvin but I’m going to, you know. Our hearts are idol factories that we are constantly, he didn’t say factories –

Pete: I know, I was going to say.

Jared: A little post-industrial age. But the idea that we’re constantly creating idols. And I think that humility, you’re talking about, we have to recognize that. That that’s what we do. It’s not like we’re out here creating, you know, we’re not out here worshipping Moloch. We’re doing things and calling that God ordained, you know? We’re, we’re

Pete: Like the podcast?

[Laughter]

Jared: We have a podcast here and saying stupid things like, we’re the only God-ordained podcast.

Pete: And by the way, folks, we mean that. We’re very serious about that.

Jared: [Laughter]

Pete: So, please keep sending the emails telling us we shouldn’t say that.

Jared: We get an inordinate amount of those, yeah.

Pete: Oh gosh.

Jared: But anyway, I think that story is really helpful for me too in the quest for that humility.

Pete: Yeah.

Jared: To recognize, no matter how convincing it looks to me to be God, it’s probably just one of those idols.

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: That’s been my experience.

Pete: Yeah, and I guess the humility of it all is that, I think it was Mark Twain, I don’t like to quote people if I’m not sure about it, but you know, in the beginning God created man and like gentlemen, we’ve been returning the favor ever since.

Jared: Mm hmm.

Pete: You know, God created man in his own image, male language. And like gentlemen we’ve been returning the favor ever since because we do conceive of God in human terms. The Bible conceives of God in human, ancient kingly, even ideas like covenants are very much part of the reality of international politics of the ancient world. And so, even the Bible itself does that and I think we need to be willing to not simply adopt those images, but to see what images work in our culture, which is, again, getting back to speaking the truth in love and it gets really, really, really messy. I mean, it actually, it sort of exposes the genuine authentic messiness of all this.

45:00

Jared: Right.

Pete: It’s not just, again, the test that we take with the ten questions and you have to get at least nine of them right.

Jared: Wow, you’re a pretty liberal denomination. You only have to get 9 out of 10?

Pete: There’s 10 of ‘em, you have to get 11 right out of 10.

Jared: [Laughter] That’s right, you have to say, hey, you forgot a question.

Pete: Yeah.

[Laughter]

Jared: And add the extra one.

Pete: Oh gosh, all right. Well, Jared, I’ve been waiting to say this for years: we’re coming to the end of our time –

Jared: Hey, that’s my line.

[Laughter]

Pete: Where can people find you on the internet? Ah, no. Hey, how about this? As we are approaching the end of our time, I mean, you actually do this sort of thing for a living.

Jared: Mm hmm.

Pete: Actually, you have to, I’ll tell you about Jared’s job one day. It has to do with the mafia –

Jared: Kind of.

Pete: And a lot of negotiating going on. But anyway, Jared has to like, bring people together and have them talk to each other without killing each other, typically family members. So, like, what practical hints or skills or just thoughts can you maybe, a couple that you can leave people with because it is very hard to do what you’re saying is pretty fundamental, we should be doing, which is speaking the truth in love.

Jared: Yeah. So, I didn’t want to, I didn’t want to completely ignore what I think most people mean when they say speaking the truth in love, which really is being able to give your opinion in a loving way. And I think, you know, we’re heading into election season and we’ve been in COVID and it’s just been so polarizing.

Pete: And no baseball.

Jared: And yeah, exactly.

Pete: The world is falling apart.

Jared: How can we expect people to get along when there’s no baseball?

Pete: I know.

Jared: So, I didn’t want to just leave that unaddressed, and so I have a chapter called “Giving Our Opinion in Love,” and these are just some tips and experiences that I’ve had. Again, like you mentioned Pete, I’m in the room with people who do not get along most of my days, and so these are some of these principles and you know, it’s things that we probably would know if we sat down and thought about it, but the challenge is when we’re in these, our emotions sort of take over. But you know, it’s things like getting your heart in the right place and understanding what you want out of the conversation. So, what am I actually trying to do, and it’s really important that we can be brutally honest about ourselves because sometimes we just want our egos fed. I just want to be right.

Pete: Sometimes?

Jared: I just want to feel, I want to feel validated. I want to feel heard, and some of those aren’t even necessarily bad motives, we just maybe go seek it in an unhealthy way.

Pete: Yeah, I’m kidding around, but that describes me.

Jared: Right.

Pete: I mean, I have to check myself fifteen times before I get out of bed in the morning.

Jared: So, you know, some of the things that I try to check on is like, do I want what’s best for someone else? Am I going into a conversation wanting what’s best for them? Do I want someone to feel accepted for who they are? Do I want someone to feel heard? Do I value my relationship with them over getting them to agree with my opinion? So, checking, kind of, our motives for these conversations is really important. And then, secondly, you know, creating conditions for safe conversation. Sometimes it’s just not the right time or the right place for these things. Like, you’re sitting in front of, you’re sitting at the dining room table over Thanksgiving and you’re outing your Uncle for his, you know, inappropriate comments in front of eight people that he loves. How is he not going to get defensive, and how is this not going to turn into a huge fight?

Pete: I just speak the truth the way I see it, right? That doesn’t work, right? So…

Jared: Right. Well, and then the last thing I would say, and there’s a lot more in the book, but one that’s been really key, which is kind of counterintuitive is I actually have a real problem with the Golden Rule.

Pete: Ooo.

Jared: And the Golden Rule is, you know, do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. The problem is we’re not all built the same way. So, you don’t know how many family members I have where we get into this yelling match and at the end, I talk to them one on one and I was like, well, I was just trying to treat them the way I would want to be treated!

Pete: Right.

Jared: So, classic example is someone who they feel intimacy in a relationship by debate.

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: They like to fight. Fighting helps them feel connected, and some people, if you’re enneagram fans, it’s kind of the eight, right? The eight enneagram? But for others, like a nine on the enneagram, the peacemaker? You come after them aggressively and they shut down. So, I had two brothers once where one was an eight, one was a nine, and they had this viscous cycle where one wanted to feel connected and so he would go after his brother in these aggressive ways. And the other brother would retreat, and he wanted to connect with him, but he couldn’t because he kept feeling attacked, and we just went round and round. And I said, I sat them down and said I think the problem is the Golden Rule. You’re trying to treat each other the way you would want to be treated. And in so doing, you’re doing the opposite.

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: And so, I like to talk about the platinum rule.

Pete: [Laughter]

Okay.

Jared: The platinum rule is do unto others as I’ve learned from them that they want done to them.

Pete: Yeah.

Jared: So, that’s that relational language.

Pete: Right.

Jared: I’ve got to know how you actually want me to treat you.

Pete: Platinum, huh?

Jared: The platinum rule.

Pete: Okay.

Jared: You know? Because I’m gangsta.

Pete: Um. Do unto other as you would have them to do you according to the enneagram.

[Laughter]

Jared: [Laughter]

That’s right, that’s right. Yeah.

Pete: So, okay.

49:56

Jared: Yeah, it’s more relational. Which takes time and energy to know how, like, if I’m going to fight with you, I need to know how to fight fair. And if I’m going to know how to fight fair with you, I need to know what makes you tick.

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: I need to know what’s going to draw you in so that we can have a good conversation and what’s going to scare you or shut you down and if that’s my intent is to shut you down, then sure. But if it’s to connect with you and actually have a relationship, then I need to know what that looks like for you. And then I can have that conversation.

Pete: Which means we have to be in a different headspace than wanting to be right.

Jared: Mm hmm.

Pete: That’s just a really hard hurdle, but it’s, I think that brings peace –

Jared: Yeah.

Pete: And it brings harmony.

Jared: Well, to do it is really about self-work.

Pete: Yeah.

Jared: You know, to think that we can go into these conversations, you’re better off having a boundary and just not going into these conversations while you do your work.

Pete: Right.

Jared: Than to think that somehow I’m going to flip a switch and not get defensive and not have ego get in the way when I haven’t done the work.

Pete: Well, that list that you read, I mean, which is, there are other things too, but it’s like, you have to like, rehearse that –

Jared: Right.

Pete: In your mind before you go into a situation. I am determined to think what’s best for the other person.

Jared: Right.

Pete: And folks, if you’re like, when am I going to get a chance to do that? You have an internet connection.

Jared: [Laughter]

Pete: You have to do that every single day. Do it before you comment on this podcast. Let’s put it that way.

[Laughter]

Jared: Well, I do have to say this because I did get pushback on this. You know, I talked about some of these principles in a podcast not too long ago. Well, not too long ago, it was like, two years ago I think, on how to talk to people we disagree with and I got pushback to say what about people who often feel like they’re the unheard ones in a conversation?

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: So, I have to say, you know, practicing these things not at the expense of yourself.

Pete: Yes.

Jared: This isn’t advocating doormat theology where you just get yelled and screamed at and you take it.

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: There are very appropriate reasons to have a boundary.

Pete: Respect your own boundaries and respect theirs too.

Jared: Right. The only thing I would argue is, you can have boundaries without being belittling.

Pete: Right, right.

Jared: There are healthy way to have boundaries, and maybe unhealthy ways.

Pete: And just a quick question before we close. Is there a difference if there’s like, a power dynamic in the relationship?

Jared: Oh, absolutely.

Pete: How does that, how do you, how can you speak the truth in love if you’re not the one in power in a relationship whether it’s work or teacher and student or something like that?

Jared: Yeah, that gets a lot trickier.

Pete: Very complicated.

Jared: We probably don’t have time to talk into the dynamics of that, but I think it’s still, the principles are the same of, and I hate to say this, it’s the reality of the world we live in, but sometimes we have to count the cost.

Pete: Yes, right.

Jared: And we have to understand the implications of what happens if we do or don’t. I don’t think that’s a reason to ever stay in an unsafe situation or to tolerate things that are inappropriate.

Pete: Absolutely not. Right. Or just standing up for yourself.

Jared: Right.

Pete: Sometimes you just have to do that.

Jared: Yup, yup. But understanding the consequence of that and having a support system in place and reaching out for help, and those are all helpful things, I think.

Pete: Because you can stand up for yourself without meaning harm to another person.

Jared: Yeah, exactly. That’s the point.

Pete: That’s the thing, which is hard to do, because usually we equate, I often equate that with knocking the other person down a few pegs.

Jared: Right.

Pete: But that’s –

Jared: Not a zero-sum game.

Pete: Right, exactly.

Jared: I think of, I don’t know who said it, but I appreciate the idea that boundaries, a boundary is the distance at which I can love you and me simultaneously.

Pete: I’ll have to write that down.

Jared: Yeah.

Pete: Okay. Anyway folks, listen, that’s it for today, but here’s the book: Love Matters More: How Fighting to Be Right Keeps Us from Loving Like Jesus. How many pages is this thing?

Jared: 210?

Pete: Um….

Jared: Is this a quiz?

Pete: I guess. It’s 211.

Jared: Oof. That was my one miss.

Pete: You lost.

Jared: 9 out of 10.

Pete: That was your miss. With any popup pictures? You have some notes at the end, not a lot, folks, but he’s got some notes and anyway, so, yeah, buy the book. You know where to buy them. You know what’s really helpful is if you write an Amazon review. That’s really, really, really helpful. And I say this, you know, when I have a book come out too. It sounds like self-absorbed, but it’s not. You’re actually, you’re helping authors by creating a little bit of buzz for them and an Amazon review is a really good place to do that. So, if you’re so inclined, just a few words and a thumbs up would be fantastic from you. And if you don’t like it, well, you will. If you don’t like it, you don’t understand the book. Let’s put it that way. Is that right? Did I just speak the truth in love?

Jared: You did. I think, you nailed it.

Pete: Or was it passive aggressive?

Jared: You nailed it.

Pete: Okay, okay. Anyway, all right folks. Well listen, we’ll see you next time and thanks for joining us.

Jared: Thanks everyone.

Pete: See ya.

[Music begins]

54:27

Jared: We’re excited to announce that our friend, Cynthia Shafer-Elliot, Ph.D. in Biblical Studies, but even cooler, current member of the excavation team in Israel and specialist in archeology and everyday life in Bible times, has agreed to teach a course for us called “Everyday Life in Ancient Israel.” So, if you ever wondered what it was like to live in ancient Israel, what was a household like, what kind of religion did actual people practice, and how does that effect how we read our Bible, then this would be the course for you. Normally we have our courses for around $99, but we understand that a lot of people are feeling uncertain about things right now and we don’t want anyone turned down for lack of funds, so, this course is pay what you want, pay what you can. No amount is too small, but of course, we appreciate your support so that we can keep offering the best in biblical scholarship to everyday people. The course will be live every Tuesday night in October from 8:30 – 10:00 ET. However, no need to be there live unless you want to be able to ask Cynthia questions and have her respond in real time. Otherwise, each night will be available for download a few days later for those of you who won’t be able to make it those Tuesday nights in October from 8:30 – 10:00 ET. To register, just head to https://peteenns.com/everydaylife. See ya there.

[Outro]

Narrator: Thanks, as always, to our team: executive producer, Megan Cammack; audio engineer, Dave Gerhart; creative director, Tessa Stultz; marketing wizard, Reed Lively; transcriber and community champion, Stephanie Speight; and web developer, Nick Striegel. From Pete, Jared, and the entire Bible for Normal People team – thanks for listening.

[Music ends]

[End of recorded material]

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