When Frank and I married in 1963, our lives were lived between
two poles--the campus of Abilene Christian College, where we
attended classes and I was employed, and the office of the
Abilene Reporter-News, where Frank worked. Both were
dedicated to truth.
A quotation carved above the door of the Administration Building
at the college read: "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall
make you free."
And a quotation on the masthead of the Reporter-News
proclaimed: "Without or with offense to friends or foes, we sketch
your world exactly as it goes."--Lord Byron.
Both were claiming allegiance to truth in different forms, and both
worked to bring that truth to light.
The college was devoted to Scriptural truth, propounding it in
most of the classes I took there.
And the newspaper, where I visited Frank at work and later
contributed to as author of the campus column, "Hilltop
Happenings," was devoted to speaking truth to power and
helping its readers function as informed citizens in a democracy.
Truth is a fundamental tenet of good journalism. My father first
expounded it, and my journalism classes emphasized it as well in
those innocent days before extreme partisanship and advertising
made lies all too common.
It's also a tenet of Christianity. Cruden's Bible Concordance
gives four distinct uses of the word truth:
1) opposed to falsehood, lies or deceit
"A truthful witness gives honest testimony, but a false witness tells
lies" (Proverbs 12:17)
"Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self
with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being
renewed in knowledge in the image of its creator" (Colossians
There was a time when most people prided themselves on telling
the truth. When journalistic integrity was respected and
respectable, and when newspapers hired fact-checkers to be sure
what they said was correct.
Now, many do not respect journalists since the word has been
expanded to include all kinds of sensationalists and people who
value partisanship over truth, since people who once were
respected admit that they have invented stories, and newspapers
hire lawyers to keep them from being sued, not being dishonest.
2) fidelity, sincerity and punctuality in keeping promises
This sense of the word is often used in reference to God's
merciful kindness (Genesis 24:27).
As God's people in the world, we should show his faithfulness in
keeping our word as well, yet how often do we say we'll do
something while showing by our actions that we plan to do it if it's
convenient or if nothing better comes along?
"He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from his heart. . .who keeps his oath even
when it hurts. He who does these things will never be shaken"
As I grow older, I find myself making fewer commitments,
especially social ones, because when I make a commitment, I feel
duty bound to keep it, and recently I have less energy to do so.
3) the true doctrine of the gospel
"Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth" (John 17:17). I've
been blessed to spend a 24-year career studying and
disseminating the gospel through Christian journalism and the past
15 living it out in service.
There's nothing better than spending your life doing work you are
proud of and enjoy and feel is useful to others.
4) opposed to hypocrisy, dissimulation or formality
"Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of
faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty
conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water"
My life has been a struggle for the balance implied by the
scripture "speaking the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15). For many
years, I was so concerned not to be hypocritical that I told the
truth no matter how painful it was to others. Then I began to
realize the value of being kind and loving, and I found myself
dissimulating. I'm still working out that balance, and I'm learning
to keep my mouth shut more often.
Now, 50 years after the beginning of Frank's and my life together,
truth in all its multifaceted meanings is still fundamental to my
identity--and it continues to form the basis of our relationship, as I
believe it must of all real relationships.