Reflection: The Danger of Half-Truths

by Father Don Thomas

The danger of half-truths is that they can be truly misleading and divisive. They are replete with danger, and can easily and innocently guide one's thinking into what is erroneous and false. If something is half true, the other half must be false. Hence, the name. What I have noticed is that people who are intelligent and very good-living people propose a number of half-truths, with no one ever challenging them on their true misleading nature. Some examples might serve to illustrate this fact.

Please keep in mind that these people are really very good people. There is no malice or offense intended by their attitude or their personal convictions. Over a period of some forty years, I cannot tell you the exact number of times that it has happened that after a Catholic Church wedding, I have attended the reception, and many times it has been my experience to have any number of Non-Catholics approach me to say how much they enjoyed the wedding service, even though they were not Catholic, and how grateful they were for the explanations pertaining to the Sacrament of Matrimony, the vows and the symbolism of the wedding rings.

For many of these people, it was their first time in a Catholic Church, and in their generous commendations and expressions of appreciation for the ceremony, I have found them to be so different from some Catholics, whose only comment, if any at all, might be that the ceremony was too long. The former look upon it in a positive way, in contrast to the negative remarks some Catholics may make about the long time it took. I simply point this out to stress the good and healthy attitude of the former group that enjoyed it so much.

As the conversation winds down, the Non­ Catholic will very often say something like this: "Well, as I said, I really enjoyed the ceremony, and even though I'm not Catholic, I do not think that really matters, because after all, there's only one God and we're all heading for the same place". Right there is the half-truth. On every occasion, I have always said "thanks" to the person and let it go, as that is no time for a convert class and it would not be the proper time to pursue the subject. But here is what happens sometimes. During the course of the wedding reception, it has happened on a number of occasions that as the crowd thinned out, that same individual may come and sit right next to me, and often he or she will want to continue a discussion of religion. That is what gives me the opening to refer to the half-truth "After all, there is only one God and we are all heading for the same place".

That is when it is so proper to point out that the "half that is true is the fact that there is only one God"...That is true. But then it gets interesting when it becomes fitting to ask the person what he or she means by "After all, we are all heading for the same place". We are all heading for the same place? Pointing with my finger, I ask right away, where is that same place? Is it up or down? Of course, they always come back and say "Up, of course, Heaven, not Hell. I immediately follow that up by saying something like "You have to be kidding. Do you really believe what you just said in stating that we are all heading for the same place? Are you telling me that you really believe that people who are not even baptized, people who commit murder, adultery, get drunk every day, lie and steal all their lives — they're all heading for the same place — Heaven"?

That is ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous! If that is true, I want to know why anyone should be good. Why should people work hard all their lives as Catholics, Jews or people of other Christian persuasions, if everyone who dies goes straight to Heaven, good and bad alike? We should all get married ten times, get drunk, avoid church, commit adultery, steal, lie and do everything else that is morally wrong. Why not, if we are all heading for the same place? I say if anyone knows anything at all about the Bible and the revelation of God, that is not the way it is after death. Otherwise, why did Jesus talk about the goats and the sheep, Heaven and hell and reward and punishment? Why did Jesus say "Depart from me and Come into the Kingdom"? Does that sound like we are all heading in the same direction?

No, it is quite different, and one is truly wise to follow the teaching of Jesus Christ Who called Himself the Way, the Truth and the Life. Believe me, it is correct to say and believe that there is only one God, but we are not all heading for the same place. Without explaining them, let me say that there are many other half-truths being thrown around in our society today. Just to point out a few, it would be interesting to discuss the tenet that "Some people may claim that there is only one true church, but as far as I am concerned, one church is as good as another". And another: "There's more than one way to get to Heaven; you go your way and I'll go mine". That makes for another great discussion, just in case someone wants to include "God's Way". Somehow I think He has revealed a costly plan for salvation, worthwhile considering, for then we may easily see that it is not a question of "your way or my way", but really it is all about His way. Indeed, half-truths can be very misleading. Let those who have ears to hear with keep them open.

 

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