I was taught, and I’ve believed for a long time now, that truth is more important than people, that principle is more important than relationship. But as think a bit more critically, I’m seeing a very basic problem here for the very first time.
Certainly, any sense that people are in some way unimportant is an error: God so loves us that He’s willing to become our sin (2Co 5:21) and die for us, suffer on our behalf, in our place, and take upon Himself our eternal punishment! (Jn 3:16)
What can be more important than the very life of God? If He so values us that He would give Himself for us (Tit 2:14), how can we possibly conceive of anything being valued more? So we’re each infinitely valuable to God, implying our relationships are also infinitely important. (1Jn 4:11)
Yet this cannot mean that people and relationships are more important than truth, for we’re to buy the truth and sell it not, not for any price, ever. (Pr 23:23) Wisdom, instruction, understanding … this is all priceless (Pr 4:7); there’s never a good time to sacrifice principle for convenience, or to build relationships, or even to alleviate suffering.
True principles are eternal, part of the nature of God Himself. (De 32:4) Christ, Himself the Truth (Jn 14:6), could never sacrifice truth or principle for anything or anyone, and neither should we. (1Pe 2:21-22) So, what’s more important?
There’s evidently a problem inherent in the thought itself: it presumes one of two choices is more important than the other, that we ought to be comparing them, willing to choose between the two. But is this itself aligned with truth? Should we be comparing the importance of truth, part of the nature of God, with the importance of people, for whom Christ died?
Whenever the enemy presents our choices, as he often does via situational ethics, we can bet he’s not dealing us a full hand. Be on the alert for his way, his game, and don’t let him dictate the rules. That isn’t his place.
If our principles don’t place infinite value on people, we don’t have the right principles (1Co 13:2-3); and sacrificing truth or principle is tolerating darkness within, alienating ourselves from God and others such that we can’t be in authentic, wholesome, godly relationships. (1Jn 1:6)