A couple weeks ago I got an email from a friend with an observation about some of the conversations he had heard on the podcast I co-host. He commented:
There seems to be an underlying assumption in every podcast that “realness” is good and “fakeness” (whatever that is) is bad. . . The main point is, our generation is infatuated with realness and authenticity. The only problem is, realness is often times simply an expression of the sinful nature.
His point was well-taken. It is dangerous to make the leap to equating authenticity with goodness rather than keeping godliness as the standard for goodness. It was such a good point, in fact, that we decided it was worth it’s own conversation on the podcast. Here are some of the questions we discuss?
– Does authenticity mean spewing at the mouth about every thought, opinion, or emotion?
– What happens if you are an authentic jerk?
– How do we decide how real or authentic to be in different relationships?
– What’s the deal with church small groups expecting total exposure of heart and life?
– Is authenticity authentic if you are doing it merely to fit in?
– How do we grow in inner authenticity, our own relationship with God since it is even easy to be fake there?
It is true that authenticity often is merely an expression of our sinful nature and for that reason there isn’t inherent value in “you being who you are” no matter what. But if you are a Christian you are also no longer defined fully by your sin. You are a new person. So authenticity is some balance between admitting failures and pursuing holiness. It will have it’s ugly moments and it’s shining ones because in this life we are both ugly and new. But at no point can we look away from godliness as the standard and decide that “being real” is the essence of good.