The Truth about the Dress

The internet sure proved to be a strange place yesterday, didn’t it!?  Llamas and a dress temporarily took all of our minds off of some of the heavy news headlines of our day, and it seemed as though everyone gladly embraced the light-hearted reprieve.

I first saw this dress last evening in a post on twitter along with a question of the dress’s color.  White and gold.  Simple enough.  And I moved on.  Then I began to see the dress in more tweets.  I turned to Facebook where I saw the picture posted by friends in posts that already contained dozens of responses.  I began to wonder what the big deal was until I actually clicked on one such post and began reading through the comments.  At first I thought this must be a trick.  What are these other people seeing who say that the dress is blue and black??  So I finally took my iPad to my wife.  “Tell me what color this dress is,” I said, sarcastically.  “Blue and dark brown, why?” she responded.

WHAT!?!?

We laughed for the rest of the night as we traced social media conversations and discussed the possible reasons for our radically different perspectives.

The truth is, I knew that the dress was white and gold.  The truth is, my wife knew the dress was blue and dark brown.  I opened a link from twitter this morning that contained the answer to the mystery that had been posted by the owner of the dress last night.  The truth is, the dress is blue and black.

Had I been called upon last night to answer that question with my life depending on it, I would have ultimately answered white and gold.  I was sure in my mind that the dress was white and gold.  I would have argued with someone that the dress was white and gold.  This morning I was confronted with the truth.  The truth is, I am wrong. It struck me this morning that this whole dress comedy actually serves as a wonderful reminder about truth, itself.

The truth is, truth is not relative.

The dress is blue and black.  There is no way around this truth.  No matter how adamant I may be to the contrary, no matter how many people agree with me, the truth is ultimately the truth.  And the truth stands contrary to my assessment.

Relativism suggests that all truth claims are equally legitimate.  There is no absolute truth.  This viral picture of a dress serves to prove the foolishness of relativism.  The truth is the truth, and ultimately the truth will be revealed.  My assessment of the dress’s color, no matter how legitimate I thought it to be, was proven illegitimate in light of the truth.  I am wrong.  Even as I sit here now and see a white and gold dress, the truth compels me to know that I am wrong.  The dress is real, and it is blue and black.  This truth stands above my perspective because of the reality of the dress and its actual colors.  The truth about this dress is not relative.  All perspectives do not have equal legitimacy.  Many people are wrong.  The truth about the color of this dress is absolute.

Ultimately, the color of this dress means very little in the grand scheme of things.  But it serves as a great argument from the lesser to the greater.  Just as with the dress, the truth is absolute in all things.  True, we all have different perspectives and different assessments.  As we hold certain beliefs with even greater gusto than our assessment of a dress’s colors, ultimately we must understand that the truth is absolute.  The ultimate question does not lie in our level of passion or emotion backing our truth claim, but rather in the source of the truth we seek.  What is the basis, or foundation, of my belief, or truth claim?  If my only answer points to my feelings or my own sincerity, just like with the dress, can we really trust that foundation in determining what is really true?

I am reminded again by this whole dress ordeal that the legitimacy of a truth claim cannot be found in the sincerity of the person holding it.  Everyone is sincere and hold sincere beliefs about many of the same issues.  But, in returning to our viral illustration, ultimate the truth is revealed in the reality of the dress.  The dress exists, and it exists as blue and black.

This is why I am so thankful for God, whom I believe to be the source of all Truth, and his great gift of his Word that he has given to us.  My emotions often fail me.  I am often sincere, but sincerely wrong.  In the midst of my great error stands God’s Word, which is, “Forever…firmly fixed in the heavens” (Psalm 119:89).  I ultimately defer to it because “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

The dress reminds me that I am a lousy basis for truth.  I am glad God did not leave me to grope for truth in my own experiences, emotions and ill-shaped perspectives.  Instead he has revealed himself to us.  And since “God is light” (1 John 1:5), he offers me the opportunity to know what is true through what he has lovingly revealed.

So, what is the basis for what you claim to be true?  Without a basis outside of yourself, how can you know it to truly be truth?  Is it possible you could be wrong, even and especially concerning the biggest questions and issues you face?  What colors do you see when you look at the dress?

I Married my bride, Erin, in 2003. We have 3 children: Emma, Elijah, and Lydia. I have served full-time on staff at Westwood Baptist Church, in Roxboro, NC, since summer of 2006 as Pastor of Students & Discipleship. I am currently enrolled at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, pursuing my Doctorate of Education.

What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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