Three Words You’re Not Allowed To Say :: Church & State with Zack Hunt

by Zack Hunt



We are blessed with the freedom of speech in the United States, but sometimes that blessing can be a curse.

Politicians lie to our faces constantly, manipulating the truth for political gain, while their followers carry on the lies in blind allegiance to a party’s ideology caring little about the very real damage their rhetoric can inflict.

Preachers spew hateful rhetoric in the name of Jesus as their followers turn a blind eye, or worse defend it, because there’s that one verse in the Bible and all the while the pain of others is dismissed in the name of orthodoxy.

Tragically, the lies, manipulation, and hate speech haven’t just become acceptable; they’re expected and cause less and less outrage the more they’re repeated.

But for all the freedom we give preachers and politicians to say whatever they want to say however they want to say it, there are three words that are still forbidden in the church, in Washington, and everywhere in between.

“I was wrong.”

They’re simple words, but words most of us find all but impossible to say.

Admitting we’re wrong exposes our imperfection and in a culture that worships perfection and treats arrogance and narcissism are virtues, there is no greater sin than finding the humility to admit one’s flaws. Our brokenness simply doesn’t have a place in a world of chiseled bodies, toned abs, and perfectly constructed tweets.

And it’s painful admitting we’re wrong. Doing so requires us to give up our position of power and control, temptations we’ve craved since the Garden. Admitting our imperfect knowledge means admitting we’re not in control, that we’re not the lords of all creation our society tells us we need to be if we’re to make it in life.

But admitting we’re wrong may actually be most painful for those around us, because it turns us into a mirror in which our neighbors and enemies alike are forced to confront the very real possibility that they may not have everything figured out either.

And so, any change in a position is portrayed as weakness rather than wisdom, as weak willed failure rather than mature courage.

But this culture of intellectual stubbornness isn’t healthy.

It doesn’t allow for the growth that’s necessary not just for us to mature, but the growth society (and the church) needs to undergo in order become a better, more just, and holier place in which to live.

We learn most from our mistakes, not our success, because our mistakes force us to carefully examine what went wrong and why. But if we never admit we’re wrong, we can never learn from our mistakes and thus we can never grow

Now, this doesn’t mean we can’t be right about some things and stick to our convictions.

We can and we should, but we also need to have the wisdom, humility, and courage to consider the possibility we could be wrong about important things that have serious consequences.

In other words, the bravest, wisest, most principled thing we can do sometimes, isn’t standing up for what we believe in and refusing to compromise.

It’s admitting that we believe in might be wrong.

Grace and peace,

Zack Hunt


7 Responses to “Three Words You’re Not Allowed To Say :: Church & State with Zack Hunt”

  1. Chris Malkemes February 18, 2014 at 7:08 am #

    Zack, you hit on something people really don’t want to talk about. “I AM WRONG!”
    This means that if you’re wrong then I might be wrong too and we can’t have that,can we? We are much quicker to say, “You’re Wrong!” or justify our own “wrongness.”
    Clinton flat out lied, “I never touched that woman.” and yet when the truth came out more people justified his position. The lie took on new perspective.
    I wrote this down the other day. “We are not just accountable to the Living God – we are accountable….period.”
    It takes strength, guts, humility or whatever macho to just say, “I am wrong.” because at that point you have to do something about it. You have to make the wrong right. If more people did that then maybe this world would shine a little brighter because we’re walking in the light as He is in the light.

  2. Joetta February 18, 2014 at 10:24 am #

    Very true! I’ve had ongoing conversations with local politicians where I said, if you pass that bill, the consequences will be … They replied they didn’t believe that. The bill passed, I told them, the harmful consequences did indeed come to pass. To which they replied, ‘I’m sorry that happened’, no admission of being wrong. As for myself, I definitely believe in ‘might be wrong’ for most things, not everything. But coming to the conclusion that I’ve been wrong gets harder as I get older, because I believed I was right for soooooo long!

    It would be interesting to hear your views on why ‘I am sorry’ is so acceptable for politicians these days, and seems to excuse them from any behavior.

  3. Drew Downs February 18, 2014 at 11:09 am #

    This is the hardest phrase, isn’t it? At our annual meeting of our church this year, I named the duplicity publicly: that we are generous when we are happy and the church is rich and we clutch tightly to our wallets when we are unhappy and the church is struggling. This means I have to pretend to always be right and always be happy, convincing everyone else that they are right and happy. Even when they aren’t. And, in the case of giving, especially when they aren’t.

    It’s too early to tell, but I’ve got a feeling this honesty hasn’t gotten me anything other than satisfaction for naming the problem and offering a new, more honest direction.

  4. Alena@TheHomemadeCreative February 18, 2014 at 11:15 am #

    Exactly right. Owning that you don’t know everything, however strong your reasons for believing whatever is in question, is not weakness, but strength – but in our upside down culture, that’s sadly not the case at all. Humility and humiliation seem to be synonyms, anymore.

  5. Rebecca February 18, 2014 at 12:48 pm #

    True freedom comes when we can admit our faults, embrace the process of redemption and soak in Divine Love. I’ve lost quite a few friendships because I admitted my uncertainty about life.

  6. Diana February 18, 2014 at 6:14 pm #

    This is true on every level, I think. Certainly, as you point out, in the political arena. But also on FB, Twitter, in our homes, in our churches. It’s hard for us to say we might be wrong about something – yet, it is probably the single most healing phrase in the English language. We’re a weird bunch.


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