What do you do when trying to say something to someone, and he or she just won’t listen? Seriously, I’m asking. Do you have any tried-and-true suggestions that work better than others for getting people actually to hear what you’re trying to say?
One could say I’ve been in the business of communication since 1994, yet I can affirm from experience with certainty that the following saying is true: There’s none so deaf as those who will not hear.
Do you know what else is deaf? The Law. And by Law, I don’t mean civil decrees established by human beings. These things are forever listening, being proven flimsy by both good and bad considerations. I’ve heard of crimes committed by mistake that judges deemed worthy of mercy. Perhaps that’s an example of good, especially since it seems to mirror the grace our God offers to us in Christ. But I’ve also seen the sympathy of favoritism measured alongside the whines of a seemingly entitled few—as in the case of Hunter Biden and his dealings—or the current hypocrisy playing out among the liberal elite on Martha’s Vineyard. Do a little reading on those situations, and you’ll understand the saying, “The Law is for thee, not me.”
When I use the word Law, most often, I mean the Ten Commandments. In this case, I mean Natural Law.
Natural Law is entirely deaf. It cannot hear anyone’s attempts to negotiate with or whine against it, hoping for an exception. It’s not listening when you claim it’s unfair. It won’t acknowledge your preferences above its own. It shows no mercy to your accidental or intentional infringements. If you accidentally lop off a limb, it won’t feel sorrow, granting you a do-over. If you jump from a building with arms outstretched, no matter your beliefs about your potential for flight, Natural Law will bring you to the earth in painful judgment. If you dive into a swimming pool, no matter how certain you are that you’ll remain dry, Natural Law will prove your conviction foolish and soak you. Why are these things true? Well, the deepest answer always ends with what’s really going on behind the scenes (Romans 1:18). But aside from that, these things are true because physics is. Because Chemistry is. Because Natural Law is. Natural Law stands passionlessly immovable to anyone attempting to disturb it. It does so with a dry obsession utterly void of fear, concern, anger, sadness, or any care common to the cosmos that God put it in place to manage.
Interestingly, many in our world believe they’ve figured out a way to subdue Natural Law, to make it listen and obey. Their solution? Just keep talking, and along the way, try to bend its rules. Typically, such bending is coupled with a redefining of Natural Law’s language. I mention this having read a recently published paper entitled “The Dutch Protocol for Juvenile Transsexuals: Origins and Evidence” written by Michael Biggs, a Professor of Sociology and Fellow of St Cross College, University of Oxford. Michigan Senator Lana Theis shared the link with me, figuring I might be interested in what Dr. Biggs had to say. She was right. I read the whole thing. My guess is that it won’t be long before Biggs is targeted for cancelation by LGBTQ, Inc. I expect this because, in short, not only is the evidence overwhelming that the use of GnRHa puberty suppression drugs in children causes irreversibly physical and psychological damage, but the practice itself began and was furthered through the weakest standards ever known to science, and this was made possible by extraordinarily deceitful language brimming with redefinitions that resulted in outrageous claims regarding its long-term safety.
My thought in this is that the devil has been long-suffering toward this particular insanity. He prompted these things back in the mid-nineties. As it would go, it’s now a standard treatment for gender dysphoric kids—who many experts agree are really only experiencing the dysphoria due to the confusion caused by the adults around them.
Nevertheless, from the mid-nineties until today, Natural Law continued to be what Natural Law is—completely deaf to the conversation and entirely unconcerned with the manipulation of its language. Every uninterpretable variant of each new word remained immutable, forever retaining its roots in what’s real. As always, Natural Law doesn’t care that a man might believe himself to be a woman. Natural Law will forever govern him as a man. And again, why? Because biology is. The study by Dr. Biggs is an essential reminder of the horrible repercussions of believing and acting otherwise.
The ones behind these irreparable disasters—the ones prattling on incessantly that gender is subjective, that men can get pregnant, and so many other ridiculous things—as they speak and speak some more, they do eventually discover an amiable and convincible listener: the sin-nature at home in the audience. The sin-nature is only partially deaf. When truth is spoken, the words are garbled. But the sin-nature hears lies exceptionally well, and it’s inclined toward hearing more. With this, I think these unremitting liars have helped answer my original question regarding what to do when someone just won’t listen, which I’ll get to in a minute.
Critical of human tendency and its favorite conversation partner (the sin-nature), the poet Elizabeth Browning observed, “For say a foolish thing oft enough—the same thing—shall pass at last for absolutely wise, and not with fools exclusively.” In other words, the only way to avoid the truth is to create your own. Of course, to do this is to lie. And yet, it’s a lie that has the potential for acceptance if spoken repeatedly. Repetition is the number one rule in marketing when it comes to audience acceptance. Joseph Goebbels, the chief propagandist for the Nazis, who, knowing the same thing Browning and all professional marketers know, is purported to have spoken rather fondly of this reality in the twisted way you might expect. He said:
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic, or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
Whether or not Goebbels actually said this, he certainly proved the sentiment genuine. He even weaponized it so that an entire nation would sanction the oppression and murder of millions. Indeed, for liars, truth is the greatest enemy.
But this goes both ways. For truth-tellers, lies are the enemy.
And so, returning to where I began—what do you do when you are trying to communicate truth to someone who just won’t listen? In a way, I think the solution is the same for both liars and truth-tellers. Keep talking. Keep speaking the truth. As this meets with Natural Law, while it may not care about our conversations, it is, by default, already poised in the truth-tellers’ camp. When we cannot convince someone ideologically, Natural Law has a way of convincing them physically. Keen to this, we keep on talking.
Admittedly, you’ll need stamina for this. I say this for a very good reason. I don’t know about you, but when it comes to certain things troubling our society, sometimes I get sick of the sound of my own voice as I talk about them. This is true because I find myself saying the same things over and over again. It’s exhausting. Jennifer and I were just having this conversation a few nights ago regarding vulgar speech. We tire ourselves sharing our frustration with the prevalence of it in almost every aspect of society. Still, we hold a strict line on swearing in our family. Cursing is not a part of our everyday vocabulary. It’s not even something that happens during our most contentious moments as a family. But even as this may be our standard, it is by no means axiomatic in the world around us. Does that mean we’re fighting a losing battle as we continue talking about it with our kids? God’s Word says foul language doesn’t have a place among His people (Ephesians 5:4). With that, my answer is no, and so we stay the course. We keep railing against its cultural acceptability. Thankfully, this has produced tremendous dividends in our home. Disagreements result in far better and more productive conversations. And the stamina for keeping such a course? A steady diet of the Gospel for faith in Christ—the Truth in the flesh!
Forgiveness in Christ is the fuel. Connected to the Savior and the gifts He gives through Word and Sacrament, not only do we have what’s necessary for outpacing the foolishness of this world, but we have Truth at our fingertips for discerning and then countering the world’s lies with something far better (1 John 4:6).
In closing, and before I find myself down a rabbit hole, I suppose I should ask, “Do you know someone who just won’t hear you?” Yeah, I do, too. More than one, in fact. Well, for as outnumbered and exhausting as the conversations might seem, keep at it. And why? Well, as has already been shown, repetition is powerful. An even better reason is that you already know not to sit idly by and let untruth have its way. Untruth “is an abomination to the Lord” (Proverbs 12:22). Having this awareness, you’re obligated to war against untruth. You do this because you know that God delights in truth (3 John 1:3-4)—that the complete sum of His Word is truth, and as Christians, we have it in our midst, not only for ourselves but for others (Psalm 119:160). You also know God promises to bless and protect the efforts of His people to seek and to speak His truth (Proverbs 30:5; 2 Timothy 3:16; Matthew 6:33). How could He not, since faith already understands so well that in Christ, you will “know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32)? Free from what? Free from eternal condemnation and made free to extend the same life-giving news to others—the Gospel message that “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (v. 36).