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Dear Rihanna: 'Your Truth' Won't Set You FreeAvrillilla / Flickr
Dear Rihanna: 'Your Truth' Won't Set You Free

Dear Rihanna: 'Your Truth' Won't Set You Free


Feb 11 2013
Our individual exceptionalism has theological consequences.

Rihanna recently confirmed what most of her fans were expecting: Yes, she and ex-boyfriend Chris Brown are back together. Last night, they sat together at the Grammy's.

While celebrity couples frequently make headlines, Rihanna and Brown have garnered special attention due to their rocky past. On the night of the 2009 Grammy's, Brown was arrested for assaulting Rihanna in a domestic dispute, and soon after the altercation, photos emerged of the beautiful star's face mangled by cuts and bruises.

In the years since, Rihanna has been candid about her feelings for Brown and revealed that they were together again in a Rolling Stone article aptly titled "Crazy in Love." Knowing the rest of us are wondering how she could re-enter a relationship with a man who beat her, Rihanna offered up this defense: "Even if it's a mistake, it's my mistake…I'd rather just live my truth."

My truth. This term is really making the rounds these days. In addition to being the title of a three-part reality special about Nicki Minaj, it has become a common feature of celebrity philosophizing. In her 2005 reality show Britney and Kevin: Chaotic, Britney Spears declared, "People can take everything away from you, but they can't take away your truth…Can you handle my truth?'' Last year, amidst the swirl of Charlie Sheen's departure from Two and a Half Men, Sheen told one interviewer, "All I can do is speak my truth." And more recently, actress Dakota Fanning described her latest character's coming of age journey as "finding her truth."

This credo was even satirized in the comedy Couples Retreat. Vince Vaughn's character, Dave, falsely believes that he was nearly killed in a shark attack. When his wife disagrees with his interpretation of the events, he retorts, "I know my truth!"

The scene in Couples Retreat is a great commentary on the substance of the phrase, as it portrays the frequent disconnect between personal truth and actual truth. Despite all evidence to the contrary, Dave believed he had nearly died. It was "his truth." Likewise, Rihanna threw caution and domestic abuse statistics to the wind in favor of "her truth." Spears's "truth" led her to marry a man who had just abandoned the mother of his children. And Sheen's truth seemed to differ from that of every other person he worked with.

The relativist philosophy driving these "truth" statements is a staple of our culture's belief system. In fact, it is even present in churches. Among Christians the "my truth" mantra tends toward a more spiritualized form, repackaged as "God told me" or "I know this is what God wants for me." At times, these statements are true, but when wielded in opposition to Scriptural teaching or community counsel, they reveal the same individualistic core as the celebrity sound bites.

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Dear Rihanna: 'Your Truth' Won't Set You Free