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Part One: Integrity Series:  The Definition of Integrity

Integrity numbers

Integrity Is Looked Down Upon

Recently I completed a four session adult education class at my church (First Evangelical Free Church in Ames, Iowa) on the topic of Integrity.  Since it’s been awhile since I’ve had a series on my blog I thought I’d share a few of the insights I gleaned from my study and from comments from the class members.

The class was well received, this being the first time I’ve shared this information in public.  The topic is relevant to all of us, because we live in a hypocritical age that criticizes anyone that falters on the one hand and brags about our binges and sexual exploits on the other hand.  A basic theme in our media is: live life on the edge and we’ll mock and disparage you when you do.

Which is it?

Why Integrity Is So Important

Integrity says neither!  Integrity is the very thing our society lacks and longs for.  It’s the missing ingredient hurting marriages need.  It’s the aching in every child of divorce, every spouse who’s dumping the other or being dumped, every cohabiting single person, and every sexually active youth.

Our motto could be “Give me integrity or give me death” because without integrity promises become void, certainty becomes uncertainty, confidence becomes a lie, trust becomes a joke, reliance a figment of our imagination and confusion reigns.

Welcome to modern America.

I used four resources for my material: 1) The Bible; 2) Dr. Henry Cloud’s book Integrity: The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality (Which I highly recommend); 3) Examples from the news; 4) My clinical experience.  This blog series will also draw upon some of the comments from the class members.  A thanks goes out to them for their insights and lighthearted spirit.

Integrity is the fundamental need in marriages today and timely for blogs on the topic.  I’m convinced if everyone had integrity, I’d be out of a job.  If you had integrity and your parents had integrity and their parents had integrity and we multiplied this throughout the world, our world would be a vastly different place.

What Does Integrity Mean

Dr. Cloud wrote in the book referred to above that the word “integrity” comes from the word integer, meaning whole number.  You remember this from your 8th grade math classes, right? One is a whole number.  Two is a whole number. Three is a whole number.  One, two and three are all integers.  2.2 is not a whole number or integer.  2.2 is partly an integer, but not really.

When we say someone has integrity we mean they are whole.  They are not a fake.  Their word is good.  What they are in the dark, they are in the light.  They keep their promises.  Their heart does not wander.

Integrity means there’s no holes in the boat.  A boat needs to be 100% hole-less.  100% solid. How big of a hole will it take to cause the boat to sink?  You say, “Well, it’s a perfectly fine boat. See?  The hull is 99% whole.  We’re fine!”

No.  We want a boat with no holes.

I’d thought of standing in the front of the class and having a clear glass of water in one hand and a jar of urine in the other and then ask the class to tell me how much urine I could pour into the glass of water before they wouldn’t drink it.  Someone commented, “You know, if you are dying of thirst you could survive on your urine.”  Someone else piped in, “You know, if you drive your boat fast enough, the water will get sucked out of the hole.”  And someone else said, “Stay away from the urine examples.”  And everyone laughed.  They were killing me!

But you get the point.

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