I’ve got hypocrisy on the brain. Mainly this is because I’m a Gospel preacher in a skeptical world. A common objection to Christianity is that Christians are Hypocrites. That is, they say and profess one thing but act or live the opposite – that is hypocrisy in its essence. This is not a weak argument against the Faith and so deserves the respect given to any worthy opponent. There is no doubt that hypocrisy is detrimental to Christian witness. Hypocrisy brings disrepute, destroys credibility, and like one bad apple spoiling the batch, one hypocrite can make all Christians look bad. Previously, I wrote about how while hypocrisy is really bad it is not all bad. Nevertheless, because Jesus Himself does not suffer hypocrites gladly, we should fear and avoid becoming one.
But… exposing hypocrisy (Christian or otherwise) is not a pursuit without peril. Turning once again to another’s wisdom, we can see a valuable insight about hypocrisy. Writer Douglas Copeland, in his marvelous novel Girlfriend in a Coma , has embedded a jewel about exposing hypocrisy. In the midst of existential musing, one character reflects that:
Exposing hypocrisy in itself doesn’t make you a moral person.
Finding hypocrisy in another is very satisfying. Dangerously satisfying. Hence Copeland’s wisdom. Just because you can find hypocrisy in another, does that automatically make you their moral superior? The answer is ‘of course not!’ This goes not only for your character but also for your position. Just because someone else is a hypocrite doesn’t automatically make your belief true.
What is true? That really is the question. There is no doubt that Christian hypocrisy is detestable. Especially considering what Christ thought of it. But if preacher preaching against adultery turns out to be a real cad running around on his wife, does that make your sexual immorality okay? When people tell me that Christians can be hypocrites, I just agree with them. I’ve been on the inside long enough to tell them they don’t even know the half of it. But when someone who professes that Jesus is the Lord doesn’t live like He is their Lord, the question still lingers… Is He the Lord?