(In Christianity and hypocrisy, part one, I mentioned that all Christians are hypocrites, including myself. Now I’m going to explain why.)
All Christians are hypocrites.
That sounds like something that an atheist or an embittered non-Christian might say. In fact, some who have been in close contact with Christians and not been too impressed might say it too.
But I’m a Christian myself, and I say it. And I say that I too am a hypocrite.
Before I answer that, I’m going to quibble about the standard definition of hypocrisy. Here’s a fairly common definition that I took from Wikipedia:
Hypocrisy is the act of pretending to have morals or virtues that one does not truly possess or practice. The word derives from the late Latin hypocrisis and Greek hupokrisis both meaning play-acting or pretence. The word is arguably derived from hypo- meaning under, + krinein meaning to decide/to dispute. A classic example of a hypocritical act is to denounce another for carrying out some action while carrying out the same action oneself.
I’d like to point out that the last sentence is potentially inconsistent with the rest of the definition.
For instance, someone could actually believe that eating raisins is wrong. And that same someone could also condemn other people for eating raisins. But it’s also possible that this person would have the most unbelievable craving for raisins and, sometimes, succumb to the cravings and – guiltily – buy and eat raisins.
What I’m trying to indicate is that hypocrisy is not just pretending to have beliefs that you don’t actually have. Hypocrisy is also having a belief and not acting in accordance with that belief.
Which is why all Christians are hypocrites. And why I am a hypocrite.
Because we (I) hold certain beliefs about what is morally right and what is morally wrong. But we (I) do not always do what we believe to be right. Sometimes we do what we believe to be wrong.
In the words of the Bible, this is willful sin. (Sin, of course, being disobedience against God’s desires.) And it’s one of the worst forms of disobedience.
Just like a parent is much more sad, much angrier, much more disappointed when a kid knows what he is doing is wrong, and continues doing it, God is much more displeased when one of His children knowingly breaks one of His rules.
It’s basically saying to God: I know this is wrong but I’m going to do it anyways. It’s defiance – essentially giving God the finger.
Christians aren’t perfect. They never will be – not on this earth. We still struggle with our old natures. We want to do things we know we should not.
The idea is that as we grow, as we learn, as we mature, we get better and better at resisting impulses to do what we know is wrong. (The Bible calls these temptations.)
But we never totally outgrow our base personality – and it’s deeply tainted with emotions, desires, and wishes that are wrong.
Anyone – Christian or unChristian – who says differently simply does not know himself.
In this sense, we are not too dissimilar from people who are not Christians. In reality, everybody is to a greater or lesser degree a hypocrite – because we all do things that we know we should not do.
If we didn’t, we’d be perfect.
Wouldn’t that be nice!