I read an article yesterday that referred to a Christian blogger as a hypocrite because he was caught doing something that contradicts his theology. He is attracted to men, but he believes homosexual behavior to be outside of God’s expressed intention for his life. He writes openly an honestly about his ongoing homosexual attractions, and his daily decision to align his heart and life with what he believes the Scriptures are calling him to in the midst of his unchanging attractions.
This guy hit a rough patch and joined a popular gay dating site for a few days on two different occasions. He was identified, outed, and is now slandered across the news as a deceiver and hypocrite. Bear in mind: this guy has never claimed to have become “straight” and he has never claimed to be perfect—he’s always been upfront about his ongoing attractions and his ongoing inability to live a perfect life (hence, Jesus came and lived the perfect life that he couldn’t).
I want to rip my hair out one follicle at a time whenever I hear something like this. Why are Christians vilified every time an inconsistency arises in our lives? There are two things to consider here:
1.) Everyone is a hypocrite. I’ve never met a single human being who did not, at some point, do something that contradicted their value system. Most people believe we should treat others as we wish to be treated, but I’ve never met a person who didn’t (at some point) demean another person, slander another, or ignore someone who they found to be annoying. Many people believe in “tolerance” and “coexistence” among any and all religions, but those same people often discriminate against those particular religions whose beliefs they find disagreeable. I’m not wagging my finger at those who don’t live up to their ideals: that’s to be expected from human beings, as we’re all in a battle between our values and our selfish nature. I’ve been a health nut for a long time, but when I was in college I had several episodes of eating an entire half gallon of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream in one sitting (indian style on my kitchen floor). In every area of our lives, we fail to live up to our ideals—all of us.
2.) Christians have never claimed to be above hypocrisy; we’ve claimed to be loved in the midst of our hypocrisy. We have never claimed to be morally superior to others; we’ve claimed to have a remarkable Savior who embodied perfection on our behalf. We believe that every human being has missed the mark, we’re all self-absorbed and hypocritical—and that God offers grace freely to those who recognize their inability to pull themselves up out of the abyss we’ve fallen into.
Christians are constantly shamed into keeping silent about our beliefs for fear that others will call us out on areas where our actions are inconsistent with our ideals. This has to end! When we miss the mark—and we most definitely will—we should be quick to acknowledge that we’re flawed, imperfect people. But that shouldn’t negate the truth that we believe about a God who lavishes unending love upon us in spite of our imperfections. Our imperfections and inconsistencies should be presupposed by our claims that we’re sinners saved by grace.
If someone is actively engaging in a hidden behavior they outwardly deny, that should be addressed. If someone is lying or deceiving others on an ongoing basis, they should be corrected and own up to the particular nature of their imperfection. And if someone claims to be morally superior to others or to live a perfect life, then let it be known that they’re completely misrepresenting the whole of the Christian faith. But genuine Christian belief acknowledges our inabilities and insufficiencies in the very act of pleading for a Savior, so I struggle to understand why “hypocrite” is the label spewed in the spitfire condemnation from so many.
If you ever find out that I made a royally stupid decision that contradicts my beliefs, don’t be surprised. I’m in the company of saints like Peter and Paul, who openly acknowledged they often found themselves doing things that didn’t align with their values. It grieves me when my actions don’t line up with those modeled in the Scriptures, but I’m side-swiped with gratitude every time it happens because it reminds me I’m loved in the midst of my ongoing failures. Are you sick of hypocrisy running rampant everywhere you turn? Then look to the one and only man who’s ever walked the earth without a hypocritical streak in his character—He’s the one we’re identifying with when we say we’ve found something better.