Monday, April 7, 2008

It's always open season on hypocrites

Is there any more tempting target than a hypocrite? Anyone who preaches one thing but does another might as well wear a bright red bulls-eye -- and it's always open season.

The priest who professes celibacy but molests children. The televangelist who makes millions urging others to give their last dollar to "God's work." The businessman who never misses a worship service but also never misses a chance to backstab a competitor.

The gulf between what they say and what they do discredits their faith and chases seekers away in disgust. But does it invalidate the belief itself? I ask because I've so often heard people say that there's no point joining [fill in name of any particular faith community here] because "they're all hypocrites."

And most of us are, to a greater or lesser extent. Hypocrites R Us.

It's the nature of religion to insist on ideals and values that are hard to live up to. And it's the nature of human beings to slip into self-interest or laziness -- or worse, to warp the teachings of a faith to justify horrific acts. In even the most minor exercise of hypocrisy, we reflect badly on what we claim to value most. In the worst, we injure and scar the innocent, leading others to attribute evil deeds to God's influence.

G.K. Chesterton wrote, "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried." I suspect the same comment applies to other faiths as well.

But again, does the fact that so many fall short of the ideal make the ideal itself unworthy of pursuit?

34 comments:

Iztok said...

"But again, does the fact that so many fall short of the ideal make the ideal itself unworthy of pursuit?"

In general only if ideal is one worthy of pursuit.

Someones ideal of "Arian nation" is not one worthy of pursuit for example.

Problem is that (if looking from Christian perspective - and many other religions) we are created broken but expected to do better. We are born into original sin and expected to live as sinless life as possible. Hard not to be hypocritical with that kind of baggage we inherited to no fault of ours. Now if we were born sinless and would be up to us to live as such or sin, that would be another matter. Then we might have a fair chance of free will.

It is also hard to understand where the role of personal responsibility and accountability lies when one can live whatever life one wants as long as on their death bed accepts some sort of salvation by accepting something. It would perhaps lead us to less hypocritical lives if we would be responsible for all our deeds throughout our life.

Anonymous said...

I have found that organized religion does more harm than good - humans have been fighting over religion for years and years. It divides people and it enstills fear in them and quite frankly, I think it is pretty damn sad.

Anonymous said...

Continuing Jane's example, "...the self-professed atheist who frequents The Mosaic Church, etc."

Anonymous said...

If you believe in the god of the bible--we are all hypocrites because we are created in his image.

pornstudent said...

The Christian ideal has been tried. Christian's have asked and depended on the Holy Spirit to help them as Jesus promised, but the Holy Spirit hasn't come and Christians have remained powerless to become the loving and holy people they want to be.

Jane - "Does the fact that so many fall short of the ideal make the ideal itself unworthy of pursuit?"

No. But since so many are failing to reach the ideal through faith in Jesus, another approach would be better.

Anonymous said...

pornstudent [nice pen-name, by the way] wrote, "Christian's have asked and depended on the Holy Spirit to help them as Jesus promised, but the Holy Spirit hasn't come and Christians have remained powerless to become the loving and holy people they want to be."

I beg to differ. The Holy Spirit is alive and well in me and countless millions of others. His power is evident in the "faith perfected by good works" that we see in the world.

In the end, Satan and evil will be thoroughly and utterly defeated. You need to choose sides NOW.

crazzzzzy said...

"In the end, Satan and evil will be thoroughly and utterly defeated. You need to choose sides NOW."

YOU need a reality check.

Anonymous said...

crazzzzzy said, "YOU need a reality check."

So you side with Satan, then? I wonder what it was in life that made you so angry at God.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing more hypocritical than an atheist commenting on religious matters. For a group which doesn’t believe in God, they sure spend a great deal of time discussing Him.

Danbo59 said...

Anonymous wrote, "There is nothing more hypocritical than an atheist commenting on religious matters."

Amen, Anonymous, amen!

Anonymous said...

"you're either with me or with satan." herein lies one of the greatest problems with religion. "I am right and you are wrong." The world is black and white.

as long as a religion excludes anyone, it is divisive, and any theology, philosophy or otherwise that divides people and pits them against one another - against the ideal that we are all one...has missed the point entirely.

I think Jesus' main point was LOVE...and if you espouse anything other than this, you ain't got it.

Any time your belief makes you feel superior to another, makes you forget that we are all one - you missed it!

Iztok said...

"...the self-professed atheist who frequents The Mosaic Church, etc."

That was more then a year ago. Things change. I was trying to learn more about it to see what the appeal was. But after some plain old stupidity being uttered at sermons and tons of logical fallacies people were just eating up it was time to cut the losses. Still consider certain people there friends, but I wouldn't bet on them as far as any math/logic or science competition is concerned.

Now in field of mythology, they are well versed.

Iztok said...

"So you side with Satan, then?"

Shhh... don't tell anyone, but Satan isn't real.

Iztok said...

"There is nothing more hypocritical than an atheist commenting on religious matters."

Why would be so? Does one have to be a movie producer to talk about movies?

Anonymous said...

Izzie wrote, "Why would be so? Does one have to be a movie producer to talk about movies?"

No, but you have to believe that movies exist.

Anonymous said...

Religion DOES NOT have a monopoly on hyocrisy.

Everyone is a hypocrite in one form or another. We have all acted in ways contradictory to what we say, or what we believe, or even what we say we believe.

Iztok proves the point when he says that "Someones ideal of "Arian nation" is not one worthy of pursuit for example."

He surely thinks those ideals to be wrong as do I. But he has said in many his post on this blog. that if something is legal then it is okay for someone to pursue it. Using his normal logic, if something is legal and okay, then how can it be wrong. That would be hypocritical thinking

All of us at times try to be or act like someone we're not, and if we try to tell others that we don't ever act that way, then that in and of itself is hypocrisy.

So the next time someone ask you how you are doing and you say, "GREAT" and you are not truley doing so well, then think about who's being a hypocrite.

Iztok said...

You don't have to believe that movie exists. You can actually test it yourself if exists.

On top of that, you don't even have to believe that topic of the movie is real in order to comment on the topic. You can discuss science fiction, can't you? Yet none of us believe characters like the ones in Star Trek exist? In fact we know they don't. Doesn't make discussion any less meaningful.

Iztok said...

"The Holy Spirit is alive and well in me and countless millions of others. His power is evident in the "faith perfected by good works" that we see in the world."

Three arguments (two already covered before):

1. “Revelations” of One’s Own (Personal Testimony, Feelings, “Open Heart”)

Already described above.

2. “Revelations” of Others

Already described above.

3. Altruism

People sometimes say that without a god there would be no altruism, that evolution only rewards selfish behavior. However, it can be argued that there is no such thing as altruism, that people always do what they want to do. If they are only faced with bad choices, then people choose the thing they hate the least. Our choices are based on what gives us (our genes) the best advantage for survival, including raising our reputation in society. “Altruism” towards family members benefits people who share our genes. “Altruism” towards friends benefits people who may someday return the favor. Even “altruism” towards strangers has a basis in evolution. This behavior first evolved in small tribes, where everyone knew each other and a good reputation enhanced one’s survival. It is now hard-wired in our brains as a general mode of conduct. [Thanks to Richard Dawkins for this point.]

pornstudent said...

You don't have to believe movies exist to talk about them. You can comment about how people say a movie has made them more loving, yet they don't act any more loving than those who don't claim to have seen a movie. Nonbelievers can comment on the popularity of the belief in movies and how this belief is causing wars, disease, discrimination, pollution, etc.

Anonymous said...

Sure, the ideal is worth the journey, but too many of these "hypocrites" are very quick to judge others and condemn others outright. They forget the passage about letting the one who is without sin cast the first stone. Maybe if they weren't so worried about forcing their religion on others, we would not all be so interested in their fall. For example, the representative that has made a career out of anti-gay legislation who is caught in a gay-sex sting. I say whoopee - serves him right and he will be judge accordingly.

Anonymous said...

Izotk wrote:

3. Altruism

People sometimes say that without a god there would be no altruism, that evolution only rewards selfish behavior. However, it can be argued that there is no such thing as altruism, that people always do what they want to do. If they are only faced with bad choices, then people choose the thing they hate the least. Our choices are based on what gives us (our genes) the best advantage for survival, including raising our reputation in society. “Altruism” towards family members benefits people who share our genes. “Altruism” towards friends benefits people who may someday return the favor. Even “altruism” towards strangers has a basis in evolution. This behavior first evolved in small tribes, where everyone knew each other and a good reputation enhanced one’s survival. It is now hard-wired in our brains as a general mode of conduct. [Thanks to Richard Dawkins for this point.]

Iztok, if you realy believe that this statement is true, then the post that you haven written in the past about your unconditional love for your daughter would be hypocritical.

Richard Dawkins clearly says that we only put others first to enhance our own survival.

Anonymous said...

Iztok wrote, "Shhh... don't tell anyone, but Satan isn't real."

Look in a mirror, Iztok. He's right there, but he can't win.

Iztok said...

Anonymous: How would my post about unconditional love and this be in contradiction?

It would be perfectly OK to be selfish and love unconditionally.

They are not mutually exclusive terms.

Anonymous said...

I believe in God and Jesus and consider myself a born-again Christian. However, I purposely don't attend a church because I don't feel like being around a bunch of hypocrites who would judge me and my husband for not having children, for not looking like they do, and because I don't want to buy the preacher his next new Lexus. I read the Bible and can worship God at home just as well as I can at a church, where someone else tells me how to live my life as THEY see fit. No thanks!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said, "I read the Bible and can worship God at home just as well as I can at a church...."

No, you can't. The missing element is community.

You cannot cut yourself off from the Community, "the Church" -- which is the Body of Christ -- and expect to remain within the Body of Christ.

Get back to worshipping with others. God doesn't expect you to buy the minister his new Lexus. Only GOd gtells you how you should live your life. He expects you to come together as a people and worship in communion.

pornstudent said...

"No, you can't."
Yes, you can!

Anonymous said...

pornstudent guessed, "Yes, you can!"

For an avowed atheist, you sure do pretend to claim to know a great deal about Christianity. Unfortunately, you are as clueless as you are atheist.

pornstudent said...

LOL. I never claimed to know a great deal about Christianity.

pornstudent said...

Hypocrites judge others about how they worship God, have sex, desire sex, masturbate, cuss, drink, do drugs, enjoy porn, etc. while overlooking what is really important. When Christians came to Christ they fell on their knees begging for God's help. They thought of themselves as defective and deserving of eternal agony. Then, they believe, they were saved and made whole by the grace of God. Compared to the revelation and grace that Christians say they've received, much of what they judge others for is petty. If Christians experienced God as they say they have, why do they care about how others enjoy sex? Can there be a reason that doesn't lessen their religious experience and/or make them hypocritical?

Anonymous said...

"Only GOd gtells you how you should live your life. He expects you to come together as a people and worship in communion."

Really? Does he talk to you? When was the last time anyone actually heard what God had to say? Your just putting the word "God" in there when in reality it is your opinion on how people should live their lives, and you have no right to tell people how to do that or what's right or wrong. People like you are soo annoying. Always using the word "God" to disguise how they think everyone should be. Typical propaganda crap.

Danbo59 said...

Anonymous wrote, "Really? Does he talk to you?"

I don't know about the author, but I know God speaks to me every single day.

He speaks to you, too, Anonymous. You just refuse to hear.

pornstudent said...

People don't hear because they can't hear or there is nothing to be heard, not because they refuse to hear. We don't hear God because he doesn't say anything.

Iztok said...

"You just refuse to hear."

Do you honestly think that? I can honestly say that at minimum in my case your god is a poor communicator. I am not refusing to hear or to accept, I just am not presented with good evidence to accept. You are blaming the victim here.

When I say "I don't believe in god" I sometimes think that people like you actually hear "I deny god" (as in I know there is one but I don't accept it's existence). That is not true, when I say "I don't believe in god" I mean "there is no sufficient credible evidence to convince me god exists".

So if in my eyes there is no sufficient credible evidence why would I be blamed for it instead of someone who is responsible for such evidence? It is not my fault there is no sufficient evidence for god, is it? It is fault of those who need to provide evidence.

Consider jury. It is not the fault of the jury to find insufficient evidence was provided to convict a person, it is the fault of DA that no sufficient evidence was presented. Now if DA didn't have sufficient evidence at the first place, maybe, just maybe it is because no sufficient evidence actually exist or even more, there never was evidence because no such act was committed by the accused at the first place.

So when you guys say "God is talking to me" it sounds to me just the same as when person who is locked in an institution who claims "I hear voices". I don't hear voices not pretending voices don't exist.

Hope this was clear.

the devil isn't real said...

Anonymous wrote, "There is nothing more hypocritical than an atheist commenting on religious matters."

Hypocritical, how so? It's not hypocritical to share one's beliefs with someone else. Just because what I happen to believe (or better yet, don't believe is real) is different than what you believe is not hypocritical...it's just conversation.

To answer someone who posted "to be an atheist you sure think you know a lot about religion." Well, to be honest with you...yes, most people who consider themselves to be atheist are very well versed in the teachings of religion, I would even venture to say I know more about the teachings of Christianity than most people who sit on the front pew every Sunday.

The world has a very skewed view of atheism. Sunday sermons teach that people who don't believe or have faith are nothing but down and dirty sinners who are just put on Earth to do the devil's work. Nothing could be further from the truth. How could I be put on Earth to do the devil's work when I don't even believe a "devil" exists? It sure is hard to take my evil orders from Bealzebub when ol' Beazle' doesn't really exist. The concept of the "devil" is a perfect example, and probably one of the first examples in history, of the classic antagonist. People needed an adversary for "God" and a way to blame the bad things that happened on Earth on him. They needed a scapegoat. What could be a better scapegoat than an evil monster whose only desire is to bring the world down? It's poetic genius at it's finest...but that's all it is...poetic, not real.

I've personally read the Bible from cover to cover many times, and nothing else was more instrumental in bringing up my initial doubts of the validity of all religion than the very book Christianity is based upon. The more I read and the more I became educated in both religious and secular teachings, the more I came to realize that this just isn't the way it happened.

That's my personal viewpoint, and many of you probably don't agree. To that I say, "to each his own." As I posted in the "5 reasons to not be religious" blog, I don't force my opinion, nor have I ever, on anyone. I respect what you believe and that's your own business. Just think twice before looking down on someone else because they may not believe the same as you. By doing that, you're not being a very good Christian.

Have a great day everyone, and thank you Jane for allowing everyone to post on your blog no matter what their beliefs are.