Hypocrisy Among Christians and how it leads some to question or leave the Christian faith
I have a few other topics or news stories I wanted to blog about today and the other day, but I find myself getting sidetracked to discuss these other issues. Maybe I’ll blog about the rest tomorrow or next weekend.
This topic is (for me anyhow) rather complex. I don’t want to spend a lot of time explaining it, but it’s one I’ve seen crop up recently on other sites or in my personal life, and this will probably be another one of my long posts. Even though I have other things I wanted to do today, like bake a batch of cookies.
Whether Christians like it or not, some Christians, including lifelong Christians such as myself, are either considering leaving the faith, or have done so already, and all because the hypocrisy they see in self professing Christians.
At this, your usual come-back by preachers is to say, “Yes, churches are full of hypocrites, so come join us, you’ll be one more, you’re welcome.”
What they mean – and they think they are being clever about it (but they’re not) – is that everyone on the planet is a hypocrite, including those of us who are fed up by hypocrisy in churches or among Christians. So who are we to judge and reject other hypocrites, since we are also hypocrites?
I take issue with that sort of thinking for a few different reasons.
First of all, I personally try to avoid hypocrisy in my own life, in opinions I hold, or how I live my life.
Hypocrisy and double standards have always driven me nuts in other people, so I have sincerely tried to avoid it in my own life.
I am generally NOT a hypocritical person, I try to stick with what I say I believe in and live by standards (which used to be based on my understanding of the Bible in large part) I expect from others.
If I do hold to two contradictory positions simultaneously on a subject and realize it, I will admit to it and try to get on one side or the other. It’s possible I am hypocritical on a few subjects but haven’t spotted it in myself.
Concerning one topic I discuss here on this blog, fornication? I’ve not had sex yet myself, and I am over 40, so I’m not a hypocrite on this particular topic.
In broader terms, I think Christians miss the boat when addressing this objection to the faith.
Not A Demand For Perfection
When I told one of my Christian friends about these things, she retorted, “You cannot expect all Christians to be perfect ALL THE TIME.”
I replied: “I do not expect all Christians to achieve perfection. Even when I was still 100% on board with Christianity, I never expected full perfection from Christians, not in others. I understand that sanctification is a life long process in earthly life but will never be fully realized until the afterlife.”
What I have seen over my life are many people who profess Christ who are either
1. willfully ignorant about his teachings, or,
2. the ones who know dang well what the Bible says on ethics but who choose to live any way they want to anyhow.
As for group one. It’s astounding, really, the ignorance. Many Christians no longer read the Bible for themselves at all, and thanks to the seeker friendly idiot preachers.
Average Christians won’t hear the Bible quoted or explained if they go to church, because most of these Seeker Friendly con artist preachers never or rarely quote from the Bible; their sermons are more peppy, jokey, self-help stand up comedy routines based on their own opinions about life more than anything.
So, you have a bunch of Christians who don’t study their own faith at all. If their preacher is not going to quote the Bible to them at church, they can certainly go home, pick up a copy of the Bible, and read it for themselves. But they choose not to. They could damn well pick up a Bible to find out what God says about topic “X” but they choose not to learn what God says or thinks.
Watch the Christian show 700 Club sometime. On that show, Pat Robertson or his son Gordon take questions from viewers.
You can tell from the questions this show gets that people (and these are Christians who are sending this show mail) are astoundingly ignorant about the Bible… they ask Pat questions they should already know the answers to if they have bothered to read the Bible for themselves. Some of their questions involve some of the most BASIC teachings of the Christian faith.
I do not demand total perfection from believers.
What I do want and would expect to see is regularity or consistency and honest effort. And it seems to me that is what the New Testament lays out as a basic barometer of testing whether or not someone has actually converted or not.
I also take into account age and life experience on all this.
I would not expect an ex gang-member, cocaine-addicted guy who becomes a Christian at the age of 23 to be at the same level of morality and biblical understanding as some dude who is 73 who became “saved” when he was ten years old and who grew up in a stable family.
I would expect the 73 year old guy to have more knowledge and better morals than the 23 year old who just accepted Jesus last week after a life of snorting cocaine and robbing little old ladies. I do even factor in all those things.
If you are a Christian, do you regularly try to live by the teachings of Christ and more or less do so? Okay, great, that’s what I’m looking for.
I’m not asking you to be an exact clone of Jesus Himself, since you still have a sin nature to contend with, but I should NOT expect to find you in habitual, on-going sin ten years after you accepted Christ.
Back when I was a total Christian, I got angry at people in traffic sometimes.
One time, I gave one rude a-hole in a truck next to me on the road the “middle finger.” That was one incident from over 20 years of driving my car. The rest of the time, I did NOT flip people off and was assertive behind the wheel, but not a rude jerk. I’m fine with stuff like that. I understand the occasional lapse, and in a minor area.
However, many Christians today are not being occasional on minor sins like that. They are consistently sinning, and on top of the consistency, they are excusing and justifying their sin and broad categories of sin, such as hetero fornication or homosexual sexual acts.
I don’t even mean to limit that failure to live out the faith to individuals only. The hypocrisy is on a wider scale, it’s on a community- wide level.
Look at my blog here. I have several blog posts showing how the Bible condemns the act of pre-marital sex and supports virginity for adult singles, but that many Christians today, not just the liberals, but shockingly, conservatives as well, have been in this church- wide or denominational- wide trend to rationalize away the sin of pre-marital sex and to water down the importance of virginity. I see it all over their blogs, forums, and in magazines and in TV preaching.
These guys even go a step further and have been criticizing virginity and celibacy!
They smear adult singles, and adult virgins / celibates. They say that adult virgins are “prideful” or “turning virginity into an idol.” These buffoons offer no support of singles or sexual purity and attack both the people and the lifestyle.
They are not even attempting to defend or teach Biblical Sexual Ethics 101.
Staying a virgin until marriage is BASIC CHRISTIAN SEXUAL ETHICS.
The biblical principle that staying a virgin until marriage is expected of all believers is not advanced sexual ethics, like, what does one do with a person born with both sets of genitals, should such a person live as a male or female? It’s not on that level at all.
When one tries to discuss, with other Christians, one’s reasons for drifting out to the sea of agnosticism, one will be told that one should look to Jesus only and discount the actions of people who claim Christ.
To a degree, I kind of understand where they are coming from, in that, you need to look at Jesus himself and his teachings to determine their validity or truthfulness, rather than hold him responsible for the idiocy of those who claim his name.
I am sympathetic with that view to an extent.
However. Even the Bible, in the New Testament tells Christians that Non-Christians will judge them based on their actions, so you would think Christians would be a little more careful to follow through on this, and not chide people for saying, “I am thinking of leaving the faith due to all the crummy behavior by Christians.”
Jesus said ‘men shall know you are mine by the love you show to one another.’
The book of James, I believe, contains several admonishments to not just READ the word but GO DO WHAT IT SAYS. Do not just tell a hungry, cold man, “Jesus loves you, be filled and warm,” but give that man a coat and a sandwich.
Jesus asked people (paraphrasing), “Why do you call me “Lord, Lord” but do not do what I say.”
Yeah, really, Jesus, tell me about it! Why do so many claim to follow you but make no effort to follow even your most basic of teachings?
There is some other Bible verse, maybe from the Old Testament?, that says that the “Gentiles speak ill of God on account of the bad deeds of the believers.” Something like that.
I know most Christians are very uncomfortable with confronting this, and they want to divorce their behavior from intellectual things and the truth claims of the faith, but even the Bible they claim to believe in teaches that people WILL base opinions and draw conclusions about God and Jesus based upon how they behave and treat other people! That is just a fact of life.
One sees it all the time on blogs and forums for atheists. Some of those atheists say they are ex-Christians. Now in comment boxes on atheist forums, they repeatedly point out the sins of self-professing believers.
I don’t feel like going on at length about this next point, but briefly, most churches do NOT protect child molestation victims or spousal abuse victims, but actually blame these poor people for the abuse and often SIDE WITH THE ABUSERS!
Why would anyone want to be part of a faith that practices this evil, covers it up, or blames the victims?
And then the idiots who practice this say they are doing so based upon their knowledge of the Bible to boot! So they smear God’s name and reputation on top of everything else.
These sorts of Christians actually paint this picture of a God who is fine and dandy with a church protecting abusers but victim-blaming the abuser’s targets, and this is so backwards and twisted.
I apologize I cannot articulate this very well, but telling people such as myself to only look to Christ but ignore the misdeeds being done in his name is not a satisfactory response.
I find it hard to divorce the one from the other.
Consider radical Muslims, for instance. I don’t like Islam.
Many of its adherents kill people who will not covert to their faith. Some Muslims kill Muslims of other factions, eg, Sunni Vs Shia. The Muslims blowing people up claim they get these ideas from their God and from their religious texts (the Hadith and Koran).
But then your apologists come along and tell us, no, we should not hold all of Islam accountable for this.
Maybe or maybe not, but if your Allah and Koran are influencing so many to set fire on cars in cities, decapitate people for refusing to convert, and for drawing cartoon pictures of your prophet, or whatever else, I can’t help but see a cause and effect there.
I cannot help but judge the entire religion based upon the actions of its followers in the case of Islam, so why do Christians expect me to do no less with Christianity?
Islam does not, by and large, seem to produce kindness in the hearts of most of its followers.
I do realize the Christian faith has done some good in the world. Christians over the centuries have built hospitals, orphanages, and so on. I am not a radical atheist who sits around blaming Christianity or theism in general for every evil or ill in the world.
I used to work at an office where I came in late a few times. Bear with me, because this is relevant to the point of the post.
The reason I began slipping on punctuality? I was being harassed daily or weekly by one boss there, the Bitch Boss.
I dreaded coming in to work each day, because I knew I was going to likely face harassment. As a result, I dragged my tail getting ready for work each day.
Bitch Boss would ride my ass about me coming in late, make little catty comments about my tardiness, and hint about getting me fired – never mind she was the reason I was coming in late.
She also sent me snotty e-mails criticizing my weekly status reports over the most trivial things.
She would request I re-send her the entire report, but this time, in Arial font at size 14 instead of Times at 12. Stupid crap like that.
I began to suspect she was singling me out for this special treatment, so I quietly asked around the office. I approached different co-workers and asked them if they were ever late, did they ever turn in status reports typed in Arial font, etc., and if so, did Bitch Boss come down on them?
They all said, yeah, they were late all the time (more than I was), they used Arial constantly in the reports they sent to the Bitch Boss, but Bitch Boss never chewed them out about any of that.
So. I was being held to a different set of rules than my co-workers.
My co-workers, who were making the same mistakes as I was (or in some cases much worse – one guy kept skipping ENTIRE DAYS of the job and never had an excuse, never phoned in ahead of time to inform the boss he would not be in that day), but I was the ONLY one Bitch Boss would reprimand for any of these infractions.
Finding out that my co-workers were not being punished in an equal way by one of the bosses for the same mistakes sapped me of any resolve to do better.
I had no motivation for that job when I found out the rules were different for different people, and the punishments differed for breaking the same rules. Different staff were being held to different standards by the same boss.
This is the same thing I see in Christendom, but in reverse.
Here I am, sincerely living out Christian ethics, but churches either ignore me or shun me. God seems missing in action, too. I don’t hear from him.
Regarding sexual ethics, I have surpassed many other Christians in this area, this is merely an observation, not a bragging point.
I am celibate. But I see churches slobbering over with devotion to give literal presents (gift cards, money) to fornicators, such as single women who get knocked up outside of marriage.
Some churches give free weddings to couples in their pews who have been shacked up for five, ten years. (For example, and this is an off site link, (Link): Church Offers Cohabiting Couples ‘Free Wedding Day’).
I understand wanting to help people, but Christians are inconsistent on this point.
They will shower the single teen mother (she fornicated, which the Bible says is a sin, remember) with presents, pay her rent for her, buy her six months worth of diapers for the baby, but then totally ignore for instance, the 56 year old woman who is caring for her husband who has dementia.
Churches won’t help her care for her spouse, or mow her lawn, or pay his medical bills.
If you are single, forget about getting help from the church if you fall on hard times. You will be told to “serve, not be served” if you ask for help.
If, however, you SIN, (like shack up with a lover, or have sex before marriage and get pregnant), Christians will break down you door to throw free money at you, buy you food, give you free weddings, etc etc.
Okay. What do the people who fall on hard times who are NOT breaking the rules get from churches or Christians? Usually, nothing but lectures: “You should go to church to serve, not be served.”
Where is my incentive to keep being good when I am continually ignored, AND I see churches (and it looks like God) rewarding people for sinning?
I have this one Christian friend, Becky, who was just a little while ago, absolutely ripping my head off over the fact I may leave the Christian faith.
This friend and I have been internet buddies for over seven years. During that time, I have supported her when she was sick, unemployed, whatever. I would speak words of encouragement to her, but mostly just listen without judging while she ranted.
She also became agnostic about 2 or 3 years ago, and I supported her during that (I was a Christian at that point).
I did not shame her, run her down, or try to lecture her into staying a Christian. I was patient with Becky.
Becky later decided to stay a Christian. So she is a Christian now.
Despite the fact I’ve never been rude to Becky, and that I’ve never said hateful things about Christians, she was lying about me, in a conversation we were having.
She was saying I am constantly bad mouthing Christians, which is not true. I’ve only discussed my feelings with her on this issue maybe 3 or 4 times over a two year period, and I was never condemning or hateful towards Christians.
She told me that wanting to leave the faith over Christians being hypocrites is not a good enough reason, I should have brainy reasons for wanting to leave.
I disagree with that position, see this post:
- (Link): No Man’s Land – Between Agnosticism and Christianity / Also: It’s Emotional Not Intellectual (PART 1)
At any rate, Becky was being incredibly rude, dismissive of my feelings and reasons, and hateful towards me in that discussion. I was astounded by her behavior.
The irony did not escape me either. She is claiming she is still a Christian, yet her behavior towards me was anything but Christ-like.
I asked her if she believes in the Bible, I assume yes.
I said, well, your Bible tells you to show kindness and patience towards others, to teach the truth in love, and to treat others how you wish to be treated, and in the midst of this, you are acting in the complete opposite way from all this.
I pointed out to her that her treating me like trash is not going to win me back to the faith, I don’t care how sound the intellectual arguments are.
You can have the greatest apologetic arguments for Jesus and the Bible, but if you are calling me all sorts of names and being hateful to me, don’t expect me to be swayed.
Even Paul said, in 1 Corinthians 13,
- If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
- If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
- And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.…
Jesus can be true and the Bible can be true all day long, but if the person selling Jesus and the Bible to me is being an a-hole, I want no part in Jesus or the Bible. Why cannot more Christians accept this?
But instead, they keep telling me and those like me we need to not let our views about Jesus be subjected to what Christians say or do.
Ironically, this atheist gets it, in his piece defending atheism, from (Link): The Case Against In Your Face Atheism
- by S Newmann
- An atheist counsels his fellow non-believers on how not to talk to people of faith.
- When I began my blog on the Atheist Channel of Patheos, I thought I’d be able to show how someone can live a meaningful life without religious belief. Instead, I spend much of my time criticizing my fellow atheists.
- While I agree with the goal of making atheism a socially and politically acceptable movement, there is a type of “firebrand atheism” that I believe is hindering its progress.
- …As the authors wrote in the study: “Because they are liked by a disproportionate number of people, lovable fools can bridge gaps between diverse groups that might not otherwise interact.” That likeability factor is exactly what is needed in order to improve atheism’s image—and shift the Overton Window.
- The authors also say that since people are more likely to listen to likeable colleagues, we should “have widely liked individuals serve as evangelists for important change initiatives.”
I don’t think that only lovable fools should be the ones working for change, just that they should be the majority—they should be the voices that get the most media coverage.
- I realize that this is going to be a challenge, especially with the Bill O’Reillys of the world, but I think the case made here is reason enough to cut back on an approach that relies on ridicule and contempt for others’ sense of belief and identity.
- It undermines the kind of self-affirmation that is needed for sincere believers to be open to changing their beliefs—or at least be more accepting of atheism.
- In other words, don’t be a jerk, competent or otherwise. Also realize that you don’t have to be a lovable fool—just focus on the lovable part.
Christians should follow that advice too, which is even funnier, considering it’s already discussed in the Bible where Jesus says, “do unto others,” and Paul says in numerous places to speak to people with love.
I could not get over that Becky was telling me that how Christians behave or don’t behave is not a good enough reason for anyone to consider to leave the faith, and she was behaving TERRIBLY while conveying this. She really blew a fuse and was acting infuriated. She was being very hateful towards me.
I asked her if her Bible had this in it, Gal 5,
- 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Because I said for someone who claims she is all up into this stuff, she is not behaving like it, which is part of my point. If Christians aren’t going to even TRY to follow what their own book tells them to do, why should I any longer?
What is the point, if, out of say, 100 Christians, only myself or maybe only one other guy, is bothering to abide by any of the faith? If the other 98 or 99 are just living life any old way they please, why should I not? I don’t see the 99 being struck by lightening or anything.
I used to serve God just out of love. But the older I get, I need incentives and/or solid reasons.
Getting a warm and fuzzy feeling being good and virtuous isn’t doing it for me anymore.
I’ve seen years and years of being good and living for God actually hold me back in life (long story which I shall omit), and I’ve not been rewarded for it in this life… and telling me to think of eternity doesn’t do it, sorry.
Then I look about and see all the drug sniffing, lying, greedy, adultering preachers and average joe Christians not pay any penalties for their sins, expect for maybe some jail time if they get caught, but thats about it.
ALL SIN IS NOT EQUAL
And perhaps a topic for another post? Christians who equate all sin. That drives me bonkers.
Many Christians, especially the Calvinists and Reformed guys, try to make, for example, stealing a pad of Post-It notes from your job, on the same level of evil as that 60 year old guy who kidnapped and raped that little 8 year old girl and buried her alive in a pit (she died).
As far as the topic of sexual purity goes, one which I blog about on a frequent basis, I want to barf when I see Christians say fornication is no biggie.
Christian putz and author Tim Challies even declared that “all fornicators are virgins now” on his blog.
As if fornicating is no more serious, than say, running through a red light.
As if remaining celibate past your 20s is no more an accomplishment than say, putting your dirty towel in the laundry hamper.
Seriously, the Calvinist pukes in particular are into warped reasoning like this (but other Christians of other theological bents also fail prey to this at times):
- Hey, we’re all sinners! That guy who fondled and groped a three year old girl in church, aw, shucks, who are you to call him out, you sinner you, when you littered yesterday, when you threw your empty coffee cup on the grass in the park?
- Hey man, littering is just as bad an affront to God as a man molesting a toddler.
- We all deserve God’s wrath, you who litter are just as awful as grown men who rape kids.
We can get into this business of how we are all sinners, but it does not follow that God weighs all sin equally. Any sin can get you to Hell, but it does not follow that God views child rape as equal to Jaywalking.
For example, in the Old Testament, God clearly recognized that it’s worse or more evil for a person to intentionally murder another person than to do so accidentally, from Deut 19:
- “Now this is the case of the manslayer who may flee there and live: when he kills his friend unintentionally, not hating him previously–
- as when a man goes into the forest with his friend to cut wood, and his hand swings the axe to cut down the tree, and the iron head slips off the handle and strikes his friend so that he dies– he may flee to one of these cities and live;
- otherwise the avenger of blood might pursue the manslayer in the heat of his anger, and overtake him, because the way is long, and take his life, though he was not deserving of death, since he had not hated him previously.…
God obviously differentiates in degree of sin and evil, so I cannot figure out why some Christian putzes want to equivocate on sin.
It does not follow that because I stole a ball point pen from my local bank once 15 year ago this makes me as dangerous, twisted, perverse, or evil as some guy like Hitler who sent millions of people to the gas chambers because they were Jewish, mentally disabled, or what have you. To equate the two actions is disgusting and not biblical.
Anyway, Christians being hypocrites is a perfectly fine, valid reason to question the faith and God.
Christians don’t like it, but there it is.
I’m not alone. A lot of people have left the faith because they were not helped by Christians, or were victimized by churches. I’ve seen their comments on other forums and blogs the last few years.
Your behavior is a reflection of your truth claims. You cannot fully expect everyone to buy your truth claims if they have not produced a lasting, significant change in your life, and if you are not even attempting to live them yourself.
Your outward behavior also reflects your heart,
- 17 After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. 18 “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them?
- 19 For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)
20 He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. 21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.23 All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”
If you are wondering who made those comments, visit this page to find out.
I recently found this comment, from a lady, Denise, who used to go to Mars Hill Church or who hung out with Christians from that church (Link):
- comment by Denise
- Recent example:
A friend, El, (EL-pseudo initials) who still goes to MH [Mars Hill] ABQ “North Church”, attended a holiday party for his CG group.
- This person has questions re MH but doesn’t have it all figured out just yet…When EL arrived he wasn’t planning to drink that night just to be safe going home.
- When EL arrived everyone else was already drinking pretty heavily… and when he said he wasn’t going to drink, a cg member asked, “If you aren’t going to drink w/ us how are you going to have fun?” He didn’t answer…
- He said people were using the F word.
- He stayed awhile and during that time someone got frustrated because several folks w/ a little guilt owned up to drinking too much…
- and the person said, “I get sick of you folks saying that your drinking too much…”
- My friend went on home and later confided that it was fairly disillusioning; that the group [of Christians from the church] was no different than the folks he had left coming out of the world and partying with.
- Someone will say I’m gossiping here: No I’m not…I’m issuing a warning. It’s NOT “all about Jesus…”
- It deeply grieves me for these young people. They think this is what Jesus is all about… A little Jesus w/ some sangria and tequila and a whole lot of “community” ?
Yep. When Christians are living just like your average Non-Christians (I have actually come across and read about Non Christians who have better morals than some self-professing Christians), it makes you doubt the faith.
Given examples like that, the Christian faith apparently does little to nothing to truly change a person, so why should anyone bother with it to start, or stick with it?
If you are a Christian, your behavior does matter, and it does factor into how other people judge Jesus, the Bible, the faith, and if the faith is worth following or not.
Also, how you treat people does matter…
My friend Becky who was cussing me out over all this (for real, she was telling me to “F*ck off,” or “Fxck you,” and so forth, but I was not using that sort of language or tone with her, and she claims to be a Christian!), is not going to win people over to your side. Acting in that manner is going to push me away even more, not convince me to hold on and hang in.
But this is a point that keeps falling on deaf ears. I’ve found even the nicest of Christian people don’t want to accept it. They just want you to keep “looking to Jesus.”
Why do I want to keep “looking to Jesus” when others who claim his name act like such a-holes?
So far, I still have respect for Jesus- but since believing in him has no advantages in this life that I can determine, or following Jesus causes people to treat others like trash, why bother?
Related posts on this blog:
Link): Baptist missionary and husband murders wife on Valentine’s Day so he could be with his mistress – Tell me again why Christian women should only date or marry Christians when garbage like this keeps happening?
(Link): Pastor charged in wife’s murder was headed to Europe to marry boyfriend, prosecutor says – Single Xtian Ladies: Kick that Be Equally Yoked Teaching to the Curb! Also: Marriage and Parenthood do not make people more godly or mature or loving or ethical