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How Judgment Makes Us Hypocrites

The previous post addressed how the church is to be people of love not judgment, which means that the church is not called to be the moral guardian of the culture. What we often fail to see is the fact that when Christians assume the position of moral guardians, they earn the charge of hypocrisy. All judgment except that of the all-knowing and holy God, involves hypocrisy. Whenever we find some element of worth, significance, and purpose in contrasting ourselves as “good” with others we deem as “evil,” we do so in a self-serving and selective manner.

This is the nature of the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” We use this knowledge to bend the tree to our own advantage, to make ourselves look good while disparaging others. Instead of seeing our own sins as worse than others, we set up a list of sins where our sins are deemed minor while other people’s sins are deemed major.

In other words, we have “dust particles” in our eyes, but at least we don’t have tree trunks like “those people,” which is exactly the opposite from what Jesus taught (Matt 7:3-5). We feed our self-righteousness with this illusory contrast by ascribing ourselves worth at the expense of others. But “the others” we feed off of see the self-serving hypocrisy of the self-righteous and self-serving exercise, even if we don’t

This is illustrated by the outrage many Christians display about various issues related to gay marriage. As Christians argue for “the sanctity of marriage” there are a myriad of their own sins related to marriage that go ignored, specifically the high divorce rate within Christians circles. Even though the Bible says a good deal more about divorce than it does about monogamous gay relationships, “those people” are the supposed problem.

Christians may be divorced and remarried several times; we may be as greedy and as unconcerned about the poor and as gluttonous as others in our culture; we may be as prone to gossip and slander and as blindly prejudiced as others in our culture; we may be more self-righteous and as rude as others in our culture—we may even lack love more than others in our culture. These sins are among the most frequently mentioned sins in the Bible. But at least we are not gay!

Tragically, the self-serving and hypocritical nature of this moral posturing is apparent to nearly everyone—except those who do the posturing. It causes multitudes to want nothing to do with the good news of Jesus. While the church was supposed to be the central means by which people became convinced that Jesus is the “way, truth, and life,” activity like this has made the church into the central reason many are convinced that he is not.

There’s nothing beautiful or attractive about this sort of self-serving, hypocritical behavior. The beauty of the cross and the magnetic quality of Calvary-like love has been smothered in a blanket of self-righteous, self-serving, moralistic posturing.

—Adapted from The Myth of a Christian Nation, pages 138-138

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