Great points in comments and via email (before my email went poof) about my hypocrisy exhaustion.
I’m going to focus on two for now:
…don’t you think we should make a distinction between someone who is honestly striving for holiness and falls versus someone who is just fake? Someone who struggles with sin is certainly different from someone who says everyone should stop driving SUVs and then walks off stage and drives away in an SUV….
Larry Parker wonders the same thing:
Don’t you think there’s a difference between hypocrisy in the public sector and the contradictions we all have (striving to avoid but not always succeeding) in our personal lives?
My answer is that I’m not sure there is a difference. I don’t think someone’s point about the need for energy conservation and a need to cut back on SUVs is diminished to the point of absurdity because he hops in an SUV. To apply that logic would be to say that someone who talks about the importance of healthy food should be ignored because he loved popping french fries. And that is a point Margaret makes:
It is quite possible, common even, to believe a particular behavior is wrong, even while struggling with said behavior. For instance, I have been known to eat an entire bag of Nacho Cheese Doritoes in one sitting, but afterwards, I am disgusted with myself and even more determined to fight against the sin of gluttony. Which doesn’t mean I’ll never eat another bag of Nacho Cheese Doritoes in one sitting.
I think the problem is that we just don’t like dealing with the substance of difficult messages – Paul talks about this regarding our desire to listen to theology that “tickles our ears” rather than dealing with the substance of truth. We don’t want to be challenged to conserve fuel. So we lash out at a contradiction, at hypocrisy. We don’t really want to be confronted with the reality of “two Americas” (one rich, one poor) and so we lash out. We don’t want to be confronted by the indisputable reality that children actually do grow up better in two-parent homes than in single-parent homes and so it is easier to mock those who say they believe such things and then fail.
But we need to be confronted on certain things whether we like or not and whether the messengers are perfect are not.