Note: Through the month of March I have been pondering several different concepts, one about the secular world and the other about the Christian world. Over the course of those musings, I began to realize that these seemingly unrelated concepts were united by the hypocrisy that they manifest. So I have decided to take several articles to write out some of those thoughts, first dealing with the secular aspect before moving into some thoughts about hypocrisy by professing Christians, and finally addressing how we overcome such hypocrisy.
Being informed by a biblical worldview, the convictions held by Christians are firmly rooted in an unchangeable truth that generates conflict with the world. It is not uncommon to be on the receiving end of accusation and censure as a result of those convictions. Like many other people, I can sometimes open up my messages to find a note of condemnation from family or friends, ranging from a denouncement of my character to a renunciation of contact. Such drama highlights the conflict of a culture in chaos.
That current conflict is propagated by the culture’s consistent wrestling with the coexistence of conviction and condemnation. The modern mentality seeks to grant permission to people to hold to whatever position they deem appropriate. However, while granting the people permission to maintain convictions, the same mentality seeks to justify the position that others cannot be condemned for their convictions. The teaching to embrace both generates a conflict between two values that are not able to coexist because to embrace one necessitates the rejection of the other.
The media, through its editorial columns, ongoing advertisements, and propaganda promoting programs indoctrinates people with the concepts of ‘be you,’ ‘do not be influenced by others,’ ‘fight for what you believe in,’ and ‘go change the world.’ Yet, at the same time indicates that to condemn others for their belief is morally inappropriate and instead they must accept an attitude of tolerance and passivity. The failure to see the discord between these two positions is not merely a deterioration of logic, but points to something greater.
At some point in our history society fabricated a disassociation between belief and behavior. One is entitled to those convictions as long as they do not act upon them. Not only does this lead to the inability to comprehend how society exists in such a state of hostility and friction, but it goes further. If one can have convictions, but not act upon them, it generates a hypocritical society that says one thing and does another, which leads to greater problems.
Hypocrisy has the tendency to generate ongoing distrust between individuals because actions and words do not match leading a person to conclude the person will not do as they say. Distrust leads to an inward resentment and dissatisfaction and eventually, those will be manifested by an outward anger.
Ultimately, while trying to minimize conflict through the promotion of tolerance and ‘development’ of meaningful relationships, the result is more conflict and the destruction of meaningful relationships. Hypocrisy is not merely a demonstration of behavior but has enveloped itself into society so much that it has become a very part of the nature of the world in which we live.
The story doesn’t end with these thoughts. Here I have offered a simple diagnosis, but a diagnosis is meaningless without treatment. So come back next week as we look at some other details before moving into the treatment phase of the disease.
Photo “The Egg” courtesy of user Shaojin Alitano Tio and Flickr.