Article > Christians & Hypocrisy - FAQ
Description :: Abstraction of hypocrisy, application to Christianity, distinct lack of resolution, and some bits about something else
The most frequent things I see people failing to digest regarding Christianity (as I see it, largely my own opinions), presented as a Q&A:

Q: Why do Christians get to pick and choose what rules to follow? The Bible has a lot of rules regarding sacrificing animals, sitting on rags during menstruation (and many other things that belittle women), eating pork, etc. etc., yet you don't see anyone preaching the virtues of those things. What gives?

A: Most of the examples like this that you hear given are rules that come from the Old Testament. The whole reason for the sacrifice of Jesus was to establish a new covenant between God and man. Man had taken the rules to an extreme, valuing the letter of the law over the intent of the law, undermining the religion they sought to enforce. The new covenant established a small set of ten rules, which could further be condensed to two (love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, strength; and love your neighbor as you love yourself). In doing so, it abolished most of those other rules, for instance, the blood of Jesus taking the place of the blood of livestock and fowl and such that were previously required to atone for sin.

Q: Okay, but I thought God was the Rock of the Ages, constant and unchanging. Why so fickle then?

A: I don't see it as a change so much. I think God deliberately set out a set of rules he knew we couldn't live up to to show us (rather than just telling us) that we can't do it on our own. It was more effective to let us struggle and fail for a while, to make the sacrifice of his Son have that much more impact. It also let God show both sides of his character, the angry, jealous, and wrathful; as well as gracious, merciful, and benevolent. They're not two Gods, but two sides of the same coin. God loves you infinitely, but you still need a healthy fear of Him as well--after all, He'll still reject you from Heaven if you don't accept the covenant through Jesus that he's made available to everyone. He hasn't changed; it's just character development. :)

Old stuff to clean up/delete...

I feel like ranting. I've heard it expressed on multiple occasions, a couple of them recently, by agnostics and athiests that the reason they aren't Christians is that Christians don't practice what they preach. Bull.

Let's get a little abstract for a moment. Hypocrisy seems to be defined as action incongruent with speech (albeit speech -is- an action). Okay, I can deal with that. However, you can't reverse engineer a person's beliefs from either of these things. You can't say that Christians are supposed to do X, yet this person doesn't, therefore said person is not a Christian. You also can't say that said person professes Christianity and does X, therefore all Christians must do X. I digress. My point is that at the most basic level, you have three interrelated factors: There is thought, there is action, and there is speech. Speech is an action, but it is in the middle, an action through which thought becomes manifest. Speech is second hand though; i.e., a person might not be able to accurately put what he or she believes into words, or might not be able to do so fully. Saying then that that person's actions are incongruent with his or her beliefs is fallacious. Saying that that person is a hypocrite, i.e. that their actions are incongruent with their said beliefs, is fine. But consider the situation in which a person professes Christianity but then does not actuate the Christian model found in the Bible. You cannot infer that either this person is not Christian or that all Christians are hypocrites. You don't know if this person really believes in Christianity--they say they do, but they don't act like it. Two solutions now logically come to mind. Either they are not a Christian (but unfortunately there is no direct way of analyzing their beliefs), or they are a Christian. How? Be careful not to throw around "hypocrite" too liberally. Think for a moment what that incongruence between "talk" and "walk" really means. The "Christian walk" as desribed in the Bible includes imperfection--it already accounts for sinning and forgiveness. To say that a person does not actuate Christianity because he or she does not follow every rule every time is simply not true. Everybody makes mistakes. If you think it would be so easy to follow the rules, you try it. People mock what they do not understand, I hear. A Christian is suddenly a hypocrite because he doesn't act as Jesus would have him or her act, at all times? Did you miss the part where Jesus was perfect and we weren't? Seriously, people, c'mon now.

I think I'll do a little mini-rant on details too, since it's been mentioned on PseudoTheos recently. Unordained, a professed non-Christian suggested that maybe following the intent of the law was more important than following every detail in the word of the law. The other guy, a professed Christian, argued that detail is very much important. I, a professed Christian, lean more towards Unordained's view. Why? In many encounters Jesus had with supposed religious leaders, he condemed them for making the rules more important than the underlying theme. When he and his disciples picked wheat from a field they were passing and ate as they walked, people criticized him for working on the Sabbath, which He decried. When Jesus was asked the most important commandment, he said it was to love the Lord your God with your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and the second was like it--love your neighbor as you love yourself. If you had to boil down all of the rules into two, those two are love God and love others. That theme carries throughout Jesus' life. The rules were getting in the way of the basic intent they were established to enforce. Here, the details are less important than the overarching theme they encompass. The rules weren't ever intended to be something for you to go beat someone over the head with when (you perceive that) they screw up. They were intended to sketch out in more detail what "love God, love others" means, exactly. Yet that's not what they gets used for mostly, then or now.

Stuff. In a bucket. I go to sleep now.

You feelin' me? Well stop it; I'm not like that.