How to Become a Hypocrite

So you want to be a hypocrite … If you believe the gospel, you’re at a disadvantage. You may not ever achieve the elite-level hypocrisy we find in Matthew 23, which probably requires a Pharisee-like depth of unbelief. But don’t be discouraged. Even believers can achieve several forms of high-quality hypocrisy.

Since all humans lapse into hypocrisy from time to time without even trying, I’m confident that, with just a little work, even you can achieve a noticeable level of expertise.

Here’s how.

1. Get very comfortable with inconsistency.

Hypocrisy is more than inconsistency. True, in Matthew 23:3 Jesus faults the Pharisees because “they preach, but do not practice.” But consider the inconsistencies of Jesus’ hand-picked twelve. They were not consistently believing (Matt. 17:20, 14:31; John 20:25), or consistently compassionate (Matt. 19:13). They were certainly not consistently humble! (Luke 22:24, Matt. 26:33). But Jesus never called them hypocrites.

So, though it’s common practice to cherry pick perceived inconsistencies in others’ lives and call it hypocrisy, you won’t achieve the real thing unless you’re aware of your inconsistencies and get very good at rationalizing them away — maybe even coming to see them as virtues (1 Cor. 5:2).

2. Judge others by a higher standard than you judge yourself.

They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. (ESV, Matt. 23:4)

5803 reads

A Brief Interruption: Reflections on an Outing


This week the media have been carrying the report of an anti-gay pastor who has been “outed” as a closet homosexual. A conservative Lutheran, the minister had been vocal in his opposition to the ELCA’s decision to ordain openly homosexual ministers. He is now being held up to public shame as a person who experiences same-sex attractions.

According to the publishers of a homosexually-oriented magazine, this pastor has been attending a twelve-step program for men who are trying to live celibate lives while experiencing homosexual attractions. The publishers commissioned a reporter to lie his way into the group. The magazine then published several admissions that the pastor is supposed to have made while under what he imagined to be the confidentiality of the program.

The pastor is now being denounced as a hypocrite both by those who are pro-homosexuality and those who are anti-Christianity. His ministry is in jeopardy. Most people seem to think that he is getting exactly what he deserves.

As of this writing, no one has alleged that the pastor ever actually had a sexual relationship with another man. No one has documented an inconsistency between the man’s profession and his conduct. So far, the case is very different from that of Ted Haggard, the president of the National Association of Evangelicals who stepped down from his post after being accused of a relationship with a homosexual prostitute.

The purpose of this essay is not to determine the guilt or innocence of the pastor in question. Indeed, the essay will name neither the accused pastor nor the publication that has accused him. The episode does, however, contain certain lessons that Christians need to learn.

26367 reads