Hypocrisy is the charge frequently claimed to be the reason why many decide to abandon regular Church attendance or to abandon organized religion altogether. Or more pointedly, to belittle those in the faith who make mistakes or don't live up to perceived standards.
What follows from Vic Biorseth, though dated, is a good related read:
Hypocrisy may be among the easiest charges any American can let fly at another, and get away with it, even when the charge is untrue. For many, hypocrisy has become the replacement red-letter for sin. It is deemed, in many circles, that actual sin is less sinful than the supposed “hypocrisy” of those who condemn sin, and yet still sin. If you look around you will see that this is true on many levels, and that quite frequently the person who calls someone else, or some other group hypocritical is frequently a fairly serious sinner of some sort, but who seeks to gain a higher, elitist, arrogant and condescending position over whomever he is calling hypocritical.
Regular church goers, for instance, are considered by some non-church goers to be hypocrites, because they go to church regularly, and yet their human imperfections remain visible to their accusers. “At least I don’t pretend to be a good Christian” say this level of the masters of hypocrisy. Another way of saying that same sentence is “I am not a good Christian, and the ones who go to church are not much better.” Who’s the real hypocrite here? Would it not be more honest to simply say “I am no Christian and I ignore Christian rules of conduct.?” But, you see, it sounds better, and it feels better, to lower others in the estimation of the world, and thus raise yourself in the estimation of the world.
At another level, among the newer Protestant “denominations” of Christianity are those that like to call themselves non-denominational. Some Christians even go so far as to loudly proclaim themselves to be”non-church affiliated,” as if that were a good thing to be. What it actually means is that these “Christians” are not going to be bound by any rules established by any church, and therefore, they can make up their own moral code of conduct. Or, even worse, each “member” makes up his own personal morality. It’s very easy to live within the rules when you are the one who makes them up.
So a self-interested morality is a short-term, purely survival-mode guide for an individual. But man is a social animal, and if he wants a better long-term morality for something more than temporary survival, then he needs a non-self-centered set of rules of conduct, if he wants to ever get out of survival mode and prosper. And this is just discussing theworldly necessity for rules that originate outside of ourselves. There is still the immortal soul to consider.
What about God?
Look at history for the story of what happened whenever Western man abandoned God and His law, and what the consequences were. What is often most irksome to me is how many detractors of Christianity refer to how Christianity, or, Christian Society, committed the many atrocities of the 20th century. But the perpetrators were not Christians; they were Marxists, and atheists. They rejected Jesus Christ, and God, and religion in general. Mussolini. Hitler. Stalin. These were certainly among the greatest mass-murderers and brutal conquerors in all of history. They were no Christians, they were atheists; - they rejected Christianity andturned away from it. And we can still see the results.
Is it time for you to come back to church, or are you perfect? Maybe all those church-goers aren’t perfect, but then, maybe they go to church regularly in the effort to become more perfect. In becoming more perfect, maybe they help our culture to become more perfect. Where are you in all of this? How do you view the rest of us? And, most importantly –
… what about God?
It's imperative that we who publicly profess faith in God [strive to*] live lives that withstand scrutiny but it's as necessary to acknowledge that our sinful natures will inevitably lead to occasionally falling short.
Those who are quick to judge our hypocrisy should, upon further reflection and deeper thought, see how convenient it is to use those faults as excuses from seeing, and perhaps more importantly, dealing, with their own shortcomings.
God's mercy on all of us.