what if I’m the hypocrite?


What if it’s me?

What if I’ve always said to love my neighbor as myself but then I intentionally choose some not to love? 

What if I’ve announced my pursuit of the truth and nothing but the truth and then justify why it’s ok to promote falsehoods or fake news?

What if I say “let’s all be tolerant” but then choose to denounce the person who’s intolerant?

What if I vow to respect all life but then prioritize some lives over others?

What if?

What — dare I ask — what if that’s me?

The origin of the word “hypocrite” comes from the Greek word, “hypokritḗs.” The word was commonly used to describe actors on the stage, derived from the words “hypó” — which means “under” — and krínō — which means “judge.”

Hence, by definition, the masculine noun equates to “properly, a judging under, like a performer acting under a mask (i.e. a theater-actor), or (figuratively) a two-faced person; a ‘hypocrite,’ whose profession does not match their practice — i.e. someone who “says one thing but does another.”

I’ll be honest. I don’t hate a lot of things. In fact, I have taught my children that the only things worthy of hatred are, as best discernible, what we know God hates (i.e. haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift to run to evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a person who spreads discord among family).

But sometimes I hate hypocrisy.

I arguably hate it most when I see it in me.

Sometimes, friends, I have said one thing, but done another. Sometimes, I have failed to love another well. Sometimes I’ve been inconsistent. And sometimes I have done something, believed something, or said something contrary to what I say I would think, say, or do.

Dr. Robert Kurzban, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania, published a fascinating piece in 2011, aptly titled: “Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite.” He says:

“The book is really about human nature. It’s about contradictions in human nature. It’s how we can believe two things simultaneously which are mutually contradictory…

I think the way to understand this is to use the example of the smart phone. So the reason that today’s smart phones are so smart is not because they have one killer app; they’re smart because they have a lot of different applications — all of which have really narrow functions — and these functions are bundled together in a phone that allows you to do lots of different things. 

What I argue in the book is that a human mind is very similar to a smart phone. Mechanisms that are designed to do things like cause you to eat good foods and cause you to seek mates and do all the different things that humans do that you can think of, [are each] applications. And the crucial thing about these applications is that because they are simultaneously running in the same head — and they have different jobs — and they’re isolated from each other — often times they can have mutually contradictory information; they can contain contradictions. And by understanding these mechanisms and how they work and how they operate simultaneously — often, without our awareness — we have a much deeper understanding of human nature.”

And so as much as possible, I try to say what I mean and mean what I say. I desire to practice what I preach, so-to-speak. But my sense is that sometimes, I contradict myself. Sometimes I’m not as moral as I think I am. Sometimes, I am actually the hypocrite.

That’s a very humbling reality… and one that prompts me to examine the need to give much more grace to everyone else. 


… giving more grace to everyone else…