Last week I posted this question: “Does Sin Negate the Christian Faith?”
It was in response to the considerable media coverage about the family of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and the revelation that their son, Josh, was guilty of “inappropriate touching” about 12 years ago.
My post was very clear that I was not condoning Josh Duggar’s sinful behavior when he was a teenager. Neither was I attempting to pass judgment on the response of the Duggars, nor to defend them. . My post had one fundamental point: Sin in the life of a Believer does not invalidate the Bible teaching on morality, nullify the Truth, or negate the Christian Faith.
However, the post elicited many responses charging the Duggars with hypocrisy. The reasoning in most cases went like this. Jim Bob, Michelle and Josh have been outspoken against abortion, homosexuality, and same-sex marriage. Yet, Josh was guilt of child molestation. So, they have no right to condemn anyone else. To do so makes them hypocrites.
Is that a fair and accurate charge?
Meaning and Usage
The Bible word, “hypocrite” literally means “an actor, a stage player.” In the Greco-Roman world it referred to actors who wore masks on stage as they played a role.
Hypocrite is used 17 times in the New Testament, all by Jesus, to expose religious pretense. Jesus condemned those who pretended to be righteousness, when their hearts were impure, their motives selfish and their lives unholy.
What Jesus said about Hypocrisy
In Matthew 6:1-16, Jesus warns against engaging in righteous acts just to receive the applause and accolades of others. One may do good, but do it for the wrong reason. He gives three examples.
(1) Don’t be a hypocrite in your giving by making a big show just to be seen by others and to receive their praise.
(2) Don’t be a hypocrite in your prayers by offering long, repetitious and formalized prayers for public praise.
(3) Don’t engage in fasting so others will be impressed with your piety.
In Matthew 23, Jesus delivered a scathing denunciation against the Pharisees, calling them hypocrites 8 times. In each case, Jesus cited examples of them requiring of others a standard they failed to embrace themselves.
Jesus nailed the heart of the issue with this metaphor . “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. (Matt 23:25-26).
Clearly hypocrisy is repugnant to the Lord. True Christians must rise above the temptation of pretense and feigned righteousness.
Who’s a Hypocrite?
So, in a similar vein to our original question, “Does all past sin, disqualify a Christian from speaking the Truth on moral issues? Do prior transgressions make one a hypocrite if they dare to condemn sin?”
If so, everyone is unfit to ever point out wrong doing, because all have sinned. Was Peter, who denied Jesus, a hypocrite when he preached on Pentecost just 53 days later and condemned the Jews for killing Jesus?
No! Because he repented of his sin. And Christ forgave him. In fact, Jesus authorized him to be the primary spokesman in spite of his past sins.
The same principle would apply to every apostle, prophet and preacher of Bible times. And it would be true of Ken Weliever.
Are the Duggars hypocrites?
I don’t know. I don’t their hearts. Their motives. Or their spiritual focus.
But I do know this. A 12-year-old sin by a teenage son that confessed wrong doing, repented and changed his life, does not negate their right to genuinely express their religious beliefs.
Past indiscretions that have been corrected do not make them, or any of us, hypocrites for speaking the Truth.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman