Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Not everyone who says one thing but does another is a hypocrite. A woman, who gossips but fights against that sin even when she participates, is not a hypocrite. An honest man, who steals money from his partner to feed his family, is not a hypocrite. The subtle distinction is the reality of the person's belief. If a woman pretends to hate gossip in order to trick someone else into sharing a confidence and then gossips about it, she is a hypocrite. If a man pretends he is honest so that he can gain access to his partner's money in order to steal it, he is a hypocrite.
"Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops." (Luke 12:1-3, ESV)
Hypocrisy was the problem with the Pharisees. They pretended to love God when they loved only themselves. They pretended to teach the people about God when they taught their own set of rules and regulations. They were not servants of their people before God, even though they pretended to be. All of this hypocrisy existed for one purpose: in order for the Pharisees to be important, powerful, rich leaders in their culture.
This pharisaical hypocrisy continues, today. Some men become ministers in order to have a cover for their sin, not because they are called by God. We see the results of this proclaimed in the headlines: priests abuse alter boys, ministers betray parishioners' trust, preachers steal the church's money. The shock of revelation can be almost as destructive as the sinful act.
Some ministers perform another type of hypocrisy. They abuse their wives and children. From the outside, the family looks perfect, but that is all part of the lie. This form of hypocrisy is often the most difficult to break open. No church member wants to believe that his or her pastor is capable of hurting his own family.
Mary DeMuth wrote a fictional account of a small Texas town, a child's murder, and a family's secret life of abuse at the hands of their preacher/father. The story is well written in three books that follow from the murder in Daisy Chain to catching the killer in Life in Defiance.
Woven throughout these two books as well as the middle one, A Slow Burn, is a vivid portrait of a family in extreme distress and pain. As the life for this family unfolded, I found myself comparing Mary's descriptions of their actions and emotions to the twenty or so preachers' families that I have known through the years. I could recognize two families that had many similarities. One of the preachers went to prison for abuse. The other one left town with his family to escape facing the truth.
I recommend all three of these books for the well-written stories. More than that, I ask that, after you read the books, you consider whether you know someone who may need your help. Revealing the hypocrisy of an abuser may save someone's life.