Unless the Obedience Boys have figured out a way to make Wesleyan perfectionism a reality, all Christians struggle with the Lutheran paradox of being simultaneously a saint and a sinner (sorry to those professors of Christianity who need Vatican validation for sainthood). That paradox means that all Christians in their honest moments admit to struggling with and yield to sin. Which makes Christians inconsistent at least to outsiders. How can these people, the lament goes, who constantly prattle on about the moral law not see that they are immoral themselves? There’s a point in that somewhere, just as there is in stories about the guhzillions of pounds of CO2 that participants in the Climate Change Convention produced. But the impossibility of perfection in this life does not prevent either pastors or legislators from calling people to follow God’s law any more than the reality of political corruption prevents voters from voting for “good” candidates.
A measure of hypocrisy is part and parcel of the Christian life. Christians may be overly afflicted with temptations to promote sanctity all the while knowing that sanctification is a battle in which the believer always comes up short in a glass-completely-full-kind-of way.
But to go out of your way to oppose sinfulness in others while you yourself know you are guilty of the very sinfulness to which you object seems to be in a different category. 2k has regularly received opposition from those who think it leads to antinomianism, a disregard for God’s moral law. The reason runs something like this: if you can follow God’s law on Sunday but don’t need to the rest of the week, or if you strive to be holy as a Christian but not as a plumber, then you undermine the authority of God’s law in all areas of life.
But what happens if you are making that case against 2k at the very same time that you are knowingly violating God’s law? Is that hypocrisy? Or is it some other kind of disorder?
If, for instance, I were in the process of embezzling funds from an organization because finances on the home front were tight, wouldn’t it be foolish (aside from hypocritical) to become a champion of upholding the eighth commandment? Sure, I might still think others are sinful to steal, and if I’m an embezzling church officer I might would still vote to convict someone brought up on charges for stealing. But would I go out of my way in a public manner to identify stealing as a great form of wickedness? Would I write a series of blogposts about a sin I believe is responsible for destroying the church’s witness all the while I am guilty of that sin? Mightn’t I want instead to lay low? Wouldn’t I at least know that now — during this time of personal financial crisis — is not the occasion to stand atop the moral soapbox and point the finger?
We have a word for hypocrisy. What is the word for such lack of self-awareness? Clueless?