Hypocrisy. Presenting oneself one way (perceived as good) in public while actively living a different way (definitely bad) in private. Sort of like this:
And of course the problem of hypocrisy is made far worse if the hypocrite isn’t just presenting himself as good but is also admonishing others to walk in a certain way— the way he walks.
Isn’t that why Jesus reserved His harshest words for the Pharisees? They weren’t only presenting themselves as good, but were also teaching others how to be good (according to them)—all while filled with arrogance and living lives of wheeling-dealing wickedness behind the scenes.
By this definition, Tullian Tchividjian has been exposed to be a quintessential hypocrite. Not only committing adultery, but committing adultery as a pastor, which justifies the accusation of clergy abuse. And not only that, but either grooming or fully taking advantage of several women at the same time. And not only that, but doing it all while preaching and teaching and writing about the gospel of the grace of Jesus Christ, which is a gospel of more than simply forgiveness but power to live a transformed life. The series of posts over at Spiritual Sounding Board presents the entire situation in a light that makes the hypocrisy clear, and as we grieve for his victims and their families and his family, I think it wouldn’t be inappropriate to use language such as what Jesus used in reference to this arrogant abuse of power.
On the other hand, I have a friend who has been accused of hypocrisy because she used to believe in a harsh, strict, legalistic way, but has over time recognized the error of those views. Some people have said that because she raised her children in the legalistic way but now doesn’t practice that way any more, she is a hypocrite.
But this is actually not hypocrisy at all. That’s simply growth and change as a result of changing one’s views. Because it’s essential to the definition of hypocrisy that the person be living one way (perceived to be good) while speaking and teaching another (definitely bad)—at the same time.
The end of the post I linked to above at Spiritual Sounding Board makes a plea to those in the Christian community who are being affected by this news about Tullian Tchividjian. Those who used to vehemently support him are now repenting and reaching out to those they hurt with their words. What’s happening with these people isn’t hypocrisy, but seeing the light and desiring to grow and change. For this we can be very thankful.
It would be a beautiful thing if we could see that same kind of humility and desire for change in many arenas. After all, our gospel isn’t simply a gospel of forgiveness, but of transformation. By the grace of God, an exhausted world can see Christians living lives transformed to live and walk in a holy way, by the resurrection power of Jesus Christ.