A disquisition on hypocrisy.

As you might guess, this was more than not prompted by a recent “pit” thread of mine. I remember reading this passage years ago and being astonished, as it had so clearly espoused the growing frustration and anger I have felt with the “rush to hypocrisy” in our world. You need not venture out far into the world to experience or understand this. Many of the threads and debates here are a race not to the truth, but to who can prove the hypocrisy of the other first. In such an argument the only one who wins is the man with no standards whatsoever.

Am I right? Am I wrong? Or am I being “an idiotic, outdated, insular jerk”?

I agree with the sentiment in the post - we should look as to why a person can’t follow what he preaches. I can forgive a moment of weakness, but actual deciet bothers me quite a bit.

BTW - * The Diamond Age * was a really good book, so
THE GREAT AND DREADED CTHULHU highly reccomends you read it NOW. Or else. :wink:

Bah…it sounds like hypocritical weasel words to me. If you can’t walk the walk, don’t talk the talk, I say.

The greatest hypocrisy can be found in Christians today.

The bible says NO to fornication. And they are “doing it” all over the place and with multiple partners.

The bible says NO to adultery. And 6 out of every 10 women polled in Washington DC claims to have had an affair.

The bible says NO to pharmakia (sorcery, i.e. abortifacient drugs in particular). And millions of women are making the right CHOICE to abort but then feel false guilt about it.

We watch sexy movies, nasty TV shows, cuss and swear and then still claim to believe in Jeezus! Pleeeease!

Stop being hypocrites. Even Jeezus said as much, be hot or cold.

Christianity is cold. Be HOT, HOT, HOT!

Be real–


Oh yes, that forgive and love your enemies garbage-- forget it, no one does that!

I just read some of your comments in the other thread.

I was laughing hard over at the other thread until i saw this.

Erm. Susie, are you for real?:confused:

Ok, in the event that this is not a joke, cite please. You’re way generalising.

p.s. It is only polite to spell His name properly.

Susie, baby, you’re offensive. And that IS your right, but I would ask that you be so within the scope of the thread.

Your logic insinuates that Christians are fornicators, adulterors, pharmakia-practicing (Ok, I admit I have NO IDEA what the appropriate adjective is for pharmakia) Showtime/HBO/Cinemax-watchers, because The Bible says that doing so is wrong.

My issue is related to a basic kind of IQ test question: “True or False: Christians adhere to The Bible, The Bible says NO to X, people of unspecified heritage perform X, therefore All Christians perform X.”

I ain’t saying hypocrites don’t exist within the organization, but you know better than to paint all members with the same brush. You seem to have an axe requiring substantial grinding, post your own (specific) thread and see what you get.

“In such an argument the only one who wins is the man with no standards whatsoever.”

May I restate this as, " The person with no standards can never be seen as inconsistent because inconsistency requires a departure from a commitment to some principle or other."?

This is akin to a belief of mine that it is essentially impossible to perform an immoral act–because intentionally comitting an act requires you to accept that it is the right thing to do. liberationsuzie touches on this with her ‘choice for abortion’ example.

You are right, it IS tiresome to suffer a debate in which the STATED goal is consensus and the IMPLIED goal is the jugular. But even here, the unprincipled “victor” is not the victor, but merely an hypocrite because participation in the debate implies acceptance of attainment of the STATED goal as the objective–the purpose or “moral” of the discourse. Intentional deviation from that stated “moral” is hypocricy…no? Do I need to get some sleep?:o

Welcome to the SDMB, liberationsusie, and to Great Debates in particular.

Please provide cites for your poll. I am assuming that this was a poll of Christians only. Also, did you have a reason to assume that the results of this poll applied to Christians worldwide?

Could you explain why you believe this referred to use of abortifacient drugs “in particular”?


The Anchor Bible Dictionary, [Abortion in Antiquity], Vol. 1, p. 33.

PHARMAKIA (PHARMAKOI) mentioned as sorcery in Revelation 21:8 and 22:15 appears to refer to those who obtained abortifacient potions (cf. 9:21; 18:23; Galatians 5:20).

NBC, Washington Affiliate, Channel 4 (News Bite 1997)

A random poll of 1,000 women in the District of Columbia found that 6 out of every 10 women surveyed admitted to having an adulterous relationship within the last year.

I had no intention to derail your topic. Sorry if you find my views offensive. I get a lot of that.

Enjoy your debate, and stay free–


Though it’s not stated outright, it seems to me that the quoted passage in the OP implies that folks who complain about hypocrisy today do so only because they have no moral views, and wish to feel superior to the hypocrites (Victorians in this case).

This, to me, is illogical. There are many reasons to be opposed to hypocrisy, first and foremost (IMO) being to ensure consistency – if you talk about the evils of drinking while indulging in drink yourself, then you’ve undercut your own argument. “Don’t talk the talk if you can’t walk the walk,” and all that. The notion that opposition to hypocrisy must be rooted in an amoral worldview does not hold water.

It might not, but if you repeatedly violate your own stated moral code, especially after those violations have been brought to your attention, then you are being insincere in espousing that code. An occassional lapse is far different from an abusive habit.


This seems to be very prevalent in society today. I think what you are saying, in laymen’s terms, is that the truthful person doesn’t get to make thier point, merely the one who can shout the loudest.

We see this in politics all of the time. Once one of the candidates dips into the negative, the other thinks they must hit even lower below the belt. Neither believes that taking the “high road” is an option.

So to win an argument these days, or to even make a point, you are almost forced into showing that your opponent is somehow an idiot, a hypocrite, a loser, whatever. Liberationsuzie showed a good example of this in ignoring the point of the OP and instead only attacking an entire group of people without foundation.

We have all been hypocritical at some point in time or another, so to point out the hypocrisy in someone else to show them up is hypocritical in itself. To paraphrase something a wise man once said, “Don’t worry about the thorn in your friend’s eye, while you ignore the tree in your own”.

I see the B-word appearing under the screen name of our latest short-term guest.

Gee, I never saw that one coming.


I had a similar interpretation as rjung. I read the passage to imply that folks elevate the sin of hypocirsy because that’s the only sin left: moral relativity eliminates all other sins.

OTOH Gertrude Himmelfarb has argued that it was better for the Victorians to strive for high moral behavior, even though they often fell short of their ideals, than not to strive at all.

My own view is that moral relativism itself is invariably hypocritical. E.g., there are plenty of people who espouse that the values of certain primative peoples should be respected, but most of these same people will disrepect various modern groups on the other side, such as anti-abortion folks and other non-liberals.

“Moral relativism” is by no means synonymous with “all value-sets are equally worthy of respect”. It’s a popular straw man, though.

No, but it frequently degenerates into that, for all intents and purposes. Look at the recent series of screeds against William Bennett following the revelation that he gambles. Instantly, he was deiscredited, his every word rendered irrelevant. And this is the way it commonly works. If a smoker tells you that smoking is bad for you, sure, he may be a hypocrite… but does that make him wrong?

The H-word is frequently used to shut up an opponent whose views one doesn’t want to consider. If nobody is allowed to give moral advice unless they’re completely innocent in the relevent area, then we’ve effectively made it taboo to discuss morals at all. Everybody has probably lied at some point, thus nobody is allowed to say that lying is bad. Everyone has been angry and hurt someone, thus nobody can say that hurting people out of anger is bad. If only the pure can preach morality, and nobody is pure, who’s left to guide us? Does each person get to pick and choose their own morality?

Yes, hypocricy is, in and of itself, a bad thing. But it’s so far from being the worst thing out there that it hardly bears mentioning. And in a world full of imperfect people, to dwell on the sin of hypocricy is foolish.

I have often thought that a hatred for hypocrisy as the worst of all transgressions is the route to a moral race for the bottom in terms of standards.

Particularly if combined with the notion that acting in conformity to a set of rules, as opposed to one’s inner impulses, is a form of hypocrisy, and the notion that human nature is essentially selfish, violent and amoral.

If all three are true - hypocrisy is the worst of transgressions, acting in conformity is hypocritical, and human nature is vile - only the truly vile in action are true to themselves, are free of hypocrisy.