On a walk one day, I noticed two bumper stickers on the same car. The “Co-exist” statement, where religious groups must simply all get along, was attached to the rear of a vehicle. Right next to it was an advertisement for a martial arts studio. To “Co-exist” while learning the fine art of physically subduing one’s neighbor seems hypocritical. Either we are all nice to each other all the time or we prepare for our neighbor’s attacks. The contradictory bumper stickers made me ponder the source of human hypocrisy.
Alistair McGrath points out obvious atheistic hypocrisies in his book The Passionate Intellect. The latest atheistic attacks come from men like Hitchens, Harris, Dawkins, or Dennett—sometimes called “the new atheists.” They refer to Christianity as “bloody.” But McGrath lacerates this purely atheist perspective—the problem of godless rulers soaked in human blood. McGrath shows the atheist ignores overwhelming evidence of Christian goodness within culture. At the same time, non-believers forget the death camps of atheist dictators. The atheist who casts a blind eye toward the genocide of godless regimes displays philosophic hypocrisy.
Michael Phelps’ gold medals in the last Olympics were tarnished when it was discovered that he smoked marijuana after the event. Phelps’ reputation was damaged and endorsements were lost after the incident, even with a heartfelt apology. However, Hollywood celebrities can acknowledge longstanding substance abuse without recrimination. Media outlets even commemorate a movie star’s addiction victories. Why is drug use by one celebrity viewed as a demotion and another seen as a celebration? Two different standards for different offenders should be called cultural hypocrisy.
Teenagers seem to have a heightened sense of hypocrisy. Youthful indignation attacks superficial social, ethnic, or economic barriers. Young people are quick to identify perceived wrongs where, from their vantage-point, rights may have been violated or people possibly marginalized. Yet, junior high cliques and high school elites are constantly on display at school. It seems we like our own circle of friends, refusing to allow others entrance, a lifelong hypocrisy.
The side-by-side “Co-exist” and martial arts bumper stickers may point out the source of our human hypocrisies. In a Hagar the Horrible cartoon, the cartoonist Chris Browne has the son speaking to his warmongering father, “Dad you should be more trusting! The other guy is not an enemy, he’s a human being just like you!” Sword in hand, the father responds, “That’s why I shouldn’t trust him!” The contradictory bumper stickers say a great deal about our human nature. We are in need of a bridge between our human dignity and our human depravity. For Moody Radio, this is Dr. Mark Eckel, personally seeking truth wherever it’s found.
Writing about hypocrisies is a result of Mark seeing so many of his own. Mark points three fingers back at himself as he points one elsewhere every time he teaches at Crossroads Bible College. To be broadcast on Moody Radio, Winter, 2011.