My own personal stance against religious hypocrisy - both my own, and any others who seek to hurt people in the name of God.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Rejoice Not in the Death/Punishment of the Wicked

So, what is a hypocrite? Who is one and who isn't?

According to Wikipedia, "Hypocrisy is the act of pretending that one has beliefs, opinions, virtues, feelings, qualities or standards that they do not actually have; this is usually done in order to mask their actual motives or feelings; falseness."

It goes further to state: "The term hypocrite is widely misused. Many persons state that hypocrisy is the action of 'not practising what you preach'."

So, hypocrisy is NOT saying certain behavior is wrong and then performing said behavior. Hypocrisy is saying certain behavior is wrong, performing said behavior, and then DENYING one has done it or, more commonly, RATIONALIZING the behavior.

It is easy to become guilty of this. We see someone we don't like undermining someone we like, and we get angry and criticize them for it. Then we undermine the offender. However, when challenged, we state that in our case the behavior is justified, so it isn't the same.

Consider recent news. Bernard Madoff has just been sentence to 150 years in prison for swindling people of their life's savings. How easy it is for us - especially those of us who have personally suffered from his schemes - to react with joy, declaring he but reaps the fruits of his labor.

But what of ourselves? Is that how we wish to be judged? True, we may not have swindled people out of their money - or maybe we have. Just not millions and billions. But whether we have swindled or not is not the point. The point is this: Is that how we wish to be judged?

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is te log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. Matthew 7:1-5 Revised Standard Version

So what am I saying? That we just let all criminals everywhere go free? No. I'm saying we need to be careful how we judge others, because that is how God will judge us. If we offer no mercy to others, we will get no mercy.

So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets. Matthew 7:12 Revised Standard Version

Do not take pleasure in the punishment and suffering of others, even when it is so clear their punishment and suffering is of their own doing. Do not rejoice at their destruction, for God does not.

And you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, Thus have you said: 'Our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we waste away becaues of them; how then can we live?' Say to them, As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel? Ezekiel 33:10-11 Revised Standard Version

I am as guilty as the next person in expressing joy at the suffering of those who have inflicted pain and misery across the world, or even to a few I know. It's hard not to be that way. But the truth is, I don't want to be judged like that. I want mercy. I want forgiveness. Therefore, I must offer mercy. I must offer forgiveness. Otherwise, I disqualify myself.

The real tragedy with Madoff isn't even the people who have suffered - and died - because of his actions. It's that he may not "turn from his way and live". Then God will be grieved, too.

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