Okay, I never thought I would ever write about something that happened on “The View” but as they say, “never say never”. The subject of Mel’s divorce came up and he was called a hypocrite because of it. The reason is that he has a very public and very conservative Roman Catholic faith. Clearly divorce is not something that the Roman Catholic church condones. It is assumed that Mel Gibson must then also have a position, at least before his own divorce was filled, that said divorce is a sin or at least wrong. So out comes the hypocrite charge.
Now I must confess that I only saw a two minute clip of the debate but it was pretty clear that the reasoning behind the hypocrite charge was that if you do something that you have said is wrong to do, then you are a hypocrite. That certainly seems to be the popular usage of the word. If I agree with that usage then I must conclude that everyone, everywhere is a hypocrite. After all, who among us has never, ever, done something that you knew was wrong and had previously said was wrong? We all have done things that we knew were wrong and said were wrong. Have you said that lying is wrong and then when you got a phone call you did not want to take said, “Tell them I am not in”. Have you said that stealing is wrong and then not returned the extra change that the cashier mistakenly gave you, money that is not yours and will need to come out of her pocket at the end of the night? You get my point. None of that is hypocrisy. It is plane old everyday sin. We all sin. We all do things that we know we should not and we don’t do things that we know we should. Read the seventh chapter of Paul’s Letter to the Romans and you will see that even the Apostle struggled with this.
To call someone a hypocrite is far more serious than being your garden variety sinner. Hypocrisy comes from the Greek word hypokrisis. It meant the act of playing a part on stage. It meant to pretend to be something or someone you are not. In order to be a hypocrite you have to know that you are not what you claim and you are intentionally deceiving people into thinking you are that. Jesus called people hypocrites on a number of occasions.
Matthew 6:2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.”
Matthew 6:5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.”
Matthew 6:16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.”
Jesus was speaking out against people who were pretending to be spiritual. They prayed so people would see them pray, not so they could get closer to God. They practiced fasting, not so they could grow in holiness but so people would think that they were holy. They even gave money to the poor, not so the poor would be blessed or God would be honored, but so people would honor them for being generous. They pretended to pray to get close to God, and fast to get more holy, and give in order to serve others. But all the while it was so people would praise them. That is hypocrisy.
Is Mel Gibson a hypocrite? Nope, I don’t think so. Is he a man who has deep convictions about some things? Absolutely! Does he always have the strength to live up to those convictions. Absolutely not!
Can you take out Mel’s name from the previous paragraph and insert your own? I know I can. I am not the man Christ wants me to be. I am not even the man that I want me to be. I suspect that you are not the person that Christ wants you to be or that you want to be. That is called being human, being a sinner in need of God’s forgiving grace. Since we are all in the same boat, maybe we ought to all be giving each other a little bit of that grace. That doesn’t mean we never say that something is right or wrong. We must do that. But we must do it with grace and mercy. Why? because Jesus said to love others the way you would want to be loved.