Under Construction

A common criticism of Christianity is perceived hypocrisy of many "Christians" and in some cases the church (e.g. when the Church gets involved in political issues such as war.)

There are several explanations for this:

  • Many Christians are hypocrits. Being a Christian does not mean one is sinless. Confession of sins is a big part of Christianity (1 John 1:9). However, Christianity does not allow that you can do what you want, because you will be forgiven. A person will be judged by what is in their heart (1 Corinthians 4:5) and true Christians will always be striving to be better people.
  • Not all people who attend church and call themselves Christians are really Christians. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ says "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord' will enter the kingdom of heaven...." (Matthew 8:21-23). In (Matthew 7:15) Christ warns of false prophets.
A friend of mine says "Churches are hospitals for sinners, not clubs for Saints".
Other Questions
Why is the divorce rate for Christians no better than the average?
% have been divorced
Baby Boomers 34%
Jews 30%
Fundamentalist Christians 30%
Baptists 29%
Born-again Christians 27%
Mainline Protestants 25%
Mormons 24%
Other Christians 24%
non-Christians 23%
Catholics 21%
Lutherans 21%
Atheists, Agnostics 21%
People born before 1933 18%
Protestant Senior Pastors 15%
Asians 9%
Source: ReligiousTolerance.org and Pollster George Barna divorce findings at barna.org
Note: There are several ways of measuring divorce rates. See Divorce Rate.

A fifteen denominational study, computed both present and "ever-divorced" rates of women and men Protestant clergy. Zikmund, Lummis, and Chang, Clergy Women: An Uphill Calling (Westminster/John Knox. 1998,) found that:.
The average clergy ever-divorced rate (24% women and 19% men) is comparable to the total lay "ever-divorced" rate most recently reported by the Census.

Percent ever-divorced, of those ever-married, from a 1996 Presbyterian Panel (PCUSA) survey:
members, 18%
elders, 17%
pastors, 20%
specialized clergy, 30%

See Also: Christian couples who pray together have a divorce rate of less than 1% at prayerguide.org.uk and Dennis Rainey at FamilyLife.org.

Tom Whiteman, a Philadelphia psychologist and counselor, found that although the rate was about the same for Christians as others, the reasons for divorce were different. He found that the number one reason cited in divorce proceedings for the general population was incompatibility, but Christians rarely use that as grounds for a divorce. "In the Christian population, the reasons are adultery, abuse (including substance, physical and verbal abuse) and abandonment," Whiteman says. See John Mark Ministries at PastorNet.net.au

In the Oct. 8, 2011 Wall Street Journal, Matt Ridley has an article titled "Hard-Wired Hypocrisy in Our Divided Minds "
See: Matt Ridley on Self Deception and Evolution | Mind & Matter - WSJ.com
He references the two books below.
Mr. Kurzban ("Why everyone (Else) is a Hypocrite"), says the brain is modular and the modules will sometimes contradict each other. The hunger module will demand a cheeseburger, while the vanity module demands a diet.

Mr. Trivers takes further this idea of hiding potentially damaging information away in an unconscious bit of the brain where it cannot leak, arguing that we deceive ourselves the better to deceive others.
Trivers finds that intelligent people are more likely to deceive themselves than the average. More than 90% of professors think they are in the top half of their profession.

Greed, Guilt and Glory

I have this theory related to the modular brain (above).

Greed - A driver in some sense for capitalism. It is especially strong in the U.S. where there is a tendency to believe bigger and better is your measure of success. We want a better car, a better education for our kids, a better computer, ...
This may be driving the Tea Party movement which opposes governments roll in leveling the playing field. Taking tax money to build parks and provide healthcare for people who cannot afford to join the the country club or get good health insurance.
It also drives our need to go into debt and spend beyond our means.

Guilt - Deep down people feel guilty about this greed, so they grab on to Religion and other altruistic activities to compensate.

Glory - Everyone wants to feel important or significant. This may be what drives many people to take extreme views whether it be on the right or left in politics or other areas such as denying human influence on climate change.

"Why everyone (Else) is a Hypocrite", 2010, Robert Kurzban
"The Folly of Fools", 2011, Robert Trivers

See Also:
Conservative Christians and Republicans
Marriage-Divorce stats in reference.
Matt Ridley on Self Deception and Evolution | Mind & Matter - WSJ.com

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last updated 11 Oct 2011