Two Kinds of Hypocrisy


We think of hypocrisy as someone who preaches virtue, but lives an unvirtuous life. But perhaps there is a second, equally insidious form of hypocrisy. I was reading today (I am always reading, as you probably have figured out by now), and came across an interesting remark by an individual named Kyle Sammin. Here it is:

"We decry the hypocrite who preaches virtue but practices a secret vice. What, then, should we say about the mirror image of that: the person who lives virtuously but calls vice and virtue equals?"

I found that a very interesting thought, and a very interesting question to go along with it. It's certainly not hypocritical to live one's own life and let others live theirs (within the bounds of the law of the land). But would it be hypocritical to live by one's chosen values, but assert one's values are no better or no worse than others'? Of course, if one had chosen one's values at random, no charge of hypocrisy could be laid at your doorstep. But what if you believed there were good, perhaps even very good, reasons to choose the values that you chose? Would it then make you a hypocrite to not assert you felt those values to be better than the alternatives?

At first glance, one might consider this not hypocrisy, but simple politeness. One cannot simply go about telling people who cross your path that their values are inferior to yours. This, I suggest, is where our culture leaves the matter.

But I am not sure we can leave it there as members of the Church, do you? After all, consider D&C 88:81's injunction that "it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor." While in our modern day we might shy away from warning someone to their face if we were not close friends with them, shouldn't there be voices in the public square arguing in behalf of the values we hold? Suggesting that adoption of such values would lead to great happiness and a better quality of life?

And under what conditions is a failure to do so also a failure to be valiant in the service of God? Or even to place a stumblingblock in the path of one who is blinded? (Lev. 19:14) If many men are kept from the truth because they know not where to find it (D&C 123:12), what is our role in helping them?

These things are on my mind because I wrestle with them myself. For example, the C-section rate in the US is 32%, which is way too high--but saying that involves a value judgment with which others may disagree, or which may hurt the feelings of someone who has chosen an elective C-section. And even more perplexing to me is that sometimes I overhear members of the Church downplaying the seriousness of sin, especially sexual sin, in a way that seems to suggest that the Church is somehow being unreasonable in holding members to standards.

I'm truly interested in your thoughts on this matter. Is there a second form of hypocrisy? If so, what forms have you seen it take? How do you address it?