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Mel Gibson’s “Hypocrisy” Validates His Religion

This just in: The man who directed The Passion of the Christ really needs Jesus.

It took me a while to actually pay attention to the latest Mel Gibson tirade / scandal / media feeding frenzy. No, it’s not because I’m a Gibson apologist. His abusive, racist rant speaks for itself (especially the uncensored version!). It’s the press’s apparent glee in exposing celebrities — especially the conservative religious kind — that is wearying. Is it just me, or does the media seem to love it when a moralist falls?

So, as expected, charges of hypocrisy are now flying. How can this avowed Catholic, (once) family man, and director of the highest grossing religious film of all time be such an ass? Alas, there’s only one logical answer: He’s a hypocrite!

But how does that charge validate anything… other than our own hypocrisy?

The response of many toward Mel Gibson’s volcanic tantrum illustrates a logical fallacy in how we approach moral and ethical indiscretion. Most people mistakenly assume that hypocrisy automatically invalidates one’s belief’s. Nietzsche, ever hostile to Christianity, said “If they want me to believe in their Savior. . . His followers will have to look more like men who have been saved!” — as if the facts about Christ’s life, death and resurrection are dependent upon my conduct. I’m not suggesting Christian conduct does not matter. After all, “they will know we are Christians by our love.” But the fact is, Christianity has survived centuries of its own unloving idiots. Mel Gibson is just one of a long line of professing Christians who are deeply flawed.

Thankfully, the Christian religion does not require my perfection for its perpetuation. In fact, you can’t judge the validity of any religion, philosophy, or value strictly by the conduct of its adherents. There are bad Buddhists, bad Muslims, bad humanists, and bad environmentalists. However, their “badness” does nothing to invalidate the ideal of their positions. Hitler was, after all, a vegetarian. Yet his inhumanity is no reason to renounce cabbage and artichokes. Vegetarianism, as an ideal, is no worse off because one of its own suddenly goes carnivore. Likewise, Gibson’s racist, narcissistic, chauvinistic rant does little to invalidate the Person and Work of Jesus Christ.

In fact, the actor’s emotional meltdown may reinforce the exact need for the Person and Work of Jesus Christ.

When the Democrats re-took the Senate back in ’07, they immediately pledged a push for improved ethics. Sounds great, right? Not long after the promise, Louisiana congressman William Jefferson was charged with multiple counts of bribery (he was later sentenced to 13 years in prison). Question: Does Jefferson’s lack of ethics invalidate his belief, and ours, in the need for higher ethics. Absolutely not. If something is true or virtuous it should be defended… even if the one defending it is a liar.

And everyone is a liar.

Chesterton suggested that human depravity was the only “provable” biblical doctrine. We can’t conclusively prove there is a God or that Christ rose from the dead. We can, however, prove that no one perfectly embodies the values they profess. In fact, the higher standards one possesses, the more of a hypocrite they will inevitably be. We are all hypocrites. Take it to the bank.

In some ways then, hypocrisy reinforces, rather than undermines, one’s beliefs. The evolutionist can hardly be slighted for acting like an ape, after all, he IS one (according to him). It’s those who believe we’re more than animals who get judged by a higher law. Mel Gibson is being judged by his own standards. William Jefferson is being judged by his own standards. Their hypocrisy is evidence of something ideal. If what they say is true, then they should live up to it. But the fact that they don’t says more about them, than their convictions.

According to special edition commentaries of The Passion of the Christ, Mel Gibson’s hands were shown nailing Christ to the cross during the Crucifixion scene. The director said “It was me that put him on the cross. It was my sins” that put him there.

Nothing worth believing can ever be fully lived up to. And in the case of Christianity, not living up to our beliefs is, in fact, why He came.

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{ 23 comments… add one }
  • Ivy July 19, 2010, 6:09 AM

    Never thought of it that way. How can you validate peoples beliefs without judging their behavior? Gibson acted like a moron and that has to reflect on his beliefs. Fact.

    • Mike Duran July 19, 2010, 6:21 AM

      Ivy, do you always live the way you think you should? If you answer “yes,” I’d say you were a liar. If you answer “no,” I’d say you were a hypocrite. Question: Then why do you believe you should live a certain way?

  • Tim George July 19, 2010, 6:16 AM

    Good points all Mike!

    It is our own depraved heart that leads us to stake the gospel on how good we can live and act. Thankfully God did not stake the gospel on us but rather on Himself; “He cannot deny Himself.”

    Mel Gibson is a tragic exaggerated picture of all of us. His quest to build his own perfect works based religion (including his own private brand of Catholicism) is no worse or better than much of the “me-oriented” religion that dominates our culture.

    Now all we can do is pray for him and ourselves.

    • Jeff Pauls July 19, 2010, 6:28 AM

      Tim George, “Now all we can do is pray for him and ourselves.” Which is right where we need to be. Audio Adrenaline said it well, “I get down, he lifts me up.” ……with the emphasis on He.

  • E. Stephen Burnett July 19, 2010, 7:07 AM

    Great observations, Mike — to which I might only ask: If Mel Gibson’s (professed) belief in Jesus Christ is incorrect, and by proxy Christianity is a farce, just exactly what makes it wrong to be a “hypocrite” anyway?

    • Mike Duran July 19, 2010, 7:29 AM

      Ha! The only way to avoid the possibility of being labeled a hypocrite is to not profess ANY morals. Which is a prime characteristic of hyenas, octopi, and pond scum.

    • E. Stephen Burnett July 19, 2010, 7:54 AM

      … Which of course would be a lie anyway, because everyone worships something and has a “moral code” (no matter how secret or self-contradictory). And anytime someone who professes to have no moral code (and thus tries to avoid charges of “hypocrisy”) condemns someone who does, that person blows wide open the illusion — along with the critic’s even worse hypocrisy.

      This is one reason why, with care and disclaimers, I often suggest Christians ought not worry so much about How the World Sees Us. From many circles I hear this admonition: watch what you do and say, because The World is Watching, and you don’t want them to think you’re another one of those Hypocrites, do you?

      Of course there’s some truth to that, based in Scripture. Yet it’s also true that even if you’re somehow living a perfect and Christlike life, some nonbelievers will yell about any Christian’s supposed “hypocrisy” simply as a smokescreen to avoid their own guilt. Instead, as a Christian I should care more about pleasing God than pleasing a nonbeliever (though that’s also often very important).

  • Jill July 19, 2010, 7:31 AM

    ” . . . as if the facts about Christ’s life, death and resurrection are dependent upon my conduct.” I had never thought about it like that before. Christ’s message to the world should be reassuring because of the behavior of humankind. The fact that Christians are hypocrites and yet still Christians should be reassuring. But that is coming from the perspective of a Christian.

    It is telling to me that every one of the four gospels in the Bible highlights Peter’s story of betrayal. Peter was the ultimate hypocrite; he denied Christ three times in a row, and that was after Christ had warned him that he would do so! And yet, God had big plans for that hypocrite.

    I love Mel Gibson’s movies. I really do. Over and over again, through his movies, he has delivered the message that we should be willing to die for our beliefs. I pray that Mel Gibson remembers his own message as well as what is worth dying for.

    • David James July 21, 2010, 2:52 AM

      And your comment on Peter highlights a hypocritical viewpoint I’ve always felt the people of the Church have on Peter. How many times in our life do we make decisions that ultimately deny Christ?

      I include myself in that question.

      Yet Peter only denied Him three times!

      How many more times did the others deny Christ that night? We don’t know, but I suspect it was much more than just three times.

      I’ve always felt it was an act of grace that Christ told Peter that he would deny Him three times. Peter was so sure he wouldn’t deny Jesus at all, and Jesus knew they would all deny Him, and have to do so all night long. Think of how long that night really was. And Peter only had to deny him THREE times? C’mon, think about that. ONLY three times?

      I think that Jesus was giving Peter grace in limiting how many times he would deny the Saviour so that he would not be more shaken than he was afterward as such a staunch believer in Jesus. I mean, someone like Peter not having that grace would have denied Jesus even more than that to the point of serious personal damnation. Jesus restored him by asking him if he loved Him three times and with each time Peter said it, Jesus affirmed him by saying, “Feed my sheep” to him.

      For us to condemn Peter for denying Christ three times has always been to me one of the more hypocritical things we do as Believers.

      Just a thought to share. 🙂

  • Jessica Thomas July 19, 2010, 7:39 AM

    I addressed this in my blog last week after hearing an edited version of one of his tirades. The irony is, it’s the Christian faith that I think best allows one to understand how a man can soar to such heights and fall to such depths, both within the course of one lifetime (and within a very short time span). Christ and the Christian faith is what allows me to view Gibson compassionately and with hope for his recovery, rather than writing him off as lost cause, which is what I think people outside the faith are apt to do. Thing is, those people to who totally write him off…they could find themselves in the same type of predicament due to their own flawed nature, then what? But for the grace of God go I.

    My blog post if you want to pop over and read:

    http://jessicathomasink.com/blog/?p=972

    • Mike Duran July 19, 2010, 7:55 AM

      Jessica, I like what you said: “…it’s the Christian faith that I think best allows one to understand how a man can soar to such heights and fall to such depths.” Christianity both sets the bar impossibly high, encourages us to keep reaching for it, and provides the grace to keep failing. Great point, Jessica. Heading over to check out your post.

    • Jeff July 19, 2010, 8:44 AM

      “Thing is, those people to who totally write him off…they could find themselves in the same type of predicament due to their own flawed nature, then what?” …. reminds me of the words spoken to Shylock. We must be careful in our desire for justice. “The quality of mercy is not strain’d”

    • Kaci July 20, 2010, 8:52 AM

      Jessica, would you rather I comment here or on your site?

  • Nicole July 19, 2010, 7:46 AM

    How many times do we hear: “I don’t go to church because it’s full of hypocrites.”? Yeah, it is. But, hey, look in the mirror. If Christianity were a religion based on man, a la the beliefs of secular humanism, it would be an abject failure. It’s based on a perfect God who sees the depravity in man and rescues those who choose to see it too.

    Mel needs help to face those demons he’s been entertaining and who’ve gotten the best of him. Only one way to do that. Just like the rest of us: repent and ask forgiveness. Since his sins have been blasted all over creation, it’ll be harder for people to forgive him. Not so difficult for the Lord if Mel’s heart is right.

  • Kaci July 19, 2010, 1:36 PM

    I go back and forth on this. One, I somewhat resist the ‘we’re all hypocrites’ thing. I guess I view true hypocrisy as intentional, even malicious. I have no problem with a guy who screws up, then, either on his own or when confronted, falls before the throne of grace. I do, however, have a problem with an arrogant rebel flaunting his is own sin.

    I go back and forth, because, on the one hand, I can’t understand someone walking in the Spirit behaving that way. On the other…who am I to judge another man’s servant?

    I go back and forth, because, on the one hand, I’m incredibly hesitant to call someone’s salvation into question. Horribly so. On the other…after a long chain of consistent behavior, the question starts to worm its way into the back of my mind.

    I feel a lot of sympathy toward Christians with a lot of eyes on them – especially new ones. It’s an unforgiving place to be. And I do agree the whole thing is more of a tragedy than something to be enraged over. I do think, had I been present, I’d have probably had a ‘come to Jesus meeting’ with the man.

    As it is, I can, yes, image the circumstances leading a Christian to stumble. But I’m still going to have to maintain that the real tell is in the person’s response in the aftermath of his sin.

    Anyway. Jessica, I’ll check out your blog.

    Much love.

    • Kaci July 19, 2010, 1:37 PM

      Edit: That’s “when,” not ‘then.’

    • Mike Duran July 20, 2010, 7:19 AM

      Great points, Kaci! I think you’re right to point out the difference between intentionally sinning and, that so, as a way of life, as opposed to stumbling into sin or succumbing to weakness and humbly admitting it. Perhaps the person who can truly be charged with hypocrisy is the one who touts certain values or personal righteousness, lives in blatant / secret denial, and then is defensive or unapologetic when discovered. Either way, I too agree that Christians in the limelight carry a massive weight that few of us can realize. Blessings, Kaci!

      • Kaci July 20, 2010, 8:51 AM

        That was sort of my thought. I mean, I can’t honestly call a hypocrite someone who knows they screwed up and has shown genuine repentance.

  • RJB July 20, 2010, 7:05 AM

    Someone saying they wont go to church because its full of hypocrites is like someone having a heart attack saying I wont go to the hospital because its full of sick people. The hospital is where sick people should go and the church is where hypocrites need to be.

    But the problem is many preachers preach moralism and call it Christianity. Many Christians feel morally superior because of the Olsteenian “We are all OK” preaching that passes as the Gospel today. If Christianity is no more than a moral standard then its only logical to judge that standard by the action of those who practice it.

    Christ did not die on a cross in order to be a good example for us to follow. We cannot go where he went. If we could have, he wouldn’t have had to.

    • Kaci July 20, 2010, 8:49 AM

      That is true – Christ was doing more than being a good teacher or a pretty moralist. But he called us salt and light for a reason, methinks. Where we go wrong is, we try to “fix it” first rather than pressing in to Christ first. I don’t know that that’s hypocrisy as much as it is a failure to realize God is after our hearts.

      I have never touched an Osteen book or listened to an Osteen sermon. I used to work at a bookstore. Seeing that many weirdly smiling copies of “Your Best Life Now” staring at me gave me nightmares.

    • Jeff July 20, 2010, 10:16 AM

      RJB said, “Christ did not die on a cross in order to be a good example for us to follow. We cannot go where he went. If we could have, he wouldn’t have had to.” Amen to that!

      Do we understand the point of “being good”– of behaving well? It’s not even about us. Jesus said in John that he only does what he sees his father doing. In John 4, he says to his disciples, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” NASB Would that we would all treat our Christianity as a relationship with the God who created all things, the loving Father who has a role for each one of us in the kingdom he is bringing even now. However, too many of us see it as a drug, a right, or our own personal concoction for living.

      You’re right, RJB, Jesus is the source of life. He called us to himself, not to rhetoric about him.

  • Ron williams July 27, 2010, 3:30 PM

    We must remember that our adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. If he gets us to turn on each other, then we devour ourselves and make his job easier. How many times have we said something we would not like to hear on the 10 o’clock news? If the world could only understand that Christians do not claim to be perfect-however we do claim to know someone who is. That perfect person gave His life so that we one day could obtain His perfection. However,in this life we will struggle and strive to reach out and grasp ahold of the perfect prize-Eternal life with Jesus……..

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