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Ave Maria’s Paul Adams: To aim at virtue and fall short does not a hypocrite make

Ave Maria is teeming with thoughtful writers, scholars and bloggers. Our neighbor and friend Paul Adams is an impressively-credentialed scholar (MA from Oxford, PhD from Berkeley) and convert whose writing is always edifying.


Today he has written about the absurd yet common phenomenon of Christians being called “hypocrite” in internet com boxes because they sin. Here is an excerpt:

I am struck by the gulf of incomprehension between the Christian and anti-Christian commenters. The story of a sinful man repenting, being forgiven, converting his life to follow God is thousands of years old and repeated many times in Old and New Testaments, from David to Matthew, Paul and countless others. And yet it is incomprehensible to the gotcha crowd who relentlessly judge those they accuse of judging…

…Better in this view to rationalize and justify what we actually choose and do than to try to aim higher and risk failing. Even aiming for virtue seems like an intolerable judgment on those who do not. Better to escape the charge of hypocrisy by not having beliefs and principles that one’s actions could belie. One cannot fail to live up to standards one doesn’t have or that do not differ from whatever one does – not because one is saintly but because one’s standards adapt to what one chooses.

You can enjoy more of Paul’s thoughts by following his blog, Ethics, Culture & Policy.

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