Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Warning Against Hypocrisy

When I was 16, I memorized the book of Matthew.

I know.

I wasn't just a nerdy kid. I was a nerdy kid with a Bible.

I did this extracurricular activity called, "Bible Bowl." It was like a quiz game, except all questions were centered on the exact wording of verses throughout the book of Matthew. Our little team, called the "Syracuse Stompers," was so good that we placed second in a "championship" involving three finalist teams drawing from the Northeast United States.

Just so that you have the full picture of what was involved ... when I say I memorized Matthew, that means not only did I know the verses. I also could answer any question, phrased in any way. And sometimes, I knew the answer to a question before half of the question had left the moderator's lips.

For example, "In Matthew 5:5, what will ..."


"Yes, Syracuse, player 2, what is the answer?"

 "They will inherit the earth."

Now look it up if you want to know what I was answering.

I was a maniac.

I was making straight As at school and when I wasn't studying, I was reciting those verses, backwards and forwards. Literally. Backwards and forwards.

Now the reason I tell you this little story is to clue you in  ... that when I tell you that I know the book of Matthew ... I know the book of Matthew.

But ironically, it wasn't until this little stunt that Christians across the United States pulled at Chick-fil-A that the words of Matthew chapter 23 really meant something to me.

At the time when I was first memorizing this book of the Bible, I was really stumped by Matthew 23. I knew Jesus was mad. I knew He told off the Pharisees. I knew He thought they were a bunch of stuffed shirts who thought they were better than everybody else.

But until this week, I didn't get -- really didn't get -- the full throttle of His message.

I could quote that chapter here, but you can just look it up at this link if you're interested:

Now. Rewind.

Where did we leave off in our story?

(See part 2 if you haven't read it yet.)

Matt (that is, Matthew), just threw a party for Jesus. Jesus told the Pharisees that He hadn't come for the righteous but for the sinners. And then Matt took off after Jesus and became His disciple and then wrote the book of Matthew.

But let's dissect this.

When you understand how and why Matt was such a scourge on society, you gain a brand new appreciation for Matthew 23.

Look at some of these colorful descriptions that Jesus gives the Pharisees:

"Blind guides!"

"Blind fools!"

"You hypocrites!"

"You are like whitewashed tombs!"

"You snakes!"

"You brood of vipers!"

You know, when you consider the kind of treatment Matt suffered at the hands of righteous people, is it any wonder that he quoted Jesus's harsh judgment against them?

It never hit me until this week how these words of Jesus must have seemed like a balm to Matt's soul. In essence, Jesus stood in the gap between the lost and the righteous. He held up His hand and said, "No more. No more will you stand in the way of people learning about God's love, just because you think they're not good enough. I'm telling you that you're out of line, and those who you would condemn will have a place in the Kingdom, while you'll be on the outside."


Read that chapter again.

Now what does this have to do with the Christians who showed their support for the comments against gay people by patronizing Chick-fil-A?


See, when you line up as a force and collectively point your finger of judgment against one group of people, you become a Pharisee. You become a self-appointed judge. You become a wall between that person and the message that Christ loves them, died for them and wants to be in their life. Who is going to listen to you when you try to share the good news that He's there for them? Not one of them. Not one of them will listen or care. Not one of them will give your message any credence. Not one of them will ever want to darken the door of your church or shake your hand in the pew.

Not one.

I wouldn't.

Some of you might say to me, "Heidi, are you saying that you support a gay lifestyle? Aren't we told to go and sin no more? Aren't we told that we are not to sin 'that grace may abound?'"

How are these people going to even learn about grace when you've collectively condemned them? How are they going to want to hear about it?

See, here's the thing:

I have to worry about my own soul. I have to worry that I do not sin "that grace may abound."

That means my Achilles heel has to be dealt with: My temper. It's not pretty. It's my cross. It's what I have to crucify daily. And I don't always succeed.

Should I be allowed to patronize Chick-fil-A, given that I lose my temper?

OK, how about this?

What about the men who went to Chick-fil-A, to collectively voice their disapproval against gay people -- who are also married and flirt with me in private messages on Twitter?

Yeah. They do that. And don't make me name you, because I WILL.


What about those who went to Chick-fil-A who cheated on their student exams?

What about those who went to Chick-fil-A who have an addiction ... alcohol, drugs, porn?

What about those who went to Chick-fil-A who cheat on their spouses? Or abuse their spouses?

What about those who went to Chick-fil-A who gossip and spread falsehoods about other people?

What about those who went to Chick-fil-A who are jealous and covet what their friends have?

Should I continue?

What about those who went to Chick-fil-A who are just so self-righteous that they think their sins are less than others, so they get a pass to be in the Christian Club?

You throw a stone, I'll hit you with your own boulder.

None of y'all are perfect.

There is only One who was perfect, and He's the only One who has the excuse to throw stones.

Now here is the good news:

Christ died for all men.

All men.


That includes the gay community. He didn't come to earth and say, "Hey, I'm going to be tortured and crucified, but my sacrifice IS ONLY FOR THE HETEROSEXUAL COMMUNITY."

Did He say that?

Show me in the Bible where Jesus said that.

If you can't see your own hypocrisy in this, then we're done here.

But I pray and hope that you'll take a look at Matt. I pray and hope that you'll remember that Matt, just like people in the gay community, was a social outcast in his day. And I pray and hope that you'll remember that Christ's love and grace was extended to Matt, NO MATTER WHAT.

But especially, I pray and hope that all of you will come to your senses and for once in your petty, selfish, hypocritical lives will see your own sins before you judge the sins of others -- and that you will show some grace and love to people who Jesus died for, too.

And now I'll pray for myself, because this little blogging exercise has put me in the judgment seat against you.

And that's not my place to judge you. If I do, I'm no better than you were when you went to Chick-fil-A.


  1. You're a brave, honest and loving person. If only more could be like you.

    I didn't memorize Matthew, but I was very grounded in the Bible. I had gold pins that signified over ten years of perfect attendence to Sunday School.

    I have the same Achilles heel that you sruggle with, and it's hard to turn the other cheek with those who are so controled by fear and hate.

    I know that this is a Christian Safehouse, but I'm fast becoming an EXChristian.

    Thanks a lot for your insight.


  2. Hey, Dave, thank you for your kind and honest reply.

    The only thing I would urge you to consider is this:

    The fear and hate that people are professing is not of God.

    We know that God is love. God does not support what many people do in His name. Unfortunately, when they do it and claim that they know Him, it triggers a response in others to walk away from Him.

    He loves you so much. And you may be more of a Christian than you realize. Don't forget that Jesus sided with those who were characterized as "sinners" repeatedly, and He turned his back on those who claimed to be righteous.

    When He did that, the "righteous" had Him crucified.

    You're not alone in your feelings. Anytime you want to chat in real time, you can find me on Twitter at

    God bless you,