Thinking can detect the hypocrisy in others

By Dr. Donald DeMarco
Catholic Life

The classic excuse among “liberal” Catholics for not opposing abortion is that they would not think of imposing their views on others. One may recall Vice President Joe Biden emphasizing this point during the 2012 vice-presidential debate with Cong. Paul Ryan.

Though Biden affirmed that he has been a practicing Catholic all his life, he did not want to impose his Catholic views on anyone else. “I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews,” he stated, “and I just refuse to impose that on others, unlike my friend here, the – the congressman. I – I do not believe that we have a right to tell other people that – women, they can’t control their body.”

Superficially, this declaration is appealing to many since it makes Biden appear highly respectful of others and admirably self-restrained. It is nonetheless bogus, since opposition to abortion is not peculiarly Catholic, but essentially humanitarian.

Human beings precisely as human beings should oppose the slaughter of other human beings. To be a Catholic does not mean that one’s views are irrelevant to the welfare of others. One would not say, “My church opposes domestic violence, but I refuse to impose that view on others.”

When President Barack Obama proclaims, “I believe in choice,” he also appears to repudiate imposing his values on others. But again, the appeal is superficial. Choices can have dire consequences. To believe in choice but ignore the consequences of choices is the very definition of irresponsibility. The president would have been more honest if he stated the corollary: “I believe in being irresponsible.”

Superficial rhetoric can be appealing to people who do not think. Thinking does not coincide with hearing. It begins when hearing leaves off. When one hears words such as “impose” or “choice,” one wants to think about what they mean in a living context that goes far beyond the mere enunciation of certain buzzwords. One also wants to test the integrity of those who employ such words by comparing their words with their actions. Does President Obama really believe in “choice,” and does he really avoid “imposing” values on others?

Before Obama made his July 2015 visit to Kenya, 700 Kenyan evangelical pastors wrote an open letter to the American president urging him not to come to their country to promote the homosexual agenda. Bishop Mark Kariuki, the main drafter of the letter, represents 38,000 churches and 10 million Kenyan Christians.

“We do not want him to come and talk on homosexuality in Kenya or push us to accepting that which is against our faith and culture,” he wrote.

Obama had little regard for the choices of the Kenyan people and told them that outlawing homosexual acts is “wrong,” while comparing Kenya’s policy toward homosexuals with the treatment of blacks in the United States prior to the civil rights movement. This invidious comparison angered American blacks.

“President Obama is a disgrace to the black community,” said the Rev. William Owens of the Coalition of African-American Pastors.

“He is rewriting history,” he told Breitbart News. “We didn’t suffer and die for gay marriage.”

President Obama’s rejection of Kenya’s choices and attempt to impose a homosexual agenda on her people was met with scorn by a number of African bishops. Yet, Obama appears to have escalated imposing to the level of using force.

Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of Oyo, Nigeria, has stated that Africa’s position on homosexuality has proved to be an obstacle in gaining American assistance in fighting Boko Haram. He avowed that the U.S. has made it clear to him that it would not help Nigeria fight Haram unless his country modified her laws concerning homosexuality.

If one engages in the act of thinking and is not mesmerized by the rhetorical words he hears, he will soon realize that neither President Obama nor Vice President Biden believes in either “choice” or refraining from “imposing” values.

Strangely enough, thinking seems to be disappearing from society. The media are, more than anything else, in the business of entertaining their viewers. To a certain extent, entertainment helps to release us from the tensions of everyday living. We can turn on the TV after a hard day, relax, and let ourselves be entertained without having to think through things. Entertainment, nonetheless, should not exclude thinking.

Thinking can expose hypocrisy. Christ denounced this sin when he made reference to wolves in sheep’s clothing: “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matt. 7:15).

Matthew Henry, author of a six-volume Exposition of the Old and New Testaments (1708-10), may have stated the point more trenchantly when he wrote: “Hypocrites do the devil’s drudgery in Christ’s livery.”

Hypocrisy is generally condemned, but only when it is noticed. The problem is to be able to notice it when it appears. In order for this to take place, thinking must be exercised. We should not want to form our opinions by infection, like catching a cold, or being spellbound by superficial rhetoric. Thinking is essential in strengthening our intellectual immune system and protecting us against alien and malicious notions.

But thinking is not merely a self-defense tactic; it is essential in helping us to discern and follow the line of truth. Through thinking, we can detect the hypocrisy in others, but perhaps more important, it helps is to detect the hypocrisy in ourselves.

Dr. Donald DeMarco is a senior fellow of Human Life International and professor emeritus at St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo, Ontario. This article appeared in the Jan. 14 edition of The Wanderer and is reprinted with permission.

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