Apparently, there is some controversy with Miss America (again). From the story I saw on the morning news about this (yes, it actually was that news worthy) the current Miss America wanted to be some sort of advocate for domestic violence and now it turns out she engaged in…wait for it…hazing in college and so was kicked out of her sorority. I don’t know if that constitutes hypocrisy or not, though the morning news certainly tried to spin it that way, but it does raise an interesting question: why is hypocrisy newsworthy?
It seems that if not daily then certainly weekly some public figure it caught up in a “scandal” that reveals they weren’t the upright, moral, stand-out, flawless, perfect, good, human being we thought (made?) them to be.
Our culture has a problem: we don’t understand human nature. We think, hear, talk, share and buy into the concept that human beings are “good” (though what that means in a relativistic society is another topic). Thus, when someone like Ray Rice (who has even dressed up as Santa Claus for House of Ruth) beats his wife we are shocked.
The problem is not so much that good people are doing bad things (occasionally) but that there is no such thing as a good person.
Biblically, human nature is fundamentally bad. In terms of theology, this is called Total Depravity and is part of the Doctrines of Grace. What this means is that we cannot do good apart from the grace of God. If someone goes out of their way to help an elderly person cross the road they are doing so only because of God’s common grace that he has poured out on the just and the unjust. As Jesus put it, “apart from me you can do nothing.”
Because our culture teaches the exact opposite we are left with all sorts of “problems” the most pressing perhaps being, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” But a Christian should always respond to that question by pointing out that their underlying assumption is false: there is no such thing as a good person. So we shouldn’t be surprised when it turns out someone has a checkered past or a questionable present with a dubious future suddenly in view. Because we understand that fundamentally speaking, human identity cannot be separated from imperfection.
Unfortunately, we prop up imperfect people and then get mad at them when it turns out they weren’t the ones we thought they were. We invent myths about their goodness and worship them: we copy their style, we buy the products they buy, we try to conform ourselves to their image never realizing that they cannot deliver us from our own dis-satisfactions with life. The saddest part of the whole story is the only true Good One came long ago; he was propped up on a hill for all to see. It is only by believing in the One who was lifted up that our checkered past can be made white as snow and when we mess up in the future we can be assured that it has already been forgiven.
Now that is newsworthy.