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If a man commits adultery today, it does not mean:
- That he was a hypocrite fifteen years ago when he said that another man’s adultery was foolish and wrong.
- That his religion has no value or that he has never worshipped God.
- That all statements of truth or value that he has ever made are to be disregarded.
- That things he has previously said were wrong or sinful are now more likely to be okay.
In short – the sinful part of hypocrisy is the fall, it’s not the statements about good and evil before the fall. And it’s only hypocrisy if the man is sinning at the same time that he is making value judgments.
On this issue – here is something from CS Lewis’ Screwtape Letters:
I have been writing hitherto on the assumption that the people in the next pew afford no rational ground for disappointment. Of course if they do—if the patient knows that the woman with the absurd hat is a fanatical bridge-player or the man with squeaky boots a miser and an extortioner—then your task is so much the easier. All you then have to do is to keep out of his mind the question “If I, being what I am, can consider that I am in some sense a Christian, why should the different vices of those people in the next pew prove that their religion is mere hypocrisy and convention?”