Holier than Thou

I was using the Stumble Upon gadget yesterday to surf WordPress blogs when I happened on an Atheist’s website. This particular atheist was absolutely gleeful that South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford was caught up in the mess of having an extra-marital affair. The writer called Sanford “holier than thou,” referred to him as a hypocrite, and used his example as a reason Christianity is a sham. Sanford has made no secret of his faith and often quotes Scripture in the public arena.

I will make no defense of Sanford here. What he did was wrong. Apparently, he disappeared for a number of days during the course of his affair and I think that alone merits his resignation. However,  it was the phrase “holier than thou” that stuck out like a sore thumb to me. You hear it all the time from non-Christians. As a Christian, the phrase stings a little because it strikes against the core teachings of Christ. The whole point of Christianity is Grace. Grace is on the opposite spectrum from the “holier than thou” concept. Grace should be humbling. It should remind us that we are in no way “holier” than our non-Christian friends. It was Paul himself who said, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst (1 Timothy 1:15).”

There is no doubt that the “holier than thou” attitude is in no way a Christian attitude. Perhaps if more Christians would examine their lives and humble themselves in the name of Christ, we would all be cut a little slack from non-Christians when we make a mistake.

Granted, I have seen many non-Christians jump the gun to label someone as “holier than thou.” In many circles, you only need to profess a belief in Christ to receive such a label. It is often the first response of a non-Christian when someone is trying to share the Gospel with them. I believe this response is also born out of a misconception of Christ’s message. In my pre-Christian life I often claimed that I didn’t want a God who didn’t feel I was good enough for Him. It was quite the shocker when I learned that none of us are good enough for Him. There is no Christian or non-Christian that has ever lived that was “good enough” to deserve God’s grace. In light of this revelation, there is absolutely no room for a “holier than thou” attitude from anyone!

I enjoy debating my beliefs with non believers. I rarely hesitate to share the teachings of Christ when given the opportunity and I am confident that His Gospel can withstand any criticism aimed at it; however, I sincerely pray that in defending and sharing my faith I never come off as “holier than thou.” There is no doubt the charge will be leveled at all of us at times, but it is my desire to brand the words of Paul on my heart as a reminder that I’m no better than anyone else.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. (Timothy 1:15)”


9 thoughts on “Holier than Thou

  1. Ty June 27, 2009 / 12:14 pm

    Very nice, fine post, Clark.

    As for the original blogger, sorry, but hypocrisy doesn’t prove Christianity is a sham. We’re all human. We make mistakes. All of us are hypocrites at one time or another.

    As for the SC governor, it does bother me the attacks that have been made against the man, but he and his ilk bring it upon themselves to a certain extent. When you go around publicly telling others how they should live, then you shouldn’t be surprised to have the fingers pointed right back at you when you screw up. It’s human nature, and some see it only as just. Logically and spiritually I find it silly, but emotionally it makes sense to me to some extent.

    And concerning Christians and non-Christians, yep, by the Holy Bible’s standards all of us are sinners and unworthy. Unfortunately, too many Christians (and even non-Christians who quick to scream “hypocrisy”) have a tendency to pick and choose their sins. Homosexuality is out. Infidelity is okay, at least as long as you keep hush hush about it and no one finds out. Yes, I’m overgeneralizing, but it’s the general public perception of Christians in the U.S. nowadays. What Christianity really needs is major change from within, followed up by a strong PR campaign. Jesus told all of us to be examples. Too bad many Christians set a bad example, though admittedly they’re faulted humans like everyone.


  2. Clark Goble June 27, 2009 / 4:25 pm

    Thanks Ty … I like the phrase you use, “choose their sins.” There is probably a post that could be born out of it.


  3. Ty June 27, 2009 / 6:38 pm

    Thanks for the comment, Clark.
    And I wanted to change something I wrote above. I said what “Chrisitanity really needs is major change.” The more I thought about it, the more I believe that’s incorrect. Christianity doesn’t need to change, but many of those who call themselves Christians do need to change. If anything, in my opinion, Christians need to get back to the true roots of their religious doctrine.


  4. Aaron June 28, 2009 / 7:31 am

    Great post, Clark. I like the new digs here at the dot com (how long ago did you make the switch?)


  5. Clark Goble June 28, 2009 / 8:40 am

    Hey there Aaron … my wife purchased the domain for me as a father’s day present and it went online last Tuesday. It took me a couple of days to decide what theme I wanted to use. I must of went through 30 or 40 of them!

    If you ever want to get one for “Blogging Theologically,” I recommend godaddy.com …. it is very affordable on the monthly plan.


  6. Aaron June 28, 2009 / 8:57 am

    I’ve been thinking about it and will definitely consider it. Thanks!


  7. Todd French June 28, 2009 / 10:43 pm

    My thoughts on the Governor Sanford issue have been all over the place. Largely, I have settled upon accepting that he fell into sin like every human being to walk the planet has. He is responsible for his fall and accountable for its outcome. His fall ultimately means that his life was out of whack and his behavior didn’t match up to his ideals. It is a matter between his family, his wife, his God, and himself. Hopefully, he can get the breathing room to work all of that out.

    I am reminded of the words of Jesus, “Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.” Its time to move on and allow whatever God’s plan is for these people to work itself out. We should allow them the privacy to do that. (It would be easier if he had resigned though). If the people of South Carolina, (one of which I am not), are interested in dealing with this matter through their dully constituted representatives, then that is their business.

    Clark, I think your comments on this are dead on!


  8. Clark Goble July 1, 2009 / 5:36 pm

    Ty: I have been thinking your last comment in this thread for a few days now and I feel you are correct. I also don’t feel Christianity needs “major” change. In fact, most of the leaders and writers that try to inspire “major” change fail miserably because their theology is questionable. I believe Christianity is need of something a little more subtle. We need an attitude change if nothing else. The changes we need can be inspired and led from within the church.

    We’ve already had the Protestant Reformation … we don’t need another one.


  9. Shelley Blanton Rinella July 5, 2011 / 8:41 pm

    Wow. What a great post. To my knowledge, I’ve never met a Christian who believes he or she “earned” God’s grace. Our image doesn’t reflect the reality of THE church I’ve known since I was a child.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s