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)”