Help me out here with a thought exercise. Consider the following:
A man, a faithful church-goer and by all accounts a pious man, throughout all of his adult life has emphatically stated that adultery is morally wrong and a sin causing grievous harm to the integrity of the marriage. He has never believed otherwise. One day, he falls into temptation, succumbs to the seduction of woman who is not his wife, and commits adultery. His unfaithfulness is discovered, and his friends and family have different reactions. Some argue he is a horrible hypocrite and should be treated as such. Others argue that he is not at root a hypocrite, but he is a man who engaged in hypocritical activity but is not a true hypocrite. Yet others believe he did not even engage in hypocritical behavior. They do not justify or palliate his actions, but point out that he was and is not a hypocrite but simply a man who failed to live up to the standards he believes are right.
Here are my questions:
- Which group would you fall into (if any)? Describe another group you’d fall into if need be.
- Do other factors come into play in evaluating this scenario (e.g. contrition, forgiveness, the man’s future intentions regarding adultery, etc.)?
- What is your operating definition of “hypocrisy” and/or “hypocrite”? Please, no dictionary definitions.
I’m most interested in answers to question 3 but would appreciate the other answers as well.