This just in: A bigoted woman lands a stint as a teacher in some small potato parochial school in smalltown America. Why? The administration was impressed by her doctrinal opposition to distorting the fabric of a monogamous, “man and woman” marriage.
Incidentally, she has been ruthlessly cheating on her husband for years, and only now has she been caught.
In this little story about moral hypocrisy, I could not help but wonder about all these other hypocrites who meet us and greet us every day without revealing their true face.
Hypocrites hiding in a plain sight: what can we do about them?
Sherry (let’s just call her that) —mostly because of her love for alcohol abuse— is, simply put, a hypocrite. She is a high school teacher in a religious school who claims and pretends to have high moral beliefs, but behind the closed doors behaves in a way that buries these principles deep in the ground.
In public, Sherry is the first one to condemn adultery and peck to death those who cheat on their spouse. If you listen to Sherry, you would think that she is the most devout Christian, the mother, the wife, the moral example to young Americans.
But who exactly is Sherry?
The Sherrys of our times are false role models to our children
Sherry comes from a working class family in the American South. With no real education, yet ruthless in her ambition to find a husband who would give her a full ride, she left her home at the age of sixteen.
She quickly realized that signing up for a good ole’ church membership and playing up the “poor me” card of a victim would get her a long way in life. Her plan worked perfectly.
Soon enough Sherry got married. While actively preaching frugality and condemning the rich in that little town of her, in reality she took a full control over her husband’s salary, afforded him only pocket change, purchased several cars, hired a gardener and somehow managed, in addition to all of that, to pile on twenty-thousand dollars of debt onto her husband’s credit cards.
Yet, in public, you could hear Sherry preaching her tales of victimization, all while splashing on several vacations in one summer, all that in the name of some patronizing narrative she would preach at the church on Sundays.
As the years went by, Sherry’s appetite for power got bigger. Massive. Outstretching the country boundaries of the Americana Southern town she so humbly resided in. She wanted a job of public recognition. Since her resume could not get her any job except for the summer gigs as a lifeguard on public pool sites, she decided to pull out the strongest credential she had: her church affiliation.
She went on to apply for a teaching position in the local religious school.The most crucial part of her application for the job was a moral and doctrinal statement that stipulated that she did not support extramarital affairs.
She signed the doctrinal statement despite being steeped in adultery, a frenzy of lust that went on for years. During all that time, Sherry kept the mask of a moral wife, she who sacrificed a lot for her family.
Sherry installed herself in a safe harbor. No one would be suspicious or be doubtful of her double life, fraught with hypocrisy.
How do we determine morality?
Hypocrisy is not easy to spot, mostly because no one really knows what is going on behind the closed doors.
We learn in the media of pastors committing child abuse, distinguished professors invalidating the rules of moral ethics, military officers and holders of public office committing infidelity. David Petraeus. How did they prove their moral beliefs? By filling in the questionnaires and showing up in the church on time every Sunday? By making public statements that in reality meant nothing to them?
The prima facie problem with the community membership moral requirement is that it does not get tested. We have to distinguish between forced morality and innate morality. Are you moral because you truly believe in the values you preach or out the fear of the punishment?
These are two different things and if morals is not truly internalized, it just allows for the false prophets and hypocrites to hide among those who committed their lives to serving true values.
Innate morality is the question of integrity and has to be evident in an internalized empirical practice both in the public and private scopes of life. Those who do not practice what they preach should be called out and exposed for their doings.Their dark secrets should not be covered up under duress. They need that prophetic spotlight, aureoling transparency upon the wastelands of lies, unfettered deceit. That cure, that special cure that only truth knows oh so well.
Becoming the accomplice in hypocrisy and abuse of public trust
Parents of American youth who decide to enroll their children into religious schools do so in the hopes of their kids being mentored by those who hold up to the most stringent standards of morality and personal integrity.
Sherry has broken the trust of her husband, which is a private matter and not the subject to public scrutiny. However, what is the subject of public scrutiny is the fact that she has abused the trust of the parents who signed up their children to be schooled by people who practice their stated religious beliefs.
Sherry manipulated the public, the community, her children and her husband. She shamelessly kept on abusing all the trust and privileges both her marriage and church affiliation have given to her. All that until one day, her lover has decided to come forward and disclose their affair to the husband.
Sherry first denied the whole story and tried to minimize the whole event. “What are you talking about, it is not a big deal,” she said. The husband broke down and wanted to speak up, but she forced him to cover up for her secret. Why would anyone hide something like that you may ask? It would not make any sense.
Portraying herself as a devoted wife in public, Sherry has threatened her husband to falsely accuse him of an affair in case he tells someone what she did. She reasoned that everyone would first believe a woman — and more importantly, a mother with children — of her husband’s infidelity before ever seeing her as an actual adulteress. After all, she signed the doctrinal statement which condemns extramarital affairs. All configured upon a lie, the farce, the myth that was her supposed moral code, the basis upon which she had been accepted into the religious community, from which she has enjoyed so many privilege.
You would assume that those teaching at the religious schools in America would be subject to thorough screening. You would assume that the teachers who sign these rubber-stamp doctrinal statements should be able to practice what they claim to be their truth. You would assume that those who evaluate them would be adept at spotting a hypocrite who is living among them.
However, every day there is a story in the news that shows us that we were so naive to believe those to whom we have entrusted our children. Like government, as does our society work: failure, mistrust, broken honor.
Matthew said: “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward,” Matthew 6:5
And yet, Sherry, and many like Sherry, keep up these false appearances and are able to put on similar grandiose acts so others may believe their false identities . They have no problem to deceive, to falsely accuse, to coerce, to cheat, and lie while veiling themselves under God’s expansive domain.
In the case of Sherry, it was also the responsibility of the husband to stop covering up the abuse of trust, the which was entrusted by all of the families who send their children to religious school to be taught by Sherry. While he may accept the breach of trust in his family life, it is unacceptable to support the hypocrisy of his wife in the public role she has.
Recently, this story appeared about one of the world’s most prominent ethicists, being accused of manipulating students to gain sexual advantage. The story was not new, but for the first time the professor’s name was fully revealed in public.
To quote the Bible, the favorite book of the hypocrites:
“Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.” (Luke 12:2 )