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The Tragedy of the Self-Righteous Christian

I am sure 99.57% of my non-Christian readers will never believe this, but…

…to be Christian and self-righteous at the same time is a contradiction in terms…

It ought to be a paradox.

The Gospels are quite clear. Besides depicting Jesus dining with “prostitutes and publicans” without feeling any urge to lecture and condemn them, references abound on concentrating on one’s own real problems instead of anybody else’s purported issues.

“Motes and beams” come to mind from Luke 6:41-42:

41 Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
42 How can you say to your brother, `Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s. 

Also the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector from Luke 18:10-14 could not be clearer:

10 Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
11 The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: `God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector.
12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.
13 But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, `God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14 I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.


And yet obviously the vast majority of Christians prominently appearing in pulpits and news do indeed sound a lot more self-righteous than the average person.

Take for example the whole debate about homosexuality as a sin.

As a RC myself, it is not yet clear to me if the Vatican takes that view, or restricts the “sin” to the actual sexual intercourse between consenting adults of the same gender. Officially, they say the latter is true. However, this would clearly contradict Matthew 5:27-28:

27 “You have heard that it was said, `You shall not commit adultery.’
28 But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart


Personally I don’t think God pays any interest in the sexual mores of a person as long as there is love behind them (with consent, adulthood, etc etc).

Anyway, centuries ago actors and non-baptized children were not deemed worthy of Christian burials, and attitudes have (slowly) evolved beyond that.

So it can be expected that in two or three hundred years all the “Christian” debate about allowing homosexuals as bishops, or in a Church at all could be seen as a giant waste of time, as puzzling as early-Church discussions of the existence of a soul in a woman’s body.


Unfortunately, self-righteousness is much more than that: it is a tragedy and a scandal.

  • It is a scandal, as by shouting out (in the example above) against homosexuality, priests and Christians of all kinds of denominations are actively trying to deny other people the possibility of Salvation.

It would be like asking a person to choose: either eat or love God. I am afraid most would choose the former.

And so who knows how many people have been persuaded by their local priest or bishop… to become atheists!

  • It is also a tragedy, as the recurring appearance in history of a certain kind of rigid, unloving and definitely uncharitable attitude of self-righteousness among the Christians, leaves the nagging doubt: is there something intrinsically un-Christian in Christianity itself?

It has not to be that way. After all it is hard to hear about Christians that truly keep to Matthew 6:3-4:

3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
4 so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

The best Hope and strongest foundation is the work of thousands of less publicity-prone people that actually do love God and their neighbours.

ps Am I suggesting Christian Churches should stop talking about their beliefs? No, I am saying Christian Churches should concentrate on the souls they’ve been gifted with, rather than pontificate about the ones they are currently refuting to accept. The commandment to love one’s neighbour as oneself carries no conditions.

10 replies on “The Tragedy of the Self-Righteous Christian”

I’m sick of perfect smug Christians who brag about how early they get up how early they pray, how many souls they win to jesus, how much better and holier they are than you. I sit up late nights writing articles about how disgusted I am with them. I don’t write too good in the morning when My brain’s on autopilot Is god gonna send me to hell because I pray at 6 P.M. instead of 6 A.M. that’s a lot of b.s. I’m a person, not a stereotype, and if they can’t live with that, tough beans!

“The commandment to love one’s neighbour as oneself carries no conditions.”

That is true, but love does not mean that their sin is acceptable. Sin needs to be repented.

It’s tragic people are made to believe they must scorn others in order to be true to their faith. Other people’s sex lives are none of our business as long as they’re not harming anyone. What a pity that Christianity does not have a stong line against rapists an paedophiles.

Don’t try to justify the early christian church’s sins and faults as OK compared to other (canonical gospels) religious faults. Please realize that the self righteous view and lifestyle of Christianity is at the backbone of our social demise. It’s all a lie.

i think you hit the nail on the head in regards to self-righteousness not being truly christian.

i know this wasnt a big point of yours, but i think its important to understand that the early church wasnt questioning the soul of women. the gnostic gospel of thomas (which has the ridiculous claim that mary must become a man to be saved) wasnt written until earliest mid 2nd century.

the canonical Gospels were written all within the 1st century and matthew and mark thought to be written by about 50-60 AD.

so the early church wasnt arguing with this thing. but as well, even when the thomas gospel came out, it was only a select few who believed such silly things. there were a significant amount of gnostics, but not many who felt women didnt have salvation.

while the early church was far from perfect, it did have a lot less heresy than revisionist historians like to try to portray. there is a reason we didnt find the nag hammadi library until recently. if the gnostic texts were so prevalent there would have been many more texts found.

compared with the canonical gospels, which have an overwhelming amount of manuscripts (more than any other ancient document by a long shot).

i am not saying that this proves that there wasnt any argument about the topic, but looking at the facts, and the teachings of Jesus, it isnt really fair to the early church to say they were struggling with the issue.


thank you fredericthewise for your comment.

I shall post more detailed views on homosexuality as a sin in another blog.

For now let’s suffice that I don’t believe we Christians should point fingers to anybody anywhere…apart from the merchants in the Temple, that is, and the hypocrites among us. That’s what Jesus did, after all.

U sound like U R rationalizing. Jesus was very specific in telling people not to sin. It specifically says homosexuality is sin. When Jesus spoke to the rich young ruler and told him what he must do to follow Jesus, he could not and walked away. As he walked away, Jesus did NOT offer him any conciliation. Just as He offers me none. Jesus says He is the only way to the Father. No rationalization necessary. UR either in or out. Before I became a Christian I was the original “good works” person. I was shocked when I read the Bible and found out my good works don’t get me into heave. No rationalizing. So, I had to change my tactics and do it God’s way. The only way. Why is it so hard to accept the fact that sin is sin? We cannot stop the sun from rising or setting. Nor can we change God’s order of things.
Give it up. Remember there R 2 roads, narrow and wide. Jesus say’s there are few on the narrow road. We get to choose.

You are right about the contrast between Jesus and the modern Christian – we are sinners save by grace we have no right to be arrogant in the least
However we must still defend what the bible accepts as right behavior and fight what is wrong.
I am not talking about victimising people but addressing problems that appear.
We must understand that the bible considers homosexuality a sin – no one is innocent of sin, but we have to, as Christians recognise specific sins and change challenge them, especially in ourselves but also not accept that sort of action in ourselves.
Jesus ate with tax collector – that doesn’t mean he thought they were right.
As you said, he didn’t attack them, he ate with them – but when it came down to it, he would say things like ‘go, and sin no more’ he didn’t just accept tat they were born sinners and just let it go.

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