The Pharisee thinks sin is a discreet external act. Righteousness before God is perfection in deed, in accordance with the law. Do you know anyone who is righteous on this model? Neither do I.
The Pharisee permits an insincere, abusive faith as long as it adheres to the letter of the law. Your heart can be as far from God as north from south, and the Pharisee won’t care. There is no relationship with God in spirit or flesh, only the binding terms of a painfully one-sided contract. To the Pharisee what matters is meeting those terms.
The suffering that privately indulged, publicly concealed sin wreaks on a man is no concern of the Pharisee, as long as the visible life he leads is virtuous. So goes the secular bargain, also. Never matter the turmoil of inner life. Stay productive and keep to an ethical decorum and society will thank you. It doesn’t work that way, though. Compartmentalization works on submarines, not in the mind.
In secularized society, it is considered very rude for the sins you are allowed to conduct out of sight to be aired for all to see and smell. Thus liberals have gone to great lengths to destigmatize sin and fund bureaucracies to insure sin’s victims against its consequences.
Publicly displayed righteousness is too often a show of managed and controlled sin, the Pharisee’s discipline of self-proving through the works of the law. Many a life was torn asunder from what everyone thought was perfectly normal and controlled. No one suspected the bridled passions boiling underneath until they detonated for all to see, taking family, friends, and coworkers as collateral damage. The Ashley Madison hack is a perfect example. When all is said and done, how many marriages will be broken when the dust has settled? How many marriages, that key organizational unit that ensures children grow up with their father who loves their mother, will husbands’ lust for other flesh destroy?
The lie of secularism is that our sins touch no one but ourselves, that whatever we do “in the privacy of our homes” has no effect on us outside our homes. The truth is fear of humiliation and dishonor cannot heal the brokenness of our souls.
My God gives righteousness freely to all who accept His Son’s righteous act of sacrifice for the redeeming of sins. We need less secular politeness and more Christian love. The commandment to bless others with generosity finds its motivation in God’s act of forgiveness and the dramatic spillover that occurs in the transformed life.
Related: “The Founders’ noble lie.”