There’s a difference between Virtue Signaling and Biblical virtue. But they share one thing in common. Both show a desire for righteousness.
And that’s good. Because it confirms a shared sense of morality. An understanding of right and wrong. Good and evil. And that our human goodness should please someone.
I believe that someone to please is an absolute, righteous God. Although you might say it’s about pleasing other people. Which is also true.
But here are four differences between virtue signaling and Biblical virtue.
The Difference Between Virtue Signaling And Biblical Virtue is One Glorifies Yourself And The Other Glorifies God
Virtue Signaling is a moral goodness, pat yourself on the back. It proclaims my support of a worthy cause, behavior or group. And casts judgment on those who aren’t on board.
It lifts me up by lowering others.
Don’t we all just love to pile on with “me too” frenzy when public figures commit despicable acts? And feel better about ourselves since we are not like that.
Biblical virtue, however, focuses on God’s goodness.
Why? Because the Bible says I’m a sinner. And my goodness is really not all that good. And my righteousness falls way short of God’s standard.
Instead, I should strive for the righteousness God ascribes to me through Christ. And admit my sinful nature still makes me capable of despicable behavior.
The Difference Between Virtue Signaling And Biblical Virtue is One Is Driven By Pride And The Other Humility
Virtue signaling says look at me. See how moral I am? How righteous? Except the Bible calls this self-righteousness. Because it’s really pride in disguise. And a humble brag of moral superiority.
And ultimately, virtue signaling leads to the sin Jesus regularly condemned. Hypocrisy.
Because as sinners, we all commit moral failures.
And yet, God offers forgiveness. Which makes me thankful. Because He freely gives me what I can’t earn. And it fills me with a desire to imitate the humility demonstrated by Jesus.
Comparing To Other People Versus Comparing To Jesus Christ
The difference between virtue signaling and Biblical virtue is that virtue signaling compares to other people. And Biblical virtue compares to Jesus Christ.
And have you noticed? Virtue signaling compares down.
It looks for someone messing up more than me. Because there’s always someone…somewhere…at some time…morally messing up more than me. I just carefully pick the right one.
And I say carefully, because in some moral areas, I might be someone else’s pick.
Jesus models the righteousness I should pursue. Even though I’ll never reach his level. Because Jesus was God in human form. And perfect. And I’m not.
But I press on. Striving for a Godly righteousness I won’t fully attain. And following the one who did.
Condemnation And Shame Versus Grace
The difference between virtue signaling and Biblical virtue is virtue signaling is about condemnation. And Biblical virtue is about grace. The first sings my praises. The second praises God.
Because we all break God’s law. Are on the same, sinful playing field. And no one is better than anyone else.
And yet, God offers everyone grace. So we should offer it to others as well. Along with understanding. Compassion. And truth.
I understand the reason for virtue signaling. Without absolute standards, you can only measure your moral goodness by comparison.
But it’s always a shooting target. And never satisfying. The Bible however, provides God’s standard for righteousness. Tells us why it’s important. And how to attain it.
When you embrace the difference between virtue signaling and Biblical virtue. It will make a big difference in your life.
About Chip Tudor:
Chip Tudor is a freelance copywriter, published author, playwright and pastor. He publishes drama at www.chiptudor.com, books on Amazon.com, and articles on his blog.
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Enjoyed your clarification of moral virtue vs God’s goodness. The first compares me to others, seeking to find those who are less virtuous than me. God’s goodness starts with the premise that e will never attain righteousness. It’s why we need grace. And why it’s offered to all.
Thank you for the positive feedback, Silke. As I was writing this blog I realized two things:
1. Virtue signaling is not new. Jesus pointed it out numerous times. You see it in Luke 21:1-4 as Jesus points out the difference between the rich people putting their money into the Temple treasury compared to the widow who gave everything. You get the sense that the rich people made a public display of their giving. And then in Luke 18:9-14 the parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector. One was prideful and the other repentant.
2. I also realized I must be careful of my own pride and tendency to compare my righteousness to others. I can easily fall into that trap. That humility does not come natural or easy for me. Even as a Christ-follower, I must guard my attitude. And repent often.