It is amazing how much the words of Jesus apply to our modern era and cut right to the hypocrisy of our worldly ways.
Then and Now
While He was carrying His cross to Calvary, a group of sobbing women met him along the way. According to Luke 23:28-29, He said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For the days are surely coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’” What an indictment of our current world in which birth control and abortion are praised as tools of “women’s reproduction rights.” Worse yet, could anyone ever have imagined that there would be self-identifying “women” who do not have wombs to bear children or breasts that can nurse?
In Matthew 18:15, Jesus instructed His followers how to address a person who has wronged you. “If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.” Only after that fails, do you bring in another friend, and, then if nothing else works, go public. But do we even have private, face-to-face conversations anymore? How often is our first resort to “post” our offended feelings through social media?
Finally, Jesus indicts the Pharisees several times in the Gospels for their hypocrisy, but one verse which is particularly applicable to our times is Matthew 23:5-6: “They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues …”
The Oxford Dictionary defines the term virtue signaling as “the action or practice of publicly expressing opinions or sentiments intended to demonstrate one’s good character or the moral correctness of one’s position.” They do all their deeds to be seen by others.
So rather than privately seeking out people with whom we disagree politically or socially to listen and learn more about them and their opinions, we post derogatory terms about them on social media to show the world how enlightened we are. Instead of quietly developing real relationships with people who hold different views regarding race, religion, sexual orientation, or politics, we march in parades to broadcast that we are not bigoted, homophobic, sexist, or racist—like them.
Rather than carry on respectful, individual, face-to-face conversations with people who hold different views than ours, we carry signs to literally shove and shout in their faces. Whenever we claim offense and injury to merely hear someone whose opinion is different than ours, we are helping to prevent that other person from speaking at all. Whenever we assume to know the motives behind a person’s political or moral views even before we listen to them, we are misrepresenting and debasing that other person.
Whenever we exaggerate, misrepresent, denigrate, or dismiss the views of another without having “met that person where he/she is,” we are presenting that person as one who is not worthy of speaking at all. Whenever we speak, act, or make decisions based upon how we will be perceived by those whom we wish to impress, rather than what is morally right, we are as hypocritical as the Pharisees.
Pharisees on Twitter
If the Pharisees lived today, they would doubtlessly be the most avid purveyors of social media. Just imagine the Facebook posts (“Here I am seated at the head of Caiaphas’ table”), the selfies (“Praying at the Temple in my new robes!”), the Instagrams (“The dinner at Herod’s place—amazing!”), and the texts (“Thank God I’m not a tax collector!”) Can we see ourselves in these posts? And can you imagine what would have been posted about Jesus?
When we “virtue-signal” about ourselves, we are falling victim to the most deceiving and dangerous sin: Pride. It only serves to signify our own great insecurity and weakness. Worst of all, when we dismiss others for merely holding different opinions than our own, we fail to see them as God sees all people—as children of God. Virtue signaling will not defeat the evils of this world; in fact, it only exacerbates them.
If we are truly virtuous in the way Jesus intended us to be, we won’t need to send any signals to anyone, and certainly not to God. He will already know. And ultimately, His is the only “like” we need to worry about.