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The Snare of Moral Grandstanding

Do some Christians harm their witness by falling into the trap of “moral grandstanding” or “virtue signaling”? Or do we convey the message that we are just as depraved as others? Clinical psychologist Joshua B. Grubbs writes about a recently published study which asked 6,000 Americans questions about their most important moral and political beliefs and how they communicate them to others.

Almost everyone admitted they were occasionally guilty of grandstanding--sharing their beliefs selfishly for respect or status. However, habitual grandstanders experienced conflicts in their personal relationships:

People who reported grandstanding more often also reported more experiences arguing with loved ones and severing ties with friends or family members over political or moral disagreements. People who indicated using their deepest held beliefs to boost their own status in real life also reported more toxic social media behaviors. (These include) picking fights over politics on Facebook and berating strangers on Twitter for having the “wrong” opinions.

Grubbs advises all grandstanders to check their motivations: “When you enter into contentious territory with someone who differs in opinion, ask whether you’re doing so because you’re genuinely interested in communicating and connecting with your fellow human. Or are you just trying to score points? ... Do you find yourself trying to one-up the good deeds of someone else to make yourself look good to people whose respect you crave?”


Joshua B. Grubbs, “Think twice before shouting your virtues online – moral grandstanding is toxic,” The Conversation.com (1-14-20)

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