Christians and virtue

Posted on July 24, 2013 by

From a comment following Hearthie’s article, Order of Operations:

I get tired of people assuming that Christians are automatically more virtuous than everyone else, for a few reasons:

1) They might have recently converted and still be far away from where they are headed in their personal development. You can be totally sincere and on fire for Jesus, and still be a class A jerk and a lazy slob. Jesus will give you an “E” for your efforts, even if nobody else notices. It’s not like there’s a magic wand waved over you at your baptism, that instantaneously takes away all of your bad habits.

2) Virtue is the practice of good habits, and anyone can form good habits. What Christianity offers is the support of grace in the formation of those habits. So, it is not that we are necessarily more virtuous, but that we have less excuse for our vices and are held to a higher standard of behavior.

3) It makes Christianity seem like a club for the already perfected, which it isn’t, and discourages those with a surfeit of vices from wanting to join. It also discourages those of us already in the club from trying to eliminate our personal vices.

I had mentioned that I specifically sought out a Christian to marry (for compatibility and out of a sense of tribal loyalty; I now belong to a different race from the rest of humanity and I’m against interracial marriages 😉 ), and then pointed out that he’s quite virtuous. More virtuous than most men I’ve met, and that I found that virtue attractive.

And people conflated the two: the state of being Christian and the state of being unusually virtuous. But they are actually two separate things that are correlated. They are not synonymous, anymore than virginity is synonymous with chastity.

Posted in: Religion