Author Gad Saad is a Lebanese-Canadian, evolutionary psychologist and a professor in the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University. While Dr. Saad is not a Christian, he is one of the leading voices exposing the harm and senselessness of political correctness in the US and Canada. In his most recent book, The Parasitic Mind: How Infectious Ideas Are Killing Common Sense, he explores the currently prevailing practice of what is called “virtue signaling.”
Virtue signaling occurs when people express moral outrage, primarily through social media, by hash-tagging a particular cause and subsequently doing nothing else to help that cause. Through “virtue signaling” people accomplish little else than to stroke their own egos by attempting to demonstrate through their social message that they are progressive and good people. Nonetheless, they are essentially all talk, and no action.
In his book, Saad ridicules “virtue signaling” and contrasts it alternatively and by way of example with the public display of valor known as “costly signaling” by an Amazonian tribe called the Sateré-Mawé. The particular act of “costly signaling” in question of the Sateré-Mawé people determines who in their tribe are the real warriors as opposed to those who simply talk a good game.
So, what is this “costly signaling”? Saad writes: “the Sateré-Mawé, an indigenous Amazonian tribe, have a very powerful way of differentiating prospective warriors from their fake counterparts. They sedate bullet ants, whose sting is akin to being shot (with a bullet), and then weave them into leaf gloves. Initiates wear the gloves for several minutes and must withstand the stings of hundreds of these ants as they come out of their sedated torpor. One sting causes unimaginable pain, and yet the inductees must withstand the suffering with restrained dignity (they cannot holler). . . . (It is) a rite of passage that serves as an honest signal of toughness and courage, and you’ve solved the problem of identifying the fakers.”
Wow, now that’s how to separate the men from the boys, the warriors from the wimps, and the committed from the counterfeit! And you know what? In a similar fashion, we as Christians are called upon by our Lord to differentiate ourselves clearly and committedly as His trustworthy followers rather than being untrustworthy fakers, who don’t simply blog about virtue, but show it, who walk the walk and not simply talk the talk. So, like the Sateré-Mawé tribesmen, how do we demonstrate through “costly signaling” rather than mere “virtue signaling” that we are completely committed Christ-followers? The following are three ways to do so.
- Publicly identify with the person of Jesus. We must openly and unashamedly admit that we belong to Jesus Christ. We live in a world dominated by a cancel culture that wants to silence the Christian message. We must be willing to make our allegiance known and our voices heard, regardless of the cost. In Lk. 9:26 Jesus said: “Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” 2 Tim. 2:8a says: “So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord.” In Rom. 1:16a Paul said: “I am not ashamed of the gospel.” Furthermore, in Luke 9:23-24 Jesus said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” A true disciple must sacrificially signal his or her identification with Jesus, even unto death.
- Faithfully be obedient to the Word of Jesus. A faithful follower of Jesus must routinely obey the Scripture, the Word of God. In John 14:15, Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commands.” 1 John 5:3 says: “In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands.” In John 15:10, Jesus said: “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” A true follower of Jesus does not merely know about biblical virtues, he or she lives them out by being demonstrably virtuous. James 1:22 says: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” In John 13:17 Jesus said: “Now that you know these things (about humble service), you will be blessed if you do them.” A true follower of Jesus is marked by finding out what the Bible says and actually doing it.
- Spiritually produce fruit in the name of Jesus. As true believers, we are to look like the Savior we serve through our moral character, Christian lifestyle, and personal influence on others to live for Christ. In John 15:8 Jesus said: “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” Furthermore, in John 15:16a Jesus said: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.” What does this spiritual fruit look like? Paul informs us in Gal. 5:22-23: “ . . . the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.” Jesus also informs us of similar spiritual fruit in the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:1-10) where disciples of Jesus are to be marked by being poor in spirit (dependent upon God), concerned for their sin (devotion to God), humble, hungering/thirsting for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, and possessing a willingness to be persecuted for Christ if necessary.
So, Christians, we need not be politically correct, but we must be biblically correct. We have got to do more than talk the talk of commitment to Christ, we must also walk the talk, like the Sateré-Mawé tribesmen. We must not merely state our Christian virtues through “virtue signaling,’ we must sacrificially live them out through “costly signaling” no matter the cost.
It’s our duty; it’s our privilege; it’s our calling!
Your friend & pastor,