Just not the kind of love portrayed in Hallmark cards, Valentines and sloppy sentiment. There are perhaps three types of true love that remain in the world. The meme above, my kind of gratuitous, irreverent humor, represents the third kind of true love, which I will get to. The second true love is the self sacrificial love of spouses for one another, or parents for their children. That love reflects the kind of love Christ has for His people, the Church, which, when reciprocated even imperfectly, is the first kind of true love. Notice I didn’t include the love of children for their parents. That’s not quite so enduring, since duty and guilt gets mixed in.
It is the third kind of true love I want to deal with here. A recent lecture sponsored by Hillsdale College and printed in their marvelous free publication, Imprimis, given by Roger Kimball (editor and publisher of The New Criterion and publisher of Encounter Books), speaks so eloquently to that third kind of love: “It is an attack on the past for failing to live up to our contemporary notions of virtue. In the background is the conviction that we, blessed members of the most enlightened cohort ever to grace the earth with its presence, occupy a moral plane superior to all who came before us. It represents not the blunt expression of power or destructiveness but rather the rancorous, self-despising triumph of political correctness. The exhibition of wounded virtue, of what we now call “virtue-signaling,” is key. Consider some recent events at Yale University, an institution where preening self-infatuation is always on parade.”
What is “it” that he refers to? Specifically, the hunger to eradicate evidence of past sins by covering or destroying monuments of the past—portraits or statues of famous people and the like, but the driving force of this self-righteousness is the third type of true love, love of one’s own virtue.
“For the common run of mankind, I suspect, the highest earthly pleasure is self-righteous moral infatuation. Like a heartbeat, moral infatuation has a systolic and diastolic phase. In the systolic phase, there is an abrupt contraction of sputtering indignation: fury, outrage, high horses everywhere. Then there is the gratifying period of recovery: the warm bath of self-satisfaction, set like a jelly in a communal ecstasy of unanchored virtue signaling. The communal element is key. While individuals may experience and enjoy moral infatuation, the overall effect is greatly magnified when shared.” That paragraph helpfully sums up the pleasure and symptoms of love of one’s own virtue. In the western part of the world of today, that’s the most persistent kind of love.I say “western world” because so much of the rest of the world is too engaged in the daily struggle for existence to think about, let alone advertise their virtue. But what does the Bible say human virtue? “Every man is stupid and without knowledge; every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols, for his images are false, and there is no breath in them. They are worthless, a work of delusion; at the time of their punishment they shall perish.” Jeremiah 10:14-15. Self Virtue is the modern idol.