What the heck does that mean?
According to Urban Dictionary, the term has three “definitions” (I use the term “definitions” extremely loosely):
- When a person has taken the moral high-ground or are just up themselves, they are being “Holier-than-thou”. Holier-than-thou literally means, holier than me or better than me.
- Refers to someone that is stuck-up, or a snob. They must ALWAYS be the leader, and they are always a good leader. Ironically, they always have numerous faults, but never EVER admit to them.
- Acting like one is superior to others, condescending
Definer #1: you were close when you said “Holier-than-thou literally means holier than me”. Literally literally, it means “holier than you”. You, in the general sense, not “me”, in the personal sense. (There I go, being all black-and-white again…).
Definer #2: Did you really just say that someone who is holier-than-thou is “always a good leader”?? By all means, let’s pick the idiot out of the bunch to lead us because we wouldn’t want to give that holier-than-thou person any more reason to feel good about themselves!
Definer #3: The perception of “acting” is on the person watching the act. Ask Brad Pitt if he’s “acting” when he puts on 50 lbs (the horror!!) and stops using his ProActiv for a role. He will tell you he actually becomes the character. If you think they are “acting superior to others”, it’s most likely because you feel inferior in some way. Take that crumb and nosh on it for a while!
Let me be my literal optimistic Christian self. Holy means, (according to The BIBLE, not Urban Dictionary) “worthy of worship or veneration; sacred; divine; consecrated or set apart for sacred use; living according to a highly moral spiritual system”. Therefore, “holier-than-thou” means one exhibits those characteristics *more* than another person. It also, in its very nature, is a sliding scale, Jesus Christ being the most holy, most perfect, most divine. I’m not the holiest person, but I know I’m holier than Jeffery Dahmer and Phillip Garrido. Now, is the term such a bad thing when you think of it with that perspective? The shocker is that I am inspired by those holier-than-me. I have a lot to learn from them!
If you aren’t a Christian (you’re still reading this blog? Kudos to you!), let me tell you what Christians believe:
We believe we are children of God. That we are chosen and blessed. That we will have eternal life in the presence of God. That we are saved. That we are alive in Christ. That we are born again, forgiven of sins by Christ’s death on the cross, and to live according to God’s Will. We are taught to love and pray for our enemies, even as they persecute us. We are taught that we WILL be persecuted, but character is built and our relationship with God is strengthened by this persecution.
I DO believe that is a “better” or “superior” option than the alternative.
Admittedly, I have not always been “holier-than-thou” in the literal sense. I sinned in thought, word, and deed. I lived by The Golden Rule, though it was filled with talking smack, wishing ill-will, and holding contempt in my heart.
Even as I write this, I know, should this fall into the hands of my persecutors, there will be eye-rolling and gossip about my holier-than-thou attitude. To that, I refer to James 3: 1-2, 6:
“Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check… The tongue is also a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”
My Life Application Bible has this to say about the motivation of our speech:
Your speech is motivated by Satan when it is filled with bitter envy, selfish ambition, Earthly concerns and desires, unspiritual thoughts and ideas, disorder, and evil.
Your speech is motivated by God and his wisdom when it is filled with mercy, love for others, peace, consideration for others, submission, sincerity/impartiality, righteousness.
(man, I love my Bible)
I pray for my persecutors, that they may be content in their own lives. I pray that, should they read the words on this page, that they may come to understand the sincerity with which I speak. I pray that God may find them, that he may soften their hearts and strengthen their character to be “holier-than-thou”, because this world would be a kinder place should we all live by those principles of holy living.
I thank those who have persecuted me. Thank you for allowing me to open my heart to forgiveness. Thank you for giving me challenges that strengthened my own character. Thank you for encouraging me to tame my tongue, cleanse my thoughts, and grow from my obstacles. I am who I am, in part, due to you.
Now, I ask those of you who made it through this post, are you holier-than-thou?