6 Healing with Spiritual Practices heeding direct communication from God and wise people. So virtues spring from within, but having said that, we admit that it is not that simple. If it were, the virtuous person would always be virtuous. Rather, psychology tells us that situations are powerful. They provide external cues that trigger behavior directly, trigger internal cues (i.e., thoughts, feelings, memories, associations, reflexes, intuitions) that become salient and guide behavior, and trigger internal sequences of practiced behaviors (i.e., habits) that are engaged in almost automatically. People might value virtues, but situations can temporarily dominate behavior, subduing internal values in a particular situation. Furthermore, humans have many self-serving biases and heuristics of which they are unaware, and those biases and heuristics can short-circuit usual valued virtues. Virtue-Vice Dissonance Religious people try to build character virtues and reduce vices. There is not a one-to-one correspondence, but usually practicing vices puts us out of sorts with the Divine, community, close relationships, and our own psycho- logical integrity. Typically, religious people’s goal is to act consistently with deeply held valued virtues and not succumb to temptations to engage in vices. Psychologically, this is a human desire. Humans usually strive to be consistent. According to social identity theory,6 people identify with salient social groups (and with the people within them). They categorize and identify themselves with groups that establish their self-images.6 Individuals remain in groups that share their values and are beneficial to them. Religious com- munities are formed and operate upon shared values. In Christianity, fellow believing Christians are seen as being adopted into a common family by God (Rom. 8:15). Thus, Christian identity, as in other religious groups, is partially rooted in communities of fellow believers—as well as with identification with God through Jesus. In fact, people have numerous social identities that are defined by the dif- ferent social groups with which they identify. Having several social identities relates to health because this gives people a larger social-support network to cope with stress.7,8 But Christians whose identities are rooted within the con- gregations to which they belong—and perhaps other groups that overlap with people in their Christian congregations—still endure interpersonal transgressions within their own congregation. People stay in organizations and social groups that agree with their self-concept. They seek to align their inner virtues and their outward situations that trigger consonant virtues. This is because all people have various social identities that organize their inner and outer lives.6,7 For some people, social identity is strong and consis- tent. For others, social identity is less well formed and organized and is
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