Holiness spirals are not first a search for status, although once they have got going, they do result in an arms race to see who is holiest among the Pharisees, thus of the highest moral and political rank, and thus least suitable as a scapegoat.
They are, first, a search for the proper constraints of true holiness upon conduct. Men are Fallen, and live in a Fallen, corrupt world; and they know it. They want to get holy; they want desperately to get ritually pure. Until they can honestly feel that they have done so, they will feel terrific anxiety, and thrash about in their predicaments like a bear in a trap.
Trapped bears are very dangerous.
When there is no established sacerdotal hierarchy that can authoritatively define the unquestionable constraints of holiness, and then offer men a way to get back within those constraints when they have strayed beyond their pale – that can give them a way to know that they have reached safe harbor – then men are going to push and push toward holiness however they can discern it according to their own best lights, without let or correction, and without possibility of any satisfactory completion of the search (because a forecondition of success for any search is a clear definition of success – such as can be authoritatively furnished to the searcher only by an incontrovertible authority). Anyone who disagrees with the notions of those who find that as a result of their personal quest for holiness they themselves are of the holiest sort then becomes a legitimate scapegoat in their eyes, and so a social enemy. There is then mutual repudiation and scapegoating of adversarial sectarians; mutual excommunication; schism; and, with the ensuing conflict of irreconcilable cults, civil war either hot or cold.
The proliferation of sects is a natural result of the disestablishment of the absolute mundane authority over spiritual and moral affairs of a highly ordered and lawful sacerdotal hierarchy. It results from an honest and untrammeled distributed search for the bounds of a solution space via unconstrained competitive holiness spirals. As an arms race – this, even within the cranium of a single believer – that is focused on discovering, implementing and propagating the truths exemplified in an infinite purely formal configuration space, the competition inevitably gives rise to doctrinal innovations, some of which are bound to conflict with some other doctrines (or, to be just wrong: which is to say, heretical).
So you get schisms multiplying, and sooner or later fighting.
This is why we cannot expect cultural peace – not lack of violence, but true harmony, krasis, justice (which under the orbit of the moon in this Fallen world simply requires at least a bit of violence) – until there is again an established religion with a sacerdotal hierarchy, whose ukases have in principle ultimate authority and sway over all moral and spiritual matters – and thus, implicitly, political matters, including those that pertain to the secular sovereign.
To get ritual purity, you need enforceable canon law that specifies what it is; and to get enforceable canon law, you need judges and administrators of that law whose authority over temporal affairs flows down incontrovertibly from an infallible source; which is to say, bishops under the supervision of a universally recognized pontifex maximus.
So, you’re really going to want to have one established Church with a hierarchy staffed by obedient men promulgating a Tradition and endowed with numinous moral authority bestowed on them in the laying on of hands of an Apostolic Succession that derives in the first instance from God himself. The alternative is metastasizing cultural chaos.