Among religious members, virtue signaling is pretty common and prevalent. The same could be said among groups of singles. If you combine the two together, virtue signaling becomes commonplace among single members of our church. Why do people do this? Partly because of insecurity, but mainly as an effort to make them more attractive or impressive in some fashion—although the opposite effect often occurs. In single church circles specifically, the aim is often to come across as more spiritual, caring, or sensitive in an effort to appear to be a “good catch” for a relationship. Virtue signaling often backfires when someone sees through it, as it often comes across as disingenuous and/or manipulative. “Humble bragging” is another phrase describing virtue signaling and it reveals insecure, prideful, and/or selfish motives in disguise.
So, what exactly is “virtue signaling”? It is, literally, making some kind of outer, noticeable words or gestures to somehow “signal” (demonstrate) one’s virtue. From the Urban Dictionary, virtue signaling is further defined and clarified as follows: “To take a conspicuous but essentially useless action ostensibly to support a good cause but actually to show off how much more moral you are than everybody else. Example:
Fred: I see George has changed his profile picture to show his support for refugees.
Barbara: Has he donated money or time? Is he giving English lessons? Is he making a room available?
Fred: No, no, he's just virtue signaling. (Source: https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Virtue%20Signalling).
Scriptural Examples of Virtue Signaling:
Virtue signaling among religious circles is not new. We read in the New Testament examples of when Christ preached against this. Here are two instances, along with Christ’s recommendations to act otherwise:
Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
Ideas to Eliminate Virtue Signaling:
To eliminate virtue signaling out of your life, the first step is self-awareness. Be aware of not only what you do and say to/around others, but what your true inner motivation is. If you are speak or act mainly to seem impressive somehow, there is a good chance you are virtue signaling. If you are only acting in a certain way in front of others that you would not do if you were by yourself, there is a decent chance you are virtue signaling. If you tell people things about your high morals or ideals that you know are lies or exaggerations, this is virtue signaling. If you catch yourself bragging to others with an effort to sound humble at the same time, you are probably virtue signaling.
After you assess and have self-awareness that you are virtue signaling, to quote Elder Uchtdorf, “stop it” (see: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2012/04/the-merciful-obtain-mercy?lang=eng). Be true yourself and others. Act in good ways around others that you would also do alone and/or even if others wouldn’t notice. True humility demonstrates privately and doesn’t brag. True efforts showing morality and charity have the primary incentive to love, care for, nourish, and nurture, rather than to impress.
If you are truly a good and moral person, that will shine through on all its own. Also, when you shine naturally with the Spirit, that will sell you all on its own. Act truly loving without trying to convince others. And again, act around others the way you would act alone or if you thought they weren’t watching/listening. BE a good person rather than trying to come across as a good person. Do so and you can and will eventually attract another with similar attributes. And remember, “…neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.”—1 Corinthians 11:11.
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|2020-10-19||Randy Gilchrist||Psychological health|
About the author
Hello, my name is Dr. Randy Gilchrist (aka "Dr. G"). I am a licensed clinical psychologist, a licensed marriage & family therapist, and a certified hypnotherapist in private practice in Roseville, CA (www.dr-rg.com), practicing since 1997. Also, I am happily married in the temple (Manti) since 1996 and have 4 sons. I am a volunteer writer and contributor to LDS Dimension. I use my training, education, and experience to share insights with LDS Dimension on all things of interest to the LDS dating community. Please read my articles and columns on this site to assist you in your online dating journey. Also, to be considered for an answer in a future Q and A column, please email me your dating/relationship oriented questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Finally, I also offer a powerful, effective worldwide custom hypnosis recording service just for LDS Dimension members for weight loss, pornography, and many other issues of concern to those in the LDS dating community (please learn more now at www.dr-rg.com/lds; email me questions to email@example.com).