Jesus doesn’t care how many likes your post gets on Facebook

Have you ever read a post like this on Facebook or other social media:

My server at the restaurant today had a bunch of tattoos. I told her how wonderful she looked and how beautiful she is. I am not like all of the other Mormons who are judgmental and intolerant about tattoos — we are all part of the human family, and we should honor and celebrate the choices of others.


I saw two men holding hands today at Church. Some people in my ward were very nice to them, but I could just tell that many other people were in shock and very intolerant of them. But I made a point to go tell them that I honored their choices — even if all of the other judgmental people in the chapel did not.

I have seen literally hundreds of posts like these over the years. Can you tell what is wrong with them? Luckily, the scriptures make it clear:

Matthew 6:1-8 (NIV version):

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Jesus is not impressed by how righteous we pretend to be in public, including on Facebook. Jesus wants our hearts focused on Him. He wants us to become more like him, with love for all people.

Jesus has special concerns about the people who are only interested in being popular. That will inevitably lead them astray. In Jesus’ day, those people would give to the needy and then tell everybody about it, or they would pray very obviously to be noticed by the people around them. This was a sign that they were doing good deeds for the wrong reasons. The reason to do good is not to be liked and admired by other people — we should do good because we have true charity for others and are filled with the true love of Christ.

How many of our friends are doing good things and then bragging about it publicly? Are their hearts in the right place?

But it gets worse. The above two examples are not just about bragging about personal righteousness in a public way — they are about judging and condemning others while also trumpeting your own righteousness.

Remember the story of the Zoramites and the Rameumpton?

We can read about it in Alma 31.

12 Now, when they had come into the land, behold, to their astonishment they found that the Zoramites had built synagogues, and that they did gather themselves together on one day of the week, which day they did call the day of the Lord; and they did worship after a manner which Alma and his brethren had never beheld;

13 For they had a place built up in the center of their synagogue, a place for standing, which was high above the head; and the top thereof would only admit one person.

14 Therefore, whosoever desired to worship must go forth and stand upon the top thereof, and stretch forth his hands towards heaven, and cry with a loud voice, saying:

15 Holy, holy God; we believe that thou art God, and we believe that thou art holy, and that thou wast a spirit, and that thou art a spirit, and that thou wilt be a spirit forever.

16 Holy God, we believe that thou hast separated us from our brethren; and we do not believe in the tradition of our brethren, which was handed down to them by the childishness of their fathers; but we believe that thou hast elected us to be thy holy children; and also thou hast made it known unto us that there shall be no Christ.

17 But thou art the same yesterday, today, and forever; and thou hast elected us that we shall be saved, whilst all around us are elected to be cast by thy wrath down to hell; for the which holiness, O God, we thank thee; and we also thank thee that thou hast elected us, that we may not be led away after the foolish traditions of our brethren, which doth bind them down to a belief of Christ, which doth lead their hearts to wander far from thee, our God.

18 And again we thank thee, O God, that we are a chosen and a holy people. Amen.

There are obviously many problems with the Zoramites and the Rameumptom, but one of the most obvious is this: they were so filled with pride that they thought they were righteous, and their very prayer was about how much more righteous they were than other people.

Imagine if we went to church every Sunday and talked about how awesome we were compared to all of the other losers out there in the world. I know that some people who have not actually been to an LDS chapel think that this is how Mormons behave, but those of us who have gone to church know that it is the exact opposite. We mostly talk about how much better we should be and how we have fallen short, and how much we need to repent.

As President Monson said in his January 2018 presidency message:

“If any of you has stumbled in his journey, I assure you that there is a way back. The process is called repentance. Although the path is difficult, your eternal salvation depends on it. What could be more worthy of your efforts? I plead with you to determine right here and now to take the steps necessary to fully repent.

Can you see the difference? True saints focus on improving themselves. They recognize their failings and concentrate on repenting. They do not spend their time saying how proud they are that they will be saved while everybody else goes to Hell.

Now, contrast this with the virtue signaling posts above regarding the woman with tattoos and the men holding hands. Those posts — in which the people point out how much better they are than the supposedly intolerant people around them — are filled with pride. The purpose of these posts is to brag — just like the Zoramites — about how righteous the “tolerant” people are compared to the intolerant and judgmental people around them. Their posts are about condemning others and tearing them down. Their comments are the exact opposite of how we should behave.

Now, just to be clear, we should be nice and welcoming to all people. Be kind and gracious to the server with tattoos. Be courteous and friendly to the two men in the chapel holding hands. But don’t immediately go on social media and brag about how wonderful you are compared to everybody else. As the scriptures say, your Father in Heaven will not reward such behavior, no matter how many “likes” your virtue signaling gets on Facebook.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

26 thoughts on “Jesus doesn’t care how many likes your post gets on Facebook

  1. “Imagine if we went to church every Sunday and talked about how awesome we were compared to all of the other losers out there in the world.”

    Unfortunately, I think this is an issue sometimes, and it has definitely been an issue at times in my ward. Though I’ve never seen two men holding hands in my ward, I have heard numerous references to other faiths, especially during fast and testimony Sunday, that are usually negative in nature. My wife (who is Baptist) has come to church with me every Sunday for over 15 years. But at one point we took a hiatus from attending during fast and testimony meeting because there were usually 3 to 4 times as many references to another religion as there were references to Christ.

    At one point I felt impressed (by the Spirit or by my own frustration I don’t know) to stand at the end of a fast and testimony meeting and express my frustration with all of the references to other religions.

  2. Facebook and other socials were designed and engineered from the beginning to be psychologically addicting. Those likes, shares, cross-posts, re-tweets, useful/funny/cool (Yelp reviews), Helpful (Amazon reviews), Up/Down (every comment on every news article on every news media web site) represent hits of endorphine for the poster/reviewer/commenter AND the reader-voter.

    When people are addicted to Likes, they are going to do what it takes to get more Likes, and deny they are addicted.

    I think I’m addicted to blogging. I check for positive comments to my comments/posts waaay too often. I’m addicted to carbs, too. Just lurv that 100% whole wheat bread. And like an addict, I’m justifying my excess carb intake….. by claiming it’s actually healthy: “I’m not like ‘those’ people who eat BRANLESS bread.”

    I think it was Jeff G who did a guest post here years ago on “Trojan” something about how we have devolved into a “culture of critical discourse.” It is too easy to get into the trap of negativity. I’ve caught myself being too focused on the negative and shortcomings in my online reviews. And I’m afraid I’ve been too negative in blog posts and comments, where I have NOT caught myself.

    I have to remind myself that one of the names of the adversary is “the accuser of the brethren.”

    This is definitely a beam/mote kind of issue. And it’s hard to not be confrontational with people who are being confrontational.

    Virtue signalling in a confrontational manner is out of control in our society. It’s tearing our country apart. It’s “othering”, which leads to civil war.

  3. Bodensmate, I think that is a decent point. It is difficult for some people to navigate the whole “one true church” thing without criticizing other churches. I agree that is something people should probably try to handle more delicately.

  4. I have to share some news about this post. There is a Mormon guy on Facebook who loves to post several times a day about how awesome he is. I mean, he really loves everybody — gays, women, black people, people with tattoos, etc. He is just FILLED with love (if he does say so himself — every post includes “heart” emojis just to emphasize how filled with love he is). The only people he doesn’t love, and this is very obvious, is other Mormons. Well, he loves other Mormons who leave the Church, but Mormons who actually go to Church and try to follow the prophets — he really HATES those people. And I mean HATE. Anyway, somebody posted my post on his Facebook timeline, and he immediately blocked that person. It happened in seconds. So, yeah, sometimes the people who are the sickest don’t realize they need the medicine most. We are living in very strange times indeed.

  5. I am the person who got blocked by the person who served as part of Geoff’s inspiration for this post. This particular individual was released a couple of years ago as a YSA bishop and has been riding that past calling to some notoriety in lgbt circles. He has spoken out on lgbt issues and has walked a very careful line to not directly criticize the Church, which he claims to love and support 100%, but which is contradicted often by his public statements. His willingness to set himself up as a light to save the benighted mormons from their bigotry has earned him considerable fame in certain circles and he has traveled all over the country to talk about these things. And yet, when he posts about how he honors and celebrates the choices of everyone, no matter whether those choices are self destructive physically or spiritually, if someone posts and opposing viewpoint in a respectful way, he almost immediately deletes the comment and blocks the poster.

  6. I like how Jesus characterizes the situation when others announce their goodness. He doesn’t condemn them, or call them sinners, and insist that they need to repent. He just says, “they have their reward”. He nailed it.

  7. The mote/beam behavior is fascinating behavior to see–someone champions a cause espousing his/her own views about the cause, then turns around and shuns those who dare think differently, but refuses to see the hypocrisy of his/her position. The reason? Pride. Pride blinds us from recognizing our own blatant hypocrisy.

    Pres. Benson, in his talk on pride, said: “The central feature of pride is enmity—enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen. Enmity means “hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition.” It is the power by which Satan wishes to reign over us.”

    True saints do not only try to improve themselves, but attempt to remain humble so they can remain open to and understand all positions and viewpoints without being disagreeable. Our prophets and apostles are excellent models of what it means to be a true saint.

  8. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: nothing good comes of twitter.

  9. I like a lot of this post, but I had the same reaction as some others when I read “Imagine if we went to church and talked about how awesome we are compared to others”. Maybe it depends on perspective, but I see this almost every week in my ward in some form or another. There is a lot of comparing and contrasting us to “the world” or some other form of “others” (not usually other churches though). Of course we are always the good and the “others” are the bad. I really think this is a blind spot and may be reactive to some extent; LDS people have a history of being persecuted. I think if you really pay attention you will see this occurs in your ward as well, especially if you have a lot of people over the age of 50 in your congregation. 😉

    Another thought I have is that you may be judging some of your Facebook friends a little harshly. Like every group, LDS people have marginalized subgroups. It’s not what we want but it is true. And there are some LDS people who are bigots, plain and simple. In our culture these people are rarely confronted. Marginalized people experience a lot of pain and trauma. Watching that is hard and some people really want to do something to help; expressing love, respect, and concern on social media may be an attempt to give support. If you are part of the group that is not marginalized you may feel criticized and defensive; you think you are a good person doing your best and do not deserve the implied criticism. You may be motivated to deny that there really are marginalized people who are being hurt. Just a thought.

  10. E, as I wrote in the OP, I think latter-day Saints should be kind to everybody, including marginalized groups. I just don’t think they should brag about it on social media, and I don’t think they should do it while criticizing and comparing themselves to others.

  11. “If thy brother shall trespass against thee…”

    Instructions given in Matthew 18:15-17, and in D&C 42:88-92.

    It’s weird/funny how we can too easily be intolerant of intolerance and judgemental of judgementalism.

    If we discuss our church-related cultural problems on social media, we need to be sure we stay on the side of the Brethren.

    In discussions of tolerance/acceptance/honoring/celebrating, I think of Pres Monson’s oft quoting of Alexander Pope: “Vice is a monster of so frightful mien As to be hated needs but to be seen; Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, We first endure, then pity, then embrace.”

    As I understand it, loving people does not include honoring or celebrating sinful behavior.

    As far as what goes on at church, see above Matthew 18 and DC 42 references. I’ve found that Bishops and Stake Presidents are willing to listen to any concerns in private. I took a multi-ward “concern” to a member of the stake-presidency, and at the next conference, the stake pres addressed it in a way that I thought brilliant and obviously inspired by the Lord. I did not give the presidency clearance to openly reveal what I observed and said, but the SP referenced a different incident from someone else (with permission) , such that it indicated to me he/they were hearing similar things from various sources, and went to the Lord, got an answer, and addressed the concern.

    Wow! Going to the Lord’s designated leaders/servants with your “concerns” in private really works.

    By the way, there’s a book going around in LDS leadership circles, at least at stake and ward level, called “Crucial Conversations” by Grenny et. al. I have it on order. The same group of authors has another book called “Influencer” which is on my reading list. used copies of both are available on AMZN. Sounds like both of those are germaine to the topic.

  12. I’ve been thinking of converting to the LDS church for some time now, yet it is things like this (re the referred to comments) and bloggers (not this one!), that keep me on the sidelines.

    It’s hard not to believe, from everything I see of internet Mormonism, that so many of it’s members actually dislike their own faith, and that a majority believe that completely overhauling it is the only way to progress – and that is truly concerning for someone looking to enter it as it is now.

    I don’t really see any point in jumping into a faith if in a few years time it’s going to have collapsed under the weight of this kind of constant criticism from within. – which so many organisations have bowed to, to be on ‘the right side of history’..

    Tattoos? I have one! Gay people? My best friend is gay! So it’s not that I feel some innate tie to the conservative culture of Mormons when I say all this – I am actually center libertarian. It’s just that constant drone, that rumble of discontent in the Faith itself…

    Maybe it’s just the false veneer of that internet culture creates, that every one is so progressive that it’s Nihilism or Bust!. However, I really don’t need that culture within my faith. Faith is the only refuge I seem to have from it!


  13. Nice web article, (excerpted from his book) by Dale A. Robbins:
    – – – How to keep from getting hurt in a church. – – –

    Main headings:
    1) Avoid developing unreasonable expectations of the church.
    2) Don’t place an absolute trust in people.
    3) Focus on common ground.
    4) Don’t expect any church to be perfect.
    5) Don’t seek to promote yourself or your own agenda.
    6) Avoid blaming the church for personal problems.
    7) Treat others as you wish to be treated.
    8) Have a teachable, cooperative attitude.
    9) Don’t oppose or hinder the church.
    10) Be committed to forthrightness and truth.
    11) Be devoted to love and forgiveness.
    12) Don’t get caught up in the offenses of others.
    13) Don’t personalize everything that’s preached.

    I recommend reading the entire article, because he gives examples of how we can unknowingly violate the above principles. His explanations of a few of the points are not immediately obvious just from reading the headings, are very insightful, and appear to be scripturally based.

    The author is not LDS, but I think his article is in line with Geoff’s OP.

  14. K, thanks for your very good comment. I am a convert to the Church. I got baptized when I was 35. I’ll never forget the first time, filled with a convert’s enthusiasm, that I started reading Mormon blogs. This was way back in the early 2000s. I literally could not believe what I was reading. All of these Mormons were sitting around complaining about their church? What the heck was wrong with them?

    I am sorry to say that 16 years or so later I still don’t understand what is wrong with them, but there they are, nitpicking, whining and complaining constantly. It gets worse every year.

    That is one reason this blog was started — to provide one place where people who support the Church could state it without getting bombarded with snark and hate. There are a few other faithful blogs, and actually active, believing Mormons have many groups on Facebook now that did not exist 16 years ago. That is a nice change.

    I think it is partly the anonymity of the internet. I truly believe that a significant number of the biggest whiners actually go to church on Sunday and do their callings. Some of them even love the Church. But they have questions and concerns, and their way of dealing with it is by hanging around apostates. And to be fair, many of the people who complain are liberals/leftists/progressives who feel very lonely in mostly conservative wards. They turn to the on-line world for sympathy. And, again, to be fair, there are some people in the Church who don’t necessarily treat people with tattoos, or people who are gay, as nicely as they should, and this bothers the progressives Mormons (as it should).

    But you need to remember that the Church has more than 16 million members, most of whom are outside of the United States. A lot of the growth is taking place these days in Asia, Africa and Latin America. I lived overseas for many years, and I can tell you that almost nobody outside of Europe and North America is sitting around on the internet complaining about the Church. It is a very noisy group of mostly progressives in the United States and Europe, less than 1 percent of the members, who do all of the complaining.

    So, please be assured that there is absolutely no danger of the Church collapsing under the weight of the critics and the cynics. I really believe with all of my heart that Jesus is in control and that Church leadership is inspired. The prophets are aware of all of the critics, and you will see that they respond to them by pleading with these people to concentrate their efforts on building up, rather than tearing down. At the end of the day, the Church will thrive — some people will decide to separate themselves form the Church, and they will not thrive.

    I hope this comment is helpful. Getting baptized as a married adult was the best decision I ever made. The Church has brought unbelievable joy to my life, and I am filled with nothing but gratitude. May the Lord bless you as you make your own decision.

  15. K, there is a disproportionate number of disaffected and unhappy Mormons on the internet. You will most likely find a happier (and more representative) bunch at your local LDS chapel.

  16. K, Geoff and Annie’s comments are great. Internet mormonism is simply not representative of the Church. I would compare it to the alt-right, in which dozens of people have an outsized voice because of the internet and because those who wish to use them as a tool to taint half of the country. The yappy parts of “internet mormonism” tend to be representative of a vanishingly small group, most of whom never darken the doors of the Church by their own admission.

  17. Geoff, Anne, Michael & Bookslinger – Thank you all for your replies, I very much appreciate them! Even a few voices of reason can start dampening the noise. I think because it’s such a huge decision, and such a leap of faith (corny!) – it’s very easy for those voices to have you stumbling at the run up! There’s been so many churches recently that have either started preaching prosperity gospel, or progressive doctrine (No, Jesus wasn’t a SJW.. Hehehe..) to try and appease and hold on to more liberal members- so it’s that, I suppose, that has given me pause when I see the bloggers/posters trying to foster that sort of thing in.. I just want the gospel, as it was intended. Nothing more, nothing less.

    But you’re right, it’s always the very few disaffected voices that are the loudest, whether they are speaking truth to faith, or not.. I can just never understand why you would shout your disdain from the inside out..

    The article Bookslinger linked is very useful. Especially living in an area where it’s one meeting house, or no meeting house at all (due to the distance between), I need to learn all of those lessons or have a crisis as soon as something uncomfortable presents itself.

    And, it’s actually incredibly reassuring to find this blog in amongst everything – you all actually seems to be a pretty good voice of reason, so I might settle in with you all for a while 🙂

    Anyway, thanks again!

  18. I have been interested to see a shift in my own ward in the last 6 months or so–since the new Relief Society and Priesthood curriculum or meeting format changed up to a “council” style and since April Conference, when we became “ministers” rather that message takers as home or visiting teachers. Where we used to have discussions that often focused on how bad it was “out there” (we are in southern Utah) and the need for repentance in “the world”, we have been much more able to speak honestly about our own weaknesses, sins, and the strength we have found through the Atonement, the support and love of one another, and we have become very, very service focused. Almost every 2 or 3 days, a text shows up requesting ward members support for this neighbor or that (often not LDS members). It has been such a refreshing change. I’m not sure if the rest of the “Utah Church” is experiencing this kind of powerful shift in thought pattern, but it’s wonderful here. This change has increased my certainty that President Nelson and the Quorum of the 12 are prophets, and know what the Savior needs us to do to move forward and be ready for His coming.

  19. K — I joined the church at 18, have been active for the last 39 years. What Geoff, Anne, Michael and Bookslinger says is correct. As was said in “Oh Brother Where Art Though”, “Come on in, boys, the water’s fine.”

  20. Geoff, you said, “I can tell you that almost nobody outside of Europe and North America is sitting around on the internet complaining about the Church. It is a very noisy group of mostly progressives in the United States and Europe, less than 1 percent of the members, who do all of the complaining.”

    Almost nobody maybe, but I can say that the pattern is the same in Australia and New Zealand, where I have lived. There are some particularly vocal internet critics from New Zealand.

  21. I have come to really appreciate the regular contributors here for their faithful and hopeful view, and their carefully thought out posts and responses–most of the time of course, for them and for me. I would hope that other folks like K would see the contrast. Comparisons are inevitable in all aspects of life. Geoff used such contrast to make a valid point in the OP. One point of comparison I would like to make. My occasional forays out into the greater “bloggernacle” often leave me frustrated because unlike Geoff in this post, they seem so bent on not seeming too Mormon, or even Christian that I don’t see much actual use of scripture or doctrine. Instead, I see much use of other sources.

    The Lord’s way is line upon line–obedience to that first learned principle before the next principle can even be heard. The leap of faith mentioned by K is vital to the next step. Geoff speaks of the great joy he has come to know. I too have known it. The Holy Ghost bears witness to truth, the more pure the source, the stronger the witness. The more polluted the source the swifter He recoils and retreats. The Spirit will come back and try again, over and over, until He ceases striving as we read happened on occasion in the Book of Mormon–the purest source of scripture we have according to Joseph Smith.
    I try to reach out to my friends who feel the church as an institution and as a group of loosely like-minded people are intolerant and exclusive. Exclusion is hard doctrine, but doctrine nonetheless. Many are called but few are chosen. Who has the skill, gift and right to speak of it? The irony of it is that those who truly obtain a place in the exclusive group, cannot, would not, under any circumstances, climb the steps of the Rameumptom to proclaim it–the exclusive group are so changed in the inner person, so humbled by their sense of nothingness as they truly draw near to God, so full of the love of God that they are full of only yearning for the welfare of their fellow-beings that scorn is anathema. Tolerance likewise requires judgment of both things and people without condemnation of any people or person as condemnation is the domain of God alone.

    To M* and her editors, thanks for providing a safe place where I can lean in. And thanks to the caring and thoughtful contributors.

  22. Joel, thank you for this nice comment.

    You have pointed out something I have been writing and saying a long time: if people are making a point related to the Mormon world and almost never use scriptures or the words of the prophets, it is probably a clue that they are on the wrong track. Also, if people are calling for outrage or anger or contention, they are almost always on the wrong track.

    Just my .02.

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