This post is part of larger blog series, “Tenets of Progressive Culture.” Read the intro post to learn who this blog series is for and what to expect. Previous post in this series – Self-Love: Defined.
Partial Truth: Self-Care
The concept of self-love communicates the point that we are not worthless. This is indeed biblical. We are each made in God’s image which brings immense value and worth (Genesis 1:27).
However, it appears to me that the concept of self-love has two facets that are conflated into one: self-care and self-prioritization. The self-care facet represents a partial biblical truth. Taking care of oneself through healthy habits like eating well, being active, getting enough sleep, carrying out purposeful work, and nurturing relationships is biblical. We know that our bodies house the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Thus, we are called to take care of these temples so we may use them to bring glory to God. In this respect, self-care is a good and biblical concept. However, self-care goes too far and is taken too seriously. In other words, we make caring for our bodies an idol. We often do this at the expense of caring for others. This leads me to my next point, self-prioritization.
False Ideology: Self-Prioritization
The self-prioritization facet of self-love represents a false biblical ideology. Recall from the previous blog post, “Self-love means taking care of your own needs and not sacrificing your well-being to please others.” In other words, self-prioritization.
In the Bible, God never commands us to love ourselves first or to prioritize our own needs over others. Often Jesus’ command, “Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39)” is mistakenly used to support this claim. Loving ourselves, in fact, is very easy and comes naturally for us because it is part of our sin-nature. This command instead means we are to love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves. Just as we naturally take care of our own needs, we must do likewise for the people God brings into our lives. These people may be a spouse, children, family, friends, or actual neighbors. To care for these people and their needs involves a humbling sacrifice of our time, talent, and treasure, not a self-prioritization of such things.
At the heart of the self-love movement is this idea that we are inherently good and deserve self-prioritization. But this is antithetical to the message of Jesus! Jesus was the antithesis of self-love and the epitome of self-sacrifice. We are so inherently evil that we don’t even realize just how evil we are. Even still, Jesus demonstrated sacrificial love by sacrificing His perfect, sinless self for us imperfect sinners (Romans 5:8). Therefore, the concept of self-love is ultimately a false ideology.