Friday, April 7, 2017

Does the bible say to love yourself?

"And hence it is, that to feel much for others and little for ourselves, that to restrain our selfish, and indulge our benevolent, affections, constitutes the perfection of human nature; and can alone produce among mankind that harmony of sentiments and passions in which consists their whole grace and propriety.
As to love our neighbor as we love ourselves is the great law of Christianity, so it is the great precept of nature to love ourselves only as we love our neighbor, or what comes to the same thing, as our neighbor is capable of loving us."
-Adam Smith

Churches I used to go to used to make this point. "Love each other as you love yourselves implies that you should love yourself too!"

But for as long as I can remember I've thought that the interpretation of the verse as, "as you SHOULD love yourselves" rather than, "as you CURRENTLY love yourselves" was reading personal views into the verse. Jesus is saying, "you are lovers of yourselves, now go love each other that much," which is to say nothing about how much you should love yourself.

When you read any new Testament author, it's hard to find anything that says you should love yourself. On the contrary, when being a lover of yourself is mentioned it's always treated like a BAD thing.

Of course, rationalizers will argue that these same words mean different things for no other reason than because they say so. 

So does the bible say to love yourself? Most certainly not. That doesn't make it wrong unless you're a bible fundamentalist, but I think citing verses like this to help forward your already established moral views is discourteous to original authors.