Monday, February 16, 2009

“You have to love yourself before you can love anyone else.”

This in an idea embraced by many Christians in the 1990’s and is still repeated and believed, mostly by those in the Inner Healing movement. They’ve built it on a misunderstanding of Jesus’ words in Matthew 19:19, “love your neighbor as yourself” (from Leviticus 19:18),insisting that a person must have good self-esteem in order to love anyone else. But Jesus didn’t say that. He was speaking from a “given" that people in general think very well of themselves, feeding themselves, putting themselves first (of course,there are some who don’t, but a closer look might surprise you). Paul confirms this general understanding in Ephesians 5:28,29.

However, history reveals the surprising roots of this idea of self-love preceding love for others, “According to Buddhism, self-love comes first. By helping ourselves we can help others effectively."*