Self Care, Self Love, and the Bible

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A few years ago, I wrote a post “Is Self Care Biblical for Christian Women” – a post that got a lot of attention mostly on social media and from my email updates (you can subscribe to those here).

A lot of women took issue with my stand on self care; some even assuming that I advocate for women serving others to the detriment of their own health and wellbeing.

A ludicrous idea – if I may say so, myself.

In no way do I believe that a woman exhausting and neglecting her own health is a positive thing, nor do I believe that it somehow “proves” to God and others how selfless we are.

Quite the opposite.

A woman who neglects her health and wellbeing is selfish, because eventually she will burn out and be incapable of caring for her loved ones.

That is why today I want to piggy-back on that post and offer further insight into why I believe that self care and self love are contrary to the Bible, and have nothing to do with caring for ourselves, our health, and wellbeing.

person hugging self

The verse most people point to, when speaking about self love from what they believe is a biblical standpoint, is Mark 12:31 “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

But there is a huge problem with trying to promote self love with this verse; and that is that the verse is being used out of context.

The context of this verse is Jesus summing up the Law in two statements:

  • Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength
  • Love your neighbor as yourself

Jesus wasn’t talking about how we’re supposed to love ourselves; he’s talking about how we’re supposed to show respect to those around us.

Moreover, the Greek word for love in this verse is “Agapao”, which is God’s love – and we read the definition of that love in 1 Corinthians 13.

The truth is: when people talk about self love in the context of Mark 12:31, they’re attempting to make God’s word culturally relevant.

God isn’t at all concerned with his word being culturally relevant.

He’s concerned that we live righteous, holy, upright lives that are established on his Word – his mandates.

When we look at Mark 12:31, within it’s context, it is talking about showing those around us the same respect and selfless love that we would give to ourselves.

The problem is that our culture today defines self love with hedonism; pampering ourselves, spa days, plastic surgery and Botox injections…

Gym memberships, Netflix binges, sleeping in, luxury, high-end make up, and shopping sprees.

All things that gratify our flesh and make our bodies beautiful.

The only concern God has with our flesh and our physical bodies is that we lay them down.

Sure, we respect the body he gives us, because in doing so, we respect the Creator of that body.

But to feed it’s desires, to invest so much time and money in it — that is not what the Bible is talking about.

Jesus is saying, “The same godly respect you give to yourselves, your character, your thought-life, and your feelings – give to others.”

The reason why our cultural idea of self care and self love is not biblical is because it is saturated in hedonistic ideas.

It is saturated in an unnatural and ungodly elevation of self; it is saturated in idolatry.

Yes, as women, we need to care for ourselves.

We should have good hygiene, get proper rest, eat a healthy diet, and do those things that keep us healthy and strong.

In doing so, we show honor for our Creator who made us and honor to those God has called us to serve.

This isn’t self love, it is honoring God and honoring others.

And when we place God first by taking up our cross and follow Him; and when we esteem others more highly than we do ourselves, we are pleasing God.

And we do do this while at the same time honoring the body God gave us.

The two are not mutually exclusive.

But there is one thing for certain, we should reject any cultural idea that does not align with Scripture.

“…casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…” 2 Corinthians 10:5

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