HOME   People do good because they are human, not because they are religious! 

Do not give God any credit for the good they do, they did it!

 

LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR MORE?
  

 

Question: Is self-love a sin so I should love my neighbour before myself?

 

Answer - From Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties:

 

Does Matthew 22:39 teach a godly love of self? Matthew 22:39 contains Christ’s quotation of Leviticus 19:18: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself (NASB). Some have inferred from this that Jesus taught a godly love of self, for one cannot very well love his neighbor unless he also loves himself. There may be a measure of truth in this, but it involves a somewhat different understanding of the word “love” than what is normally used. Certainly the second great commandment involves a proper regard, acceptance, and respect for oneself; but it seems to be quite misleading—if not altogether dangerous—to speak of the Bible as teaching self-love. Interestingly enough, there is only one passage in Scripture that speaks of self-love explicitly, and that is 2 Timothy 3:1–3: “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self [philautoi], lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving”(NASB). It is interesting to see the categories of character weakness and sinful perversion in which this philautoi appears. And it should be carefully noted that “lovers of self”are grouped with the “unloving”(astorgoi —lacking the natural affection toward one’s own flesh and blood), “haters of good,”and “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”There can be no question but what the term “self-lovers”is presented here as a serious character weakness, a trait of sin. For this reason there is little justification for a Christian minister or a Christian counselor to speak with approval of “self-love.”Are we ever justified in praising what Scripture condemns? Hardly. Rather, because of the self-deceptiveness of the human heart (Jer. 17:9), we would do well to allow ourselves to be taught by Scripture in this matter, rather than falling into a fallacy that comes from a sophistic juggling of terms. The first appeal to self-love to be found in the Bible occurs in Genesis 3:4–5, where the satanic serpent poses as the friend and helpful counselor of man: “You surely shall not die [despite what God may have said to you]! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God [or ‘gods’], knowing good and evil”(NASB). So saying, he stirred up a strong realization of self love on Eve’s part, and she felt moved to partake of the forbidden fruit. Satan has been appealing to self-love in fallen man ever since. The influence of self-love and self-will has been to lead away from the will of God into a life of shameful bondage to evil. “Self-love”is the name of the disease of our soul; it cannot possibly be the correct label for its cure! How, then, are we to understand Matthew 22:39: “Love your neighbor as yourself"? We should observe that it commands the very opposite of self-love, for self-love dictates the love of self in preference to others. This second commandment bids us to do the very contrary of this: we are to put the rights and needs of others in the very same level as our own. Hence this is a negation and a rejection of self-love (in the sense of self-preference). The same idea is brought out very clearly by Christ’s “Golden Rule”in Matthew 7:12: “Therefore all things that you wish men to do to you, do even so to them.”We are to treat them with as much consideration and love as we should like to have them do to us. This again is the very antithesis of self-love. When the early Christians of the Jerusalem church sold their property and gave the proceeds to be distributed among all the church members as each might have need, this was a distribution of love to all alike; it was anything but a manifestation of self-love. Self-love would have dictated a retaining of one’s wealth for personal advantage and enjoyment. Fallen mankind already knows this kind of self-love and needs no exhortation or encouragement by professional counselors —Christian or otherwise—to further self-love. What really concerns the Christian counselor is that tendency towards low self-esteem or outright self-rejection that he often encounters in people who are emotionally disturbed. Often they have disappointed themselves in a vain attempt to achieve their own personal goals; and they condemn themselves for their failure, out of a feeling of wounded pride. Or else they have been so rejected and put down by others that they end up despising themselves. The psychologist seeks to counteract this self-contempt or self-rejection by a totally different concept of self—and so he should. But the remedy is not found in resurrecting the same vice that may have contributed to their downfall in the first place. Self-love is not the answer; rather, it is Christ-love. “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died [i.e., all believers united to Him by faith died with Him as He suffered for them on the cross]; and He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves [as all self-lovers do], but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf”(2 Cor. 5:14–15, NASB). The fact that the Son of God loved me enough to die for me confers on me a standing of privilege and glory far higher than anything a self-lover might seek to gain for himself. ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world”(Eph. 1:3–4, NASB). If God has loved us, delivered us, showered such blessing on us, and guaranteed a place for us up in the glory of heaven above—all because of His free grace and not because of any merit or goodness in us—how can we condemn, reject, or despise ourselves? “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect?”asks Romans 8:33. If no one else in heaven, earth, or hell can bring any charge against those justified by the blood of Jesus, no more can we despise or abhor ourselves. That amounts to a rejection of God’s own judgment of love toward us (who by faith are in His beloved Son, Jesus). Self-contempt and self-hate are completely excluded by the mighty love of God, which He has showered on us. He has entrusted us with a high and holy calling; He has summoned us to be ambassadors of the court of heaven, commissioned to preach Christ and reconciliation to God through His atoning death (2 Cor. 5:19–20). He has consecrated our bodies to be temples of His Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19). What higher dignity, what greater glory is possible for any man? I must daily, hourly, present my body as a living sacrifice to Him on the altar of devotion; I must constantly draw on Him for His enablement to fulfill my stewardship in a worthy and appropriate manner. But I will never, never despise myself or reject myself if I truly believe what God has said about me in His word. This kind of self-assurance and self-esteem is derived completely from Jesus by faith and lifts me immeasurably above the level of “self-love.”I am lost in the love of Christ, and in Him I find myself again!

 

ANALYSIS OF THE NON-PLACE OF SELF-LOVE IN CHRISTIANITY

 

Jesus when he was asked by a Jewish scholar, a scribe, what the greatest commandment of morality was replied as follows.
 
“The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31, King James Bible).
 
Jesus quoted what he called the first command, from the Jewish Law, which he said was the word of God. And in the Law (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) the commandment is treated as the only one that ultimately matters. It is the one that we are told to obsess with. The demand to love ones neighbour is not exalted to that level in the Law. So Jesus agrees with the law but why does he say that love of neighbour is important too? He is indicating that the command to love God alone contains the other commandments the greatest of which is to love neighbour. Loving neighbour is really about loving God only. In other words, love your neighbour not for themselves but because God says so. The notion that the two commandments say exactly the same thing is nonsense. Loving Tony is not the same as loving Amy - so loving God is not the same as loving your neighbour.
 
To love God totally is the most important commandment. Therefore to break it is the greatest sin.
 
Jesus commanded you to love your neighbour as yourself.
 
Love your neighbour as yourself does not say you are to value yourself and your needs as much as the needs of others. People argue that Jesus assumes we love ourselves and asks us to love others equally to ourselves.  As Jesus was speaking in the context of the loving of God alone being what matters, he is telling us he does not approve of our self-love even if it is natural.

 

Many do not like the suggestion that they are to love God alone for they want to love themselves.  Sadly for them as we now know, Jesus did not command self-love.  Telling us to look after our neighbour as yourself only means he sees you do look after yourself or you would not be alive but does not indicate any approval. What gets the approval is looking after your neighbour.  He is only saying we love ourselves not that it is right to or that we should.
 
Luke 17:7-10 (ESV) - 7 Jesus said, "Will any one of you who has a servant ploughing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? 8 Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? 9 Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”
 
That says it all! It proves that if Jesus said love your neighbour as yourself he meant do good actions and it is not about feeling good or loving. In fact he commanded that you must feel you are no good.
 
Loving neighbour as yourself seems to mean that you love your neighbour and yourself in that order. In theory, you can love your neighbour as yourself while still putting your neighbour first. You treat the neighbour as you would treat yourself. Theologians say is the same as love your neighbour as yourself but it is clarified better. Love your neighbour as yourself tells you to give the love you give or would give yourself to your neighbour. It does not mean you may love yourself. Indeed it forbids it. It is a mistake then to imagine that love your neighbour as yourself implies you must love yourself.
 
It can be argued that as Jesus thought its natural for us to love our neighbour as ourselves he only gave that as a commandment that has to be followed if we fail to love God only.
 
Jesus said that loving God is the biggest commandment implying that if we can’t love God and love others we should love God instead of others. But that is hypothetical. This is another way of getting the point across that it should be all about God. Hypothetical means that we have to be the kind of people who if faced with that choice would care only for God.
 
Love is sacrifice. But you cannot really sacrifice for yourself but only for your neighbour - love your neighbour as yourself is about how you treat your neighbour not about how you value him or her.
 
The advice or command to love the sinner and hate the sin is telling you to love the sinner more than yourself. Even if you could hate the sin and love the sinner, you are deluding yourself to manage it. You are demeaning yourself. If you demean yourself you can't think much of those who love you or of other people. You are also offering love based on lies and pretence to the sinner. Its not the real thing. Its true colours will show. Outright hatred would do less harm in the long run. But nevertheless, it is an attempt to devalue yourself to reward a sinner with love.
 
In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew we read how Jesus commanded that if somebody borrows things from us we must not look for them back. He said to turn the other cheek. These things indicate that Jesus meant we must love our neighbour more than ourselves.
 
Break up the commandment to love your neighbour as yourself. Have it as, "Love your neighbour." "Love as yourself." This does not indicate any approval at all for loving yourself. It only says you love yourself and so go and love your neighbour as much. It is worried about the neighbour not you.
 
Love your neighbour as yourself is nasty but its being a law makes it more vicious. Laws are not laws unless they imply threats if you don't comply. A law that does not wish evil on you if you refuse to comply is not a command or law.
 
You cannot love your neighbour as yourself and there is nothing to be ashamed of for that is the way we are. We get by and have a good enough life without people loving us as they love themselves. The command however seeks to make you feel awful about being a normal person and makes you feel never good enough. (Its being a command makes it more vicious. Commands are not commands unless they imply threats if you don't comply.) That is why those who try to practice it, end up feeling that they should love others and not themselves. It was a clever ruse by the Church to put people down and to keep them coming to the Church for elusive comfort from the sacraments and the prayers. You cannot love yourself if you try to love others as yourself for it burdens yourself. In fact Jesus' commandment may have been a poetic way of saying love others and not yourself. It could be like one of his parables and ironies.
 
It is easy to love yourself but loving others is harder. You would have to do more for others than for yourself because it is so easy to wrongly think you love them as yourself. So you have to be sure and act as if you put them before yourself. Is this loving your neighbour more than yourself? Some say it is not. They it is only making sure that you do love your neighbour as yourself. Rather than loving them more than yourself, you are acting as if you love them that way in the hope that you will manage to love them as yourself. Even if loving others more than yourself is wrong , you are doing the only thing you can to help yourself love your neighbour as yourself. Thus your behaviour is justified.
 
Believers teach that if you act as if you adore your neighbour more than yourself you will find eventually that you value the neighbour more than yourself.
 
Jesus told the apostles that he gave them a new commandment to love one another as he loved them in the John Gospel 13:34-36. This is different then from the Old Testament commandment, “Love your neighbour as yourself” for it was an old commandment. Jesus accepted the Old Testament command so it seems that he meant we have to love one another enough to die for one another like he supposedly did. The preceding sentence has Jesus saying he will only be around a little while so that was probably what he had in mind. The line after also says that Jesus will sacrifice himself to death and Peter says he will sacrifice himself too. The Law also commanded people to die for others say in war. So why does Jesus say it’s a new commandment? Could it be that the gospel is obliquely saying that Jesus wants people to die UNNECESSARILY for others? That is the only explanation. If the apostles committed suicide by getting themselves martyred then we cannot rely on them at all. Jesus said that the whole world would know they are his disciples by their love and obedience to the new commandment. But the apostles lived obscure lives and died deaths that are masked in legend. This prophecy proved false. It was only in the second century that stories of this remarkable suicidal fanatical love of the apostles appeared which tell us plenty about when this ludicrous gospel was written. It was written too late to be depended on.
 
In Ephesians 5:28,29 we learn that early Christian doctrine declared that whoever loves his wife loves himself and that it is unnatural for a man not to love his own wife for that is not loving his own self. So loving another person at your own loss is loving yourself. That logic enabled the Church to mean, "Let others use you as they please, serve them and forget about yourself or what you need for yourself" while claiming that this loving was loving yourself. Strictly speaking, other people come first. If squatters steal your house then you must go and sleep under the bush and not complain. This is fully in line with Jesus' teaching that if people take our things and do not return them we must let them keep them.
 
The apostle Paul decreed in 1 Corinthians 10 that people must copy his example and be anxious for the advantage of everybody else and not themselves so that the people they help may be saved. He bluntly states that other people must be put first. Here in Paul, the idea that some people will not achieve salvation is used to argue that you must put the salvation of other people first when you are already saved. Even if you are not saved you can still work to save them. This is actually a very tough ethic and demands you love your neighbour more than yourself.
 
You will agree with popular morality that all people are as valuable as you are. Now since you are most sure you exist, you will have to treat yourself as more valuable not out of snobbery but out of there being no alternative. Jesus wanted us to have an other-centred outlook which means that his commandment really means this: “Love your neighbour but instead of yourself and don’t mean it when you say you love yourself.” We all sense this which is why we have a difficulty in getting interested in keeping the commandment.
 
When X hurts Y, X has proven he should not be trusted. But if Y forgives we celebrate that. In that case, we imply that she is bad if she does not forgive. We are also implying that she should put herself at risk. If I forgive that is my business. But when I encourage somebody else to do it and praise them for it it is doubtful that I really care about the person.
 
The Didache, subtitled The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, is a work that is definitely from the first century for its Eucharist and rites are so primitive and because it emphasises morality and not Jesus. It’s teachings then are closer to what Jesus was originally believed to have stood for than the gospels which are more advanced and embellished. Some indications of second century practice occur in the text but there is no reason for dating it to the second century for these practices could have been carried on before then and plus the evidence for the first century date is more substantial.
 
The Didache claims that Jesus’ teaching was that I have to love my neighbour more than myself. Hardly surprising after what the John gospel says.
 
When you read the apostle Paul's letters, and the Church regards them as the word of God, we learn that Christians are obligated to bear with one another in total selflessness (Ephesians 4:1-6). Paul said that one meaning of Jesus' death was that he died to spare us the death we deserved and he saved us from this death so that we might live not for ourselves but for him (2 Corinthians 5:14-17). If we help others because we want to feel good and people to like us then we are living for ourselves. Loving your neighbour as yourself really should be clarified as love your neighbour more than yourself. Love your neighbour as yourself means you help others with total disregard for self. If you look after yourself so that you can help others you are doing it for them not you. That is not loving yourself but using yourself as a means to serve others.

Paul the apostle says that the best love is dying for those who hate you. That is love your neighbour more than yourself.
One will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us… For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

Romans 5:7-8, 10 (NASB)
The verse denies that God was helping his enemies and sacrificing for them because he thought he could make them good. That would contradict the point Paul is making that its love to die for enemies. If you can die for a good man, you can die for a person to make them good. There is nothing remarkable about that. Paul also indicates that those Jesus died for may be saved but they are not necessarily good yet.
 
Christianity can only give love a bad name! It is conniving how the requirement of love of neighbour more than self is kept from the people. But people sense that it is expected of them and the anger simmers away. Consider how Catholics take it out on Protestants in Northern Ireland and vice versa.

 

St Francis knew that what Jesus meant by love your neighbour as yourself was not that you are to love yourself but to love rather than be loved.  Such love cannot be given to yourself but only to another.
 
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