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» Ship of Fools   » Community discussion   » Purgatory   » "You have to love yourself before you can love your neighbour"

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Source: (consider it) Thread: "You have to love yourself before you can love your neighbour"
Anglican_Brat
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True or false?

I was told this in different variations by people throughout the years, including some in the church.

Now I'm realizing this isn't Christian tradition as I see it. Did Jesus wait until people loved him, before he healed and minister to people? No, he loved people, first.

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Boogie

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Well, you need to be able to care for yourself and be fit for it.

The question isn't "Did Jesus wait until others loved him before he loved other?"

It is - "Did Jesus love himself before he could love others?"

When I was caring for my Mum when she had dementia I needed to look after myself or I'd have been no use to her at all.

When I help out at the soup kitchen I need to be strong - mentally and physically.

When I raise my Guide Dog pups I need endless patience and willingness to love and lose every year, like a foster mum with dogs.

Is this love? If it is then yes, I need to love myself in order be able to love others.

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Alan Cresswell

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Sometimes it takes an active love for others to even find out what it means to love oneself.

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Schroedinger's cat

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Absolutely not. Some of the best people at loving others are those who don't love themselves, and so can empathise with others who feel broken and worthless.

You need to physically look after yourself if you are committed to taking time for others. Helping others can give a purpose to your life, which might help you.

Broken people are the best.

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Barnabas62
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quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
Sometimes it takes an active love for others to even find out what it means to love oneself.

This. I think Thomas a Kempis wrote about inordinate self-love that it can hurt us more than anything else in the world. The key, of course, being that understanding of inordinate. As far as I can see, inordinate self love means a kind of exclusive self-centredness coupled with an indifference to practising active love for others. And that really is bad for us.

But self-hate can also be another kind of self-centredness, and equally bad in its effects. An obsession with our own faults can also get in the way of active love of others.

These things illustrate that the agape-love which is being considered here is outward directed, a consequence of knowing that God loves us first.

[ 30. August 2017, 08:34: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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Tortuf
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I think the two go hand in hand. For me to fully love myself I have to love others unconditionally. By that I mean not just if they please me in some way and not with that bit of reserve because they just need to change a few things to be good.

My experience is that when I find the capacity to do that I find that I can love myself. I no longer have to deny my shadow side and can allow myself to be a whole human being, faults and all.

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
Sometimes it takes an active love for others to even find out what it means to love oneself.

This. Loving some others is all too easy. Which is highly suspect. Especially those who condemn themselves for having chosen their lot. Chosen their parents? As I reflect to them. That has helped me forgive myself in a way, introduce an intermittent thread in to my endless fractal (think an ever spinning, magnifying Mandelbrot set) shame and self loathing. However I must have something still lacking in my self love as I am found wanting in radiating sunshine around my demented mother.

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Love wins

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Anselmina
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Isn't this an example of how inadequate the word 'love' is? Even given its other Greek applications?

In some parts of scripture the person who 'fears God' is pretty much indistinguishable from the one who 'loves God', in that the same obedient response is expected from him/her who loves/fears God. Eg, if you love me, keep my commandments.

And Jesus gives the teaching that 'no-one hates his own body/flesh', presumably not meaning that nobody ever had a case of low self-esteem or was suicidal; but applying a wider principle that healthy human beings carefully nurture themselves and value their own lives, or at least don't act to deliberately or negligently harm themselves. So 'loving' ourselves has a different application there.

But there does also seem to be an extra layer of complexity. Loving of the kind Jesus refers to is bedded in the exercise of the will, rather than the emotions or the feelings. Again, a distinction we might find difficult to appreciate given how fluffy and much abused a word 'love' is in our often emotion-driven cultures.

So I demonstrate love, in my actions, to others, not because I'm under the influence of an emotion that makes me feel what I take to be 'love' for that person, but because I am obedient to God's command to feed the poor, or forgive the sinner, or, lay down my life etc. In fact, to avoid doing the right thing for the 'wrong' reasons it would be necessary that my obedience is based on a genuine attempt to please God, through that obedience, however I might feel towards the one who benefits.

It's an act of will, which in time might align itself to how I should feel perhaps; but which is initiated in my compelling myself to be obedient to God.

And this might be described as loving others as I would love myself, insofar as Jesus said 'do to others as you would be done by'.

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leo
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quote:
Originally posted by Anglican_Brat:
Did Jesus wait until people loved him, before he healed and minister to people? No, he loved people, first.

That isn't the point - he could have loved himself regardless of other people's love or lack of it.

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Nick Tamen

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quote:
Originally posted by Tortuf:
I think the two go hand in hand. For me to fully love myself I have to love others unconditionally. By that I mean not just if they please me in some way and not with that bit of reserve because they just need to change a few things to be good.

My experience is that when I find the capacity to do that I find that I can love myself. I no longer have to deny my shadow side and can allow myself to be a whole human being, faults and all.

This.

It seems to me that loving yourself being tied up with loving neighbor is implicit in Jesus's second commandment: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." I take that as "love everyone else the same way you love yourself," which presumes, I think, a healthy love of self as some loved by God. Loving others the same way we love ourselves keeps that self-love from becoming distorted, unhealthy or out of balance.

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The first thing God says to Moses is, "Take off your shoes." We are on holy ground. Hard to believe, but the truest thing I know. — Anne Lamott

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Anglican_Brat:
True or false?

Do you still beat your wife? True or false?

One can love others without loving oneself. But being broken makes it difficult to do so perfectly.

There is no first, then. It is a both, always.

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
Sometimes it takes an active love for others to even find out what it means to love oneself.

This. Loving some others is all too easy. Which is highly suspect. Especially those who condemn themselves for having chosen their lot. Chosen their parents? As I reflect to them. That has helped me forgive myself in a way, introduce an intermittent thread in to my endless fractal (think an ever spinning, magnifying Mandelbrot set) shame and self loathing. However I must have something still lacking in my self love as I am found wanting in radiating sunshine around my demented mother.
In other words loving others IS loving the self. And that can be to a ... selfish degree! And some feel impossible to love, even though one serves them. One guy used to make my skin crawl but I decided he needed hugging anyway. Stopped my skin crawling ...

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Love wins

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wild haggis
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Loving oneself - what exactly do we mean by that?

Yes, define "love" please.

Is the mantra you can't love others until you love yourself a bit of a copt put?

Can we ever completely love ourselves?

Is this not just another of the pseudo- modern mantras that mean absolutely nothing except "me first and to hell with everyone else"?

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Martin60
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I find it almost impossible to forgive myself when I'm in the thrall of intrusive recollection of shame, of evil. On top of that I'm found wanting in the fruit of the spirit constantly. I have not charity. Constantly. The stimulus-response lacks aren't continuously exposed, but it feels like it. So, I can't forgive who I was - and that's a lot of me's - and who I am. Which adds to the pile. I can't change either, the past me's or the present. How do you love that? Forgive? Accept? Understand? I'm just another version of the nasty, ignorant, weak fools I've always been.

Who then shall save me from this body of death?

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Love wins

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Nick Tamen

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quote:
Originally posted by wild haggis:
Is this not just another of the pseudo- modern mantras that mean absolutely nothing except "me first and to hell with everyone else"?

I don't think so. Of course, the idea can be distorted as you suggest, but don't think that's what's meant by "love yourself."

The Brief Statement of Faith of the PC(USA), adopted to mark reunion of the "northern" and "southern" churches, actually included the idea: "The Spirit . . . sets us free to accept ourselves and to love God and neighbor, and binds us together with all believers in the one body of Christ, the church."

When the Brief Statement was adopted, I'll admit that this was the one line in an otherwise (I think) solidly and poetically written statement that seemed to me to verge on psycho-babble. It was the 80s after all. And maybe it does show that influence in how it's worded.

But when I spent a little time with it and read about what the drafters were thinking, I came to find it very meaningful. Getting at what Martin says above, it's about being at peace with who we really are—broken, imperfect people who are nevertheless loved immensely by God in our brokenness and imperfection. For many, it may mean accepting that we are beloved of God even when the culture around us or perhaps even our own families tell us that we are inferior or unloveable for some reason. It's about accepting forgiveness and forgiving ourselves.

It's an acceptance that should compel us to accept and love others as they are. And at the same time, that acceptance and love of others should help us to accept and love ourselves.

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The first thing God says to Moses is, "Take off your shoes." We are on holy ground. Hard to believe, but the truest thing I know. — Anne Lamott

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mr cheesy
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I think there are a whole lot of issues wrapped up in this, the first being the whole notion of what "love" and "self love" actually are in this context.

My general feeling is that modern interpretations of theology tend to gloss over what is meant by "loving your neighbour as yourself" - and that it meant looking out for him/her, giving food when they are hungry, clothing when naked, etc. The idea being that one doesn't just look after a friend or someone who can return the favour, but the person that is in need that one is aware of.

Self-love in that context presumably means "self-caring", in the sense of ensuring that bodily needs are taken care of on a day-to-day basis.

Of course there are those who (for various reasons) are unable to care for themselves in these practical ways, but I'd suggest that the majority of us see to the daily needs of our own bodies (and those of our close family) as and when we need to.

But that's quite different IMO to this idea of "self-love" that we often hear suggested, perhaps influenced by ideas of Freudian Ego - where we're somehow supposed to be able to take a step back from the person that we are, look at ourselves critically and then give a thumbs up in the mirror because we like what we see.

In reality I think it is entirely possible to be wearied by one's own failings; it is entirely possible to dislike one's character but feel unable to do anything about it; it is entirely possible to feel a numbing guilt or hatred of oneself whilst at the same time caring for one's own needs.

I don't think that refusing to see oneself as the best thing since sliced bread is necessarily akin to suicide and I absolutely don't think one has to have a high impression of one's own self-worth to be able to engage with (and/or help) others.

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Barnabas62
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quote:
Originally posted by wild haggis:

Yes, define "love" please.

It might be a question better explored in Kerygmania, but I guess there is no harm in posting this here.

The classic Christian journey of understanding is to recognise that in the Greek NT, the root word for love used in the scriptures about loving god, self and neighbour is "agape". And the characteristics of agape are described in some depth in 1 Corinthians 13, 4 to 7.

quote:
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Plenty of other references, including 1 John 4 v 8, where in the phrase "God is love", the Greek NT word is "agape".

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mr cheesy
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Which word is it in the context of "love your neighbour", I wonder. I'll go and look.

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mr cheesy
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Yep, that's all agape - in Mark 12:30-34

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Nick Tamen

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
I don't think that refusing to see oneself as the best thing since sliced bread is necessarily akin to suicide and I absolutely don't think one has to have a high impression of one's own self-worth to be able to engage with (and/or help) others.

I agree, and if what I posted suggested otherwise, that was unintentional.

But why are hating oneself and having a high or inflated impression of one's own self worth the two choices? Can someone not look in the mirror and accept what they see, even if they don't like some of what they see. There's a middle ground between "I'm the best thing since sliced bread" and "I'm worthless." There's "I'm someone God loves despite everything I see in the mirror that I don't like."

Seems to me that touches on the heart of the gospel.

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The first thing God says to Moses is, "Take off your shoes." We are on holy ground. Hard to believe, but the truest thing I know. — Anne Lamott

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Nick Tamen:
I agree, and if what I posted suggested otherwise, that was unintentional.

I'm sorry it wasn't supposed to be critical of anything you wrote in particular, it was more of a jumble of thoughts I was having when reading the other contributions in toto.

quote:
But why are hating oneself and having a high or inflated impression of one's own self worth the two choices? Can someone not look in the mirror and accept what they see, even if they don't like some of what they see. There's a middle ground between "I'm the best thing since sliced bread" and "I'm worthless." There's "I'm someone God loves despite everything I see in the mirror that I don't like."

Seems to me that touches on the heart of the gospel.

I suppose this is what I was grasping towards too. Most of us, I suspect, accept the reality of the bodies we have to put up with and respect our own bodily needs to the extent of feeding, clothing and housing ourselves.

Emotionally, I'm suggesting, we might feel revulsion about aspects of ourselves and we might not even particularly like things about ourselves - but in the main, it seems to me that it is the normal everyday things that we do to ourselves even whilst having these feelings about ourselves that we're called to do for others.

OK, yes, a good number of people have really destructive self-hatred which leads to self-harm, over-medication etc and so on. That's not good.

But the majority of us are either just accepting who we are on a day-to-day level - or are regularly disgusted by our own failings and frailties. That's perfectly normal.

Does that make more sense?

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Barnabas62
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Does to me. We function from where we're at, including limited self-awareness, not where we'd like to be. An old vicar mate of mine said that inappropriate guilt was a big problem in the church. Reckoned that many of us have real difficulties believing we're loveable, warts and all.

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mark_in_manchester

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What a helpful thread.

quote:
But self-hate can also be another kind of self-centredness, and equally bad in its effects. An obsession with our own faults can also get in the way of active love of others.
That's my experience. Pride is such a f*cker - inverted, it has us mourning our (so, so important) inadequacies. Un-inverted, it has us lauding our (so, so important) successes.

It's so hard to pick apart the ego without falling into one of these errors; and so hard to leave ourselves with a persona from which to operate whilst being prepared to let all our self-conceptions go and trust in the Lord - whatever that means.

I really want, and pray for, humility. It looks like the way to be free to love. I suspect God may further increase my opportunities to be humble [Smile] . But not humiliated I hope - you need pride to be able to be humiliated, and this is in the wrong direction.

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Nick Tamen

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Yes, mr cheesy, it does make sense.

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The first thing God says to Moses is, "Take off your shoes." We are on holy ground. Hard to believe, but the truest thing I know. — Anne Lamott

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Leaf
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Yep, that's all agape - in Mark 12:30-34

It would have been surprising if it had been eros.
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Martin60
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SOL!

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Love wins

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Barnabas62
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quote:
Originally posted by Leaf:
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Yep, that's all agape - in Mark 12:30-34

It would have been surprising if it had been eros.
It's worth reflecting on this, since eros doesn't appear in the NT. Also, 'eros' in the colloquial Greek of the time was distinct from lust, which is generally represented in the NT by epithymeo. And that word isn't just associated with sexual desire in the NT, but also with nonsexual deep longing. Mutual erotic love doesn't get much coverage in the NT, faring much better, celebrated even, in the OT Song of Songs.

So reading across from NT concepts of love to the understanding of love in our times is not so easy. People who are selfish out of bed are likely to be selfish in bed. Even if they are accomplished, that can still be a power thing.

But there is a lot more to sexual ethics than that. And a lot more to loving relationships than sexual ethics.

[ 07. September 2017, 01:18: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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Who is it that you seek? How then shall we live? How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?

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Ethne Alba
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Loving ourselves first?
Didn't Jesus clear off to be on his own + put that time ahead of being with other people and doing stuff with / for them?

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betjemaniac
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quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:
Absolutely not. Some of the best people at loving others are those who don't love themselves, and so can empathise with others who feel broken and worthless.


Hmmm - rather depends on how you define love surely? If you take it as coming to a level of acceptance of yourself (who and what you are as you are, rather than narcissistic self adoration) then I'd argue that those people you talk about do love themselves. Or at least they are comfortable with themselves.

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And is it true? For if it is....

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no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
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Is there a healthy kind of selfishness which is the sort where you look after yourself and attend to your needs such that others don't find you a burden, and you are not clingy nor dependent? I don't think the feeling aspect of love is very important about this. I personally often don't like myself very much, and this makes me try to be less burdensome and more attentive to others, and fail at that too. (As if I deserve anything. And I'd add that this has nothing whatever to do with negative mood or depression.)

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betjemaniac
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quote:
Originally posted by no prophet's flag is set so...:
Is there a healthy kind of selfishness which is the sort where you look after yourself and attend to your needs such that others don't find you a burden, and you are not clingy nor dependent? I don't think the feeling aspect of love is very important about this. I personally often don't like myself very much, and this makes me try to be less burdensome and more attentive to others, and fail at that too. (As if I deserve anything. And I'd add that this has nothing whatever to do with negative mood or depression.)

sounds much more like self knowledge - and I'd argue that it's difficult to love someone without a high degree of self knowledge. Otherwise you've got very little to calibrate what you're feeling against. YMMV

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And is it true? For if it is....

Posts: 1323 | From: behind the dreaming spires | Registered: Mar 2013  |  IP: Logged
no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
# 15560

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I can go with that. Though does it need to be self knowledge which effects behaviour? For me I think so.
Posts: 10688 | From: Treaty 6 territory in the nonexistant Province of Buffalo, Canada ↄ⃝' | Registered: Mar 2010  |  IP: Logged


 
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