Question: What do you think about the teaching that we all hate ourselves and have to learn to love ourselves?
Response: First of all, I’d say it’s not even rational. Ephesians:5:29 says no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth it and cherisheth it.
Having to learn to love ourselves is a totally new “doctrine” within the church. Read A. W. Tozer, Moody, Torrey, Spurgeon, Andrew Murray. You won’t find it in any of them. It’s been picked up the last 45 years from psychologists; men who did not get it by studying the Word of God on their knees in prayer.
Erich Fromm, an atheist, popularized the idea of self-love. He got it from Nietzsche. One of Fromm’s books was Ye Shall Be as Gods. He took the lie of the serpent for its title. In his book, Man for Himself, he justified the idea that we all hate ourselves and that we need to learn to love ourselves by saying that Jesus taught it when He said, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” (Mt 22:39).
Let’s look at Matthew:22:36-40. Jesus gave the two great commandments: love God and love your neighbor. Today, a third one has been introduced: love yourself. However, if we were deficient in self-love, Jesus wouldn’t have said to love your neighbor as you love yourself, because he said it to everybody and not to a certain class or category of people.
So it’s a given—we must already love ourselves. And He couldn’t say “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Mt 7:12) if we all innately hated ourselves and wanted to do ourselves harm.
This teaching came into the church from psychology and was picked up by Robert Schuller in his book, Self-love: The Dynamic Force of Success. Since then, it has moved throughout the church and has been picked up by men in the best pulpits. There are no scriptures to support it. Read Philippians:2:3 and Romans:12:2.
Remember, God made man in his image. C. S. Lewis wrote, “We are but mirrors whose brightness, if we are bright at all, depends entirely on the Son which shines upon us.”
If there’s something wrong with the image in the mirror, the mirror needs to get back in line with the one whose image it was designed to reflect. But instead of being turned toward God and a relationship with Him, we’re being turned to ourselves, a self-image psychology.
The Scriptures say, “but we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image” (2 Cor:3:18). What we’re being taught today is that we need to visualize our self-image as we want it to be—focus our self-concept and then we’ll be transformed into that. That is absolutely opposite what the Bible says, and it is destructive to biblical Christianity.