Even though the Bible does not teach self-love, self-esteem, self-worth, or self-actualization as virtues, helps, or goals, a vast number of present-day Christians have been deceived by the self-teachings of humanistic psychology. Rather than resisting the enticement of the world they become culture-bound. Not only do they not resist the tidal wave of selfism; they are riding the crest of self-esteem, self- acceptance, and self-love. One can hardly tell the difference between the Christian and the non-Christian in the area of the self, except that the Christian adds God as the main source for his self-esteem, self-acceptance, self-worth, and self-love.
If there is one thing the world and many in the church have in common these days, it's the psychology of self-esteem. Although Christians may disagree about some of the nuances of self-esteem, self-worth, and self-acceptance, and even on some of the finer points of definition and how it is attained, too many have joined forces against what they believe is a formidable enemy - low self-esteem. Yet, even the world cannot justify promoting high self-esteem through its own methods of research.
No Research Justification for Self-Esteem
A few years ago the California legislature passed a bill creating the California Task Force to Promote Self-Esteem and Personal and Social Responsibility. The twofold title of the Task Force was quite an assumption. No one has ever demonstrated that promoting self-esteem is in any way related to personal and social responsibility. Nor has anyone proved that all those who exhibit personal and social responsibility have high self-esteem. Self-esteem and social and personal responsibility actually appear to be negatively rather than positively related.
The Task Force believed that esteeming oneself and growing in self-esteem would reduce "dramatically the epidemic levels of social problems we currently face."
Is There a Positive Relationship Between High or Low Self-Esteem and Personal and Social Responsibility?
The results were then published in a book titled The Social Importance of Self-Esteem. Has the relationship been established between self-esteem and social problems? David L. Kirk, syndicated writer for the San Francisco Examiner, said it bluntly:
That . . . scholarly tome, The Social Importance of Self-Esteem, summarizes all the research on the subject in the stultifyingly boring prose of wannabe scientists. Save yourself the 40 bucks the book costs and head straight for the conclusion: There is precious little evidence that [low] self-esteem is the cause of our social ills (David L. Kirk, "Lack of Self Esteem is Not the Root of All Ills." Santa Barbara News-Press, 15 January 1990).
Even though they searched for a connection between low self-esteem and problematic behavior, they could not find a cause and effect link. However, more recent studies indicate a definite relationship between violent behavior and high self-esteem. Nevertheless, faith in self-esteem dies hard and schools continue to work on building high self-esteem.