The High Cost of Self Love.

I don’t get upset at non-Christians for acting like non-Christians.  Why would they act any differently?  They aren’t Christians.

Getting upset at a non-Christian for living a life afflicted by sin is like getting angry with a teen-ager for not being able to perform brain surgery.  Even if a non-Christian wanted to live a “moral-life” based on “Christian principles” it wouldn’t be possible for them to do it consistently without the power of God’s Holy Spirit in their lives.

That said,

I was checking my Fantasy Football score on Sunday when I noticed that the top Yahoo Video was a four minute blurb from relationship blogger Niecy Nash on the right time for a lady to “become intimate” with a man. (click the above pic to watch)

Of course I was interested in hearing someone with a different perspective give advice to her girlfriends about how to address the age old problem of when they should “Give up the good stuff”, and when they should wait.

…Because I’m in the business of offering people a different solution to these kinds of “problems”.

After being understandably dismissive about “waitin’ ’till you’re married” (the woman suggesting that option admitted to not waiting herself) Niecy got the girls to open up about the difference between “casual hook-ups” and long term relationships.  Apparently, the main difference was how willing you are to shorten a relationship by being casual about the sex.

While this type of thinking is to be expected from the microwave/self -centered culture we’ve created for ourselves, it didn’t bother me in the way that something else did.

At the 2:22 mark, host Niecey Nash dishes to her assembled girlfriends that, “No man is going to place more value on you than you place on yourself.”  Her point being that no man will treat you right if you don’t treat yourself right first.

While I appreciate, and agree with, the premise that women should feel good about themselves and then expect to be treated well, Niecy’s words do reveal a deep misunderstanding about love that dates all the way back to…  at least “The Greatest Love of All” by Whitney Houston.

The deep misunderstanding being that loving yourself is the key to being loved by others.  She’s saying that people will take advantage of us if we don’t love/respect ourselves first.  I disagree,  maintaining that people are taken advantage of everyday, regardless of how they feel about themselves.

Her reasoning is built on the faulty assumptions that you are capable of loving yourself better than anyone else, and that you can control the responses of other people towards you by teaching them how to love you in return.

When we examine the issue, isn’t “loving ourselves best” actually what keep us from truly loving others, and drives us to use them while we pursue the fulfillment of our own desires.  Which is what the video was actually all about:

“How do I get what I want (relationship) from him, because he’s only trying to get something (sex) from me!”

Niecy’s advice isn’t really a strategy for healthy relationships, it’s a strategy for self-defense against predation…

…while maintaining your own position as a predator.

Looking out for number one, because no one else will look out for you, is historically a coping strategy in scenarios of conquest, warfare, and abuse.

This girl-talk session wasn’t really advice about building and maintaining real relationships, it was about identifying recreational sex as the starting point for relationships, renaming that process as love, and then laying down some rules to play by.

This, sadly, is often as good as life can get for someone who doesn’t know Jesus and the love that he both brings to us and then enables us to offer to others.  This is another reason why we shouldn’t get offended by, or angry AT, non-Christians.  We should get angry FOR them, because the best that they can consistently have without Jesus is a mislabelled coping strategy centered around self-survival.

And that should break our hearts.

Which should drive us towards them.

Offering the person of Jesus.

Because Christians are supposed to be in the business of offering people a different solution to these problems.

I want Niecy to know that when a man loves a woman he will actually treat her better than she treats herself.  If he doesn’t treat her with greater respect than she has for herself, he doesn’t actually love her.

When he loves her, he’s willing to make commitments about protecting, providing, and preparing- long before he gets “the good stuff” on his honeymoon because it’s just not possible to love someone without placing their needs above your own.

Anything less is predation.

Anything less is self-love.

Anything less is re-labelling poison as medicine.

We have better solutions to offer than this.


9 Responses to “The High Cost of Self Love.”

  1. Vicki Hansen December 7, 2011 at 11:19 am #

    What really breaks my heart is how many Christian young women are buying into this same worldly philosophy. It surrounds them in the movies, TV shows, music and friends they listen to. Without the message and example of Jesus’ love in their lives, they too fall very easily.

  2. Jon December 7, 2011 at 11:56 am #

    So true Vicki, glad there are women like you in their lives.

  3. Ty DeHaven December 7, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

    Nailed it. It’s too bad small college baseball players aren’t reading this… Seeing as though most of them just want “the good stuff.” And by good stuff I mean getting a brand new, extra stiff, over sized New Era 59FIFTY hat.

    2 commandments Christ gives his followers

    Love God
    Love Others

    Simple as that

    Christ also said that we are a temple… which society commonly misattributes as selfishly loving yourself. Falsely misinterpreted, and the temple which we call our body can only last on self-fulfillment for so long. Attributed correctly, and we can survive for an eternity by providing love for others before ourselves, building up the body of others, their temple, ultimately glorifying Christ Jesus in the larger body of Christ. “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” 1st Corinthians 12:27

    Loving others goes farther…

    • Jon December 7, 2011 at 12:42 pm #

      Great thoughts, and extremely well written… Now to get that 59FIFTY.

  4. Sharon O December 7, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

    Young ladies get such a hodge podge of mixed messages it scares me to watch my own grand daughters grow up and make decisions. Faith our oldest is only 12 but it is only a matter of time when ‘music, video or others’ will try to dictate to her a value system that is not for her best interest. I pray that it never happens, I pray she values herself more than ‘what everyone is doing.’ We have a niece who had a baby her 9th grade year of highschool. (getting pregnant between 8th and 9th) She kept the baby and has done ok, but if you asked her where the ‘boy’ is?
    she would tell you he is gone and no longer in the picture.
    This is such a good ‘writing’ I hope and pray many will read it. Thanks John

  5. Matt G December 7, 2011 at 10:30 pm #

    In order to have a successful relationship, each party thereto must love the other more than themselves. That cannot be done unless each party loves a Lord who lead by this very example.

    • Jon December 8, 2011 at 8:20 am #

      Right on Matt. Unfortunately, so many people are expecting their partner to “complete” them…

  6. Peter Kagey January 9, 2012 at 1:58 am #

    ‘Even if a non-Christian wanted to live a “moral-life” based on “Christian principles” it wouldn’t be possible for them to do it consistently without the power of God’s Holy Spirit in their lives.’

    Jon, while this might be a traditional idea that I was taught in church, it seems to me now (as a non-Christian myself) to be a pretty radical thesis. I know that you’re a thoughtful guy, so I expect full-well that you’ll be able to explain your reasoning to me on this one.

    Could you expand a bit? Perhaps define your usage of “moral life” and “consistency”.

    You ought to know that you’re one of just a handful of Christian Thinkers who I think is really onto something. Understand that I’m not disagreeing for its own sake, but because I think you will provide an insightful explanation.

    • Jon January 10, 2012 at 5:58 pm #

      Thanks for posting Peter. The line of reasoning that I’m following with that statement is this:

      Christians oten appeal to a “moral life” as a way of living that conforms to their preferred standards. For example, “Tina and I can be friends because even though she’s Mormon and I’m Christian, we are both moral, not like Stacey who is a total Wicca.”

      Many Christians feel that if people would just adhere to a “right and proper way” of living, then the world would be a better place.

      Not realizing that their morals are supposed to come from a relationship with Jesus, they expect that people who don’t have that relationship should unfairly live “the right and proper way” (their way) through conformity and behaviorism.

      This ignores that a person who doesn’t have a relationship with Christ still has morals, just based out of a different set of beliefs and relationships.

      For example, “I’m a hedonist, so Claire and I get along because we both know that neither of us is out for anything but pleasure, and for me to pretend that I care about Nigerian famine instead of going to the Barracuda tonight would be a lie.”

      Non Christians still live in accordance with principles and scruples, and in the case of hedonism will have a very consistent track record.

      In either case, to expect that someone with a different root belief system will share your morals means that you will often be expecting them to conform to something they don’t really believe in… which they will only be able to do for a relatively short period of time (inconsistency).

      Many Christians do this, especially in relation to what they call “traditional values” or “conservative principles”. They expect that people will want to, or be able to, preserve Christian polity through merely human effort.

      Their assertion fails because they don’t recognize that truly Christian morality is only achieved supernaturally… because God is supernatural. Expecting the supernatural to spring from the natural, with consistency, is attempting to live a Christian life… without Christ.

      Christians cannot, and should not, expect this of non-christians.

      To affect Christianity without a relationship with Christ would be disastrous for even the most fastidious of people. Their best efforts would be ever shortening stretches of torturous self-denial, punctuated by extreme, but temporary, expressions of Godliness (my personal belief being that since we are created in the image of God, we are all still capable of genuine altruism… in fits and starts)

      My bottom line? Many American Christians present “morality” as THEIR version of it, and expect others to live up to that based on an appeal to a supposed historical revision.

      To get angry at a non Christian for acting like one, isn’t really Christian. It’s selfish.

      Unfortunately many “christians” want the “Kingdom of God” without the “King” presiding over it.

      Hope this helps clear the smoke!

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