The Self-Love Lie

Recently, the pop singer Demi Lovato released a new hit song entitled, “I Love Me.”* The song is a self-love anthem that encourages listeners to quit beating themselves up and embracing self-destructive habits, instead choosing to love themselves. Here are some of the lyrics: “Why do I compare myself to everyone? / And I always got my finger on the self-destruct / I wonder when I love me is enough / Why am I always looking for a ride or die? / Cause mine’s the only heart I’m gonna have for life / I wonder when I love me is enough.” 

Sadly, Demi’s life story parallels that of many other struggling young adults and teens today. For most of her life, she has struggled with depression, substance abuse, and eating disorders. In 2018, she hit rock bottom when she relapsed, and a heroin overdose sent her to the hospital. Now, fully recovered, she views 2020 as her comeback year.  

However, despite the success of the new song, her recovery, and the applause she has received from all sides, the self-love path that she has chosen is an unbiblical, humanistic philosophy that pushes God out of the process. In fact, self-love is quickly becoming a new false gospel. And the scary part is, its reach is growing by the day. It’s all over social media (Currently, Instagram has 38.6 million posts with #selflove). Young and old alike are embracing it, including many Christians. The problem is, turning to self-love to solve life’s deepest problems is like putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound.  

The said “gunshot wound” is a crisis of meaning. Suicide rates are climbing, substance abuse is rampant, and millions of people are anxious, depressed, and lonely. In a search for meaning, many people pour themselves into work, school, and activities but find little fulfillment and are left exhausted, stretched thin, and burnt-out. People need help, and the self-love philosophy offers hope. 

Like all false gospels, many of self-love’s practices are in alignment with Christianity. Be mindful, make healthy choices, set boundaries, act on what you need rather than what you want, etc. To be clear, there is nothing wrong with taking good care of yourself. That grain of truth makes confronting self-love difficult and sticky. Nevertheless, the underlying agenda promoted by self-love, that you should put yourself first and that you can find meaning, purpose, forgiveness, and acceptance by looking inside yourself is an unbiblical deception that finds its roots in the Garden of Eden. In reality, the self-love mantra often manifests itself in vanity, self-centeredness, self-indulgence, low standards, and lack of motivation to overcome life’s challenges. 

In Romans 3:10, God declares that “None is righteous, no, not one.” And yet, self-love relies on the presumption that humans are essentially good. According to Jeremiah 17:9, looking to yourself for love and fulfillment will inevitably end in frustration and heartbreak for “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Indeed, we are a broken, sinful people incapable of rescuing ourselves and in need of Christ for salvation. 

Self-love can also become an excuse for sinful behavior. If you base your actions on what makes YOU most happy, following your heart as they say, that is a recipe for disaster! Contrary to this notion, Christ calls us to crucify our fleshly desires (Gal. 5:24) and live a life of holiness (1 Pet. 1:16) Does this mean that we should beat ourselves up every time we sin? Of course not. Our God is gracious, good, and full of forgiveness. Nevertheless, may we never use this as an excuse to justify our sin. (Rom. 6:1-2) 

Third, self-love is antithetical to Christianity because it calls us to look to ourselves rather than to look to Christ. We are utterly helpless, hopeless, and lost without Him as our Savior. (Eph. 2:11-12) No amount of daily affirmations, body positive selfies, or good skin care routines will EVER come close to the assurance, peace, love, and fulfillment that Christ freely offers all of humanity. Why would we chase after the meager crumbs of this world when we can run to Him who offers us everything we could ever need or desire? Dear reader, if you are apart from Christ, struggling through a world that wants to chew you up and spit you out, please turn to Christ today.  (Rom. 10:9-10)

2 Timothy 3:2 says that in the last days, “people will be lovers of self.” How true that is of our culture today. Despite our sinfulness, humans are innately religious beings and we want answers. We want love. We want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. This couldn’t be clearer in the song “I Love Me.” Demi asks us all a question…”I wonder when I love me is enough?” If she only knew that “I love me” will never be enough. You will never be enough. I will never be enough. Only Christ is enough.  

*Surprisingly, the singer Meghan Trainor has a different song of the same title. Here are some of the lyrics: “I don’t mean to brag / I don’t mean to boast / I love all y’all / But I love me the most” 😬 

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