Christianity and Self-Esteem

I was raised in a strict Irish Catholic environment and was taught that others were more important and should always be put first- their wants, needs, and feelings. I formally rejected this at 13 but it has stayed with me all my life.

I read the Bible sometimes and while it’s a lot different that I was taught- it’s not all harsh and negative- it has a lot of harsh and difficult stuff in it. The core of hardline Christianity- which includes Baptists and traditional evangelicals as well as Catholics, but not the upper or middle class Protestant denominations- is in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5 through 7, which starts with the Beatitudes and continues as one long statement. Highlights of this are- bad thoughts (sexual or violent) are the same as bad actions, no divorce is permissible, passively accept violence, pray for and love your enemies, do not judge others, few find salvation.

So, is it ok to value yourself? Or is self-love sinful? There is a lot of debate on what exactly this all means, but I have neither the sophistication nor the inclination to try to figure it all out. I have to value myself, to value myself more than I value others, for my happiness, well-being and functioning.

5 Responses to Christianity and Self-Esteem

  1. Erik says:

    Your questions made me think of Hubert Selby. He wrote a Psalm based on the conflict of biblical teaching and human needs. I’m not sure if this is quite the same idea you had, but I always really liked this one:

    Psalm III (Hubert Selby)

    How long the night of my pain Lord,
    And short the days of my joy?

    Why does the darkness shroud my soul at noon
    And the light stop at my doorway?

    Is it my knees You want me to bend?
    Is it my will You would have me surrender?

    I bow to no man so how can I surrender to You?

    You talk of mercy,
    But I dispense judgements,
    You talk of love,
    But I must live in strength,
    You talk of forgiveness
    Yet I must be ready to defend

    I deal with my tormentors as they would me!

    Better I should not hear your voice
    When all You say drives me mad,
    And all I can do is scream at the darkened sun
    Shine! SHINE!
    And thaw the frozen marrow in my bones….

    O Lord

    O Lord

    How short the days of my joy?
    How long the nights of my despair?

  2. Omega Man says:

    I guess that is kind of how I feel. I saw Hubert Selby once at a Henry Rollins spoken word show, he was great.

  3. Sheila Tone says:


    “I formally rejected this at 13 “.. yeah, when you had your bar mitzvah.

    • Omega Man says:

      I’m glad to see you again, Sheila. Skepticism is a good trait, considering the amount of BS out there. I’m curious though, if I’m not who I say I am, who am I? Jewish, apparently, but what else?

      • Sheila Tone says:

        I’d much rather hold that over you than give it away so easily.

        And if you really had this ingrained Catholic morality, lying would bother you. You’d get angry when people do it.

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