November 1, 2006
In the past on some blogs, when trying to discuss gay theology with some folks I’ve gotten responses that my positions essentially boil down to “self-love”– that because I advocate love of self they should be rejected.
I get the feeling that there is some body of work out there on the conservative side of things that must be propagating the view that homosexuality is related to self-love. I have looked for it, but not been successful in finding it (at least in the Episcopal world).
Since we’ve just finished studying St. Augustine in my Patristics class and our friends who claim to be “Orthodox” assert a return to “traditional” Christianity as espoused by the fathers, I thought I would share a few thoughts of Augustine’s on the topic of self-love. If you need a little refresher, Augustine was the creator of the doctrine of original sin– but don’t hold that against him. He is also the creator of the doctrine of grace and freedom.
- Augustine clearly believed that love of God was most important.
- He also believed that in order to love God we must love ourselves as the image of God.
- The love of self is the basis for loving others.
- It is inordinate self-love that Augustine is concerned about, when love of self begins to depricate the relationship with God or with others.
I have yet to meet a gay or lesbian person who does not believe that they were created in the image of God (we are all in different places of acceptance, but I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t believe that they should believe it). Loving and embracing ourselves fully as those children of God is essential to living as gay and lesbian Christians.
The lack of self-love creates an unhealthy place, where some people cannot embrace how they have been created. It leads to the unhealthy situation of not being able to be fully out, not being able to accept one’s sexual orientation, or at worst trying to change one’s sexual orientation. These things are not embracing, loving, things to do when we see ourselves as created in the image of God. This is inordinate self-love– trying to put our will over the will of our Creator, to create our own image of ourselves instead of embrace the image of God within us– in some cases going so far as to try to change our sexual orientation.
I’m not trying to condemn anybody here. Of course we are not perfect– we are all sinful and we need grace and freedom to move forward on our journeys, and that is the beauty of God that we are given those gifts. But to say that self-love is un-Christian is just wrong as a matter of historical fact.
Dare I call it revisionist?