Original Research

A Christian understanding of the significance of love of oneself in loving God and neighbour: Towards an integrated self-love reading

Hannelie Wood
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 72, No 3 | a3401 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v72i3.3401 | © 2016 Hannelie Wood | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 March 2016 | Published: 27 September 2016

About the author(s)

Hannelie Wood, Department of Philosophy, Practical and Systematic Theology, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


This article addresses the meaning of the great commandment of love (Mt. 22:35–40) with afocus on the understanding of self-love as considered within a Christian context. Christians ingeneral understand the commandment as applying to love of God and one’s neighbour. Thereference to self-love tends to be ignored or misunderstood, especially when love of self isviewed in the context of the Christian virtues of humility and self-mortification. The conceptof narcissism (self-preoccupation or self-glorification) has devastating effects on relationshipswith God, human beings and the world. In the Christian context self-love is not a thirdcommandment and it is not clearly outlined in Scripture. Furthermore, the love of oneselfseems to be the norm by which the love of God and neighbour are measured. It appearstherefore that by bringing narcissism into the equation of self-love, a better understanding canbe achieved of what a healthy Christian self-love should entail. Furthermore, a brief discussionon the views of the self as mind, emotions and will as well as agape, philia and eros is requiredfor a proposed integrated self-love reading.


Self-love; narcissism; biblical foundation for self-love


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