The problem with “Love your neighbour as you love yourself”

photo by Laurenz Kleinheider/ unsplash

Seems like a no-brainer, right? How could I have a problem with this? Of course we want to love others and be loving people, who are unselfish and do not only care about ourselves. However, there is a big glaring hole that is being sidestepped in this very well known foundational /religious teaching.

Now, before I go any further, I feel I need to come clean. I was raised in a very strict, religious household and discovered rather early on that religion was not a good fit for me. I did connect deeply with ‘God’ (Goddess/Divine Consciousness/Source/Universe/etc.) and that connection has never left me, through all my explorations and interrogations. I have become a woman who has developed great respect for the choices of others in terms of beliefs and religion, or lack thereof, understanding that these things are not a one size fits all proposition, and free will is a gift for every one of us.

The glaring hole that I see in this desire to love one’s neighbour as oneself is the lack of emphasis on how important the self-love part is in this equation. It is evident, when we observe the world around us that the majority of people do not love themselves, regardless of their culture, background, gender, belief or religious persuasion. This means for many people, loving others looks like judgment, criticism, dishonesty, betrayal, abandonment, abuse, neglect, resentment and lack of forgiveness. This is deeply sad, not only as a reflection of the painful diatribes going on inside many of us, but also because it is completely understandable. Self-love is not a value that is promoted in a capitalistic society, where the almighty dollar reigns supreme. People who don’t love themselves are much better consumers for the endless products that one needs to prove their worthiness, but for now on this, I digress.

What I did hold on to from my religious upbringing were a few biblical teachings that have stuck with me, and served me well over the years. I will, to my own surprise, share two of them with you.

1st: “God (Goddess/Divine Consciousness/Source/Universe/etc.) is love.”

In any situation I’ve found myself in, if I felt that there was no love present, that was my sign to exit scene left. Never have I regretted following this feeling.

How would one recognize the presence of love if it hasn’t been taught? Great question.

2nd: Love as described in Corinthians 13. “Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not arrogant. It does not dishonor others, does not insist on its own way, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

Idealistic? Maybe. But just imagine if all people were taught to love themselves like this? What I like to call ‘radical and unconditional self-love and acceptance with a side of forgiveness to go’. Yes please.

This could change everything. Every relationship, family, community, business, school, government, city, state/province and country could not help but shift if the foundational values that they were built on were to support every single person in loving themselves with kindness and precious care, and each other too. So many current hot topics on the news right now could find simple resolution if the question being asked in all situations was: What would love do?

Just a thought.

the lily and rose featured photo by: Laurenz Kleinheider/


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