Saturday, June 8, 2024

Self-Love: The Passion of our Time (Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The whole debate about homosexuals and their "marriage" that is taking place nowadays has primarily highlighted, among other things, the passion of self-love. Of course, this does not only apply to homosexuals, but also to heterosexuals, when they place as the center of their lives the irrational and excessive love for their body, and limit themselves only to instincts, misrecognizing the whole human being. This in the patristic tradition of the Church is called self-love.

The word "self-love" (filautia - φιλαυτία) in modern language is interpreted as "the excessive love for oneself," "egomania," in contrast to the love for others (filallilia - φιλαλληλία). However, in the patristic tradition, self-love is not considered as love for ourselves, but as excessive love for our body with the satisfaction of all its demands and pleasures.

Saint Maximus the Confessor, for example, writes that self-love is "the irrational love of the body." Elsewhere he writes that self-love is "the impassioned and irrational love towards the body." And elsewhere he writes that self-love is a "passion for the body." Thus, self-love is the passion for the body, the impassioned and irrational love towards the body, hence self-love is opposed to love and self-control, for this reason "he who has self-love reveals that he has all the passions."

According to Saint Maximus the Confessor, self-love, as an absurd irrational love of the body, is the root of all passions, which means that all passions are preceded by self-love and followed by the "pinnacle," which is pride. Self-love is "the mother of passions," the root from which all passions come, such as the three most general "impassioned thoughts" of gluttony, love for glory and vainglory, and from there is born all "the list of evils." Thus, "he who has self-love reveals that he has all the passions."

The irrational love for the body is expressed by the satisfaction of all its demands, pleasures and needs, regardless of the whole constitution of man, the sovereignty of his reason and ethics in the general and specific sense of the term. With the passion of self-love, man wants, on the one hand, to satisfy all bodily pleasures and sexual urges without limits, on the other hand, not to rest the body immeasurably, so that it is not subjected to sacrifices.

All the immeasurable "sexuality" and its continuous satisfaction, which is the model of modern man and modern society, is subject to the passion of self-love. However, the asceticism of the Church aims at confronting self-love with asceticism according to Christ and the balance between soul and body in relation to Christ's commandments. Therefore, as Saint Maximus the Confessor writes, "stop loving yourself and you will love God." And whoever is a lover of God is also lover of others, on the other hand the lover of self is both a hater of God and a hater of others. I believe that the basic passion of our time is the passion of self-love, as defined by the Fathers of the Church.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.