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Jesus and Self-Esteem

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I wasn't raised on religion, but I'm from the bible belt and have been around Christians my entire life. I remember having the impression that Jesus is portrayed as a man of great self-esteem. I know this has to be a contradiction because no one with a great deal of self-esteem would ever sacrifice his life for those he considered "sinners." I assume Jesus had very little self-esteem, but is portrayed as the opposite in order to get people to buy into Christianity. I have only read snippets of the bible, and therefore, I'm not that familiar with it. I would appreciate it if people who are more familiar with Christianity could help me find information on Jesus' level of self-esteem.

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One needn't be too learned in Christianity to see that Jesus — assuming he was at all as the Gospels have portrayed him — was anything but a shining exponent of self-esteem.

People who enjoy and appreciate themselves do not demand obedience from others: they don't seek acolytes; they don't set themselves up as all-encompassing authority figures to be followed blindly in the manner that Jesus appears to have done.

To put it another way: If I am at peace with myself — that is, if I enjoy a comfortable relationship with my own person and the world around me — I am unlikely to begin my essential philosophical message with the threat that anyone who disagrees with me will be sentenced to eternal punishment in Hell.

The very essence of Christianity is suffering, self-sacrifice, and the total abnegation of man's life and well-being on earth. This is not a matter of interpretation, but of explicit and repeated statement throughout all of the relevant literature. If Jesus meant anything that he taught, he could only have been a profoundly unhappy person indeed.

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I remember having the impression that Jesus is portrayed as a man of great self-esteem.
I've never seen Jesus portrayed as a man of great self-esteem. He is usually portrayed as a man of great humility and meekness.

But he certainly suffered from delusions of grandeur. He thought he was God. Whether that implies an abnormally low self esteem or is unrelated to self esteem is a question for a psychologist.. I'm not sure about it.

[Edit: Ohh, hi, Gretchen! I just realized that's you.. I didn't know you post here. : )]

The very essence of Christianity is suffering, self-sacrifice, and the total abnegation of man's life and well-being on earth. This is not a matter of interpretation, but of explicit and repeated statement throughout all of the relevant literature.
Do you consider the writings of Thomas Aquinas to be relevant literature? (I think he would have disagreed with your view about the essence of Christianity, which seems to be the Augustinian interpretation). Edited by Bold Standard
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Huh. Yet another interesting topic :) .

Don't know much about Jesus, but I know someone who holds giving to others, making others happy, as a virtue, and he's got lots of self esteem.

The thing is: he genuinely believe that giving to others is good. And after he does it he feels more proud of himself.

I think that it is perfectly possible to adopt a morality that is false, and yet gain self-esteem by following it. Some criminals, for example, gain pride by stealing... they equal crime with manlihood, independence, or whatever other good trait, and feel like a million bucks after a successful hit.

However, in Jesus case, he preaches for humility, and at the same time he claims to be the son of god. Oh-uh. Bad combination. I know the type. This reminds me of an older thread, about a priest named Haggard. (Prepare for a long quote):

If people create only by the mercy and will of god than nobody can be better than him. And in fact, while god gave them the job of dealing with science, god put him in charge of showing the light to mankind. (you tell me who is more important?)

This Haggard guy reminds me of a close relative of mine. It is scary to try to examine this guy's psychology. And though it might not be directly related to the topic of the thread, I am still interested in phrasing my understanding / observations of the man's psychology. His motivation, his source of self confidence, his methods of attracting others.

I believe his type are motivated by the desire to believe in their own greatness. But since he does not accept "existence exists" nor reason as his guide, he becomes a second hander: people are his source of knowledge rather than whole of reality: for him objects are creations of the mind, subject to the will of man (by that I mean "if I wish it hard enough the traffic light would turn green faster"), and the only real thing is people's "souls".

He realizes that for people to believe in his greatness he has to project confidence and superiority, but in order for them to stick around he has to offer them equality (between himself and them). He offers them complete acceptance, and equal status to his own (spiritually), if they surrender to his ideas.

His self-confidence is based on the admiration of other people for him, of their trust in him, but mainly his self-confidence is generated by his desire to project it. It is like a circle: he knows that if he'll project it, a buyer will soon come who will "buy it" and allow him to believe it even more.

His devotion to god serves a double purpose: 1) only a being like a god (which is the greatest consciousness) has the power to make him the Masayach (which is what he would like to believe that he is). And 2) showing his surrender to god, says to his followers and to people : "I am in the same status as you, we are all equal. I am not patronizing you, and nobody has the right to patronize".

The last one was his method to attract people. Another one is by offering them acceptance, freedom from guilt. Dependant people are an easy pray for him.

What makes him frightening is the fact that he is so calm, and looks self confident, yet he has no means of dealing with reality if he was stranded on a desert island.

In fact I think that a desert island, or being alone in the long term are his worst enemies. He might want to be alone sometimes, because during those times it would allow him to think how great and independent he is, but if he knew that the charade has no purpose, that there are no people to impress tomorrow, he would quickly rot mentally. I don't think he would keep on praying to god anymore if he knew that there would be no more people around him, though in his everyday life he is probably sure that his belief in god is sincere.

Here is something funny he said, that I believe also demonstrates my psychological analysis of him:

(the "hahaha" thing was added by me)

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Since Jesus never existed, at least not in any form similar to the gospel descriptions, I'd say he was a man of no esteem at all. But the character named "Jesus" as described by the authors of the books we know as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, seemed to be very confident and assertive. But it's easy to make a character in a book confident and assertive when you as the author can endow him with godlike powers.

It's humorous, however, that this character evidently vastly overestimated his own power. See Matthew 16:28, 23:36, 24:34, 26:64; Mark 9:1, 13:30, 14:62; Luke 9:27, 21:32. Matthew 16:28 says: "Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom." When you take all of Jesus' words about his return, it's obvious that he was promising to return very soon. That's what his words meant and that's what his listeners understood. There's no getting around that by claiming that he meant the end of the "age" and not "generation" etc. Two thousand years later and we're still waiting for his "soon return." It's obvious that Jesus made promises he couldn't keep, which means maybe he didn't have self-esteem as much as delusions of grandeur, as suggested by Bold Standard.

I suppose one could argue that after returning to heaven he finally got some self esteem and decided not to waste any more time with the morons down below who were waiting for him to return and boss them around.

Question: If you based an entire belief system on a charismatic leader's promise to return within the next hundred years (at least), how many years would the community of believers wait before accepting that said leader was a false messiah?

On the flip side, I'd point out that Jesus whole message was dependent on the LACK of self-esteem in those who would accept him as their saviour.

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I think that it is perfectly possible to adopt a morality that is false, and yet gain self-esteem by following it. Some criminals, for example, gain pride by stealing... they equal crime with manlihood, independence, or whatever other good trait, and feel like a million bucks after a successful hit.

A criminal might feel like a million dollars after stealing as much, but how does he feel about himself long-range? What got him into crime in the first place? What makes him believe that his attempt to live by force is any kind of appropriate course for a human being? What type of void must exist between his ears for him to associate his blatant parasitism with masculinity, superior virtue, or — egads — independence?

Don't confuse an outwardly belligerent or hostile attitude with a genuine sense of efficacy and worth; don't imagine that every person on the face of the planet is sincerely concerned to live a moral life. Few criminals are victims of honest errors of reasoning: most are appallingly non-thinking entities, motivated not so much by faulty moral codes as they are by the desperate desire to prove that issues of right and wrong have nothing to do with them.

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A criminal might feel like a million dollars after stealing as much, but how does he feel about himself long-range? What got him into crime in the first place? What makes him believe that his attempt to live by force is any kind of appropriate course for a human being? What type of void must exist between his ears for him to associate his blatant parasitism with masculinity, superior virtue, or — egads — independence?

Don't confuse an outwardly belligerent or hostile attitude with a genuine sense of efficacy and worth; don't imagine that every person on the face of the planet is sincerely concerned to live a moral life. Few criminals are victims of honest errors of reasoning: most are appallingly non-thinking entities, motivated not so much by faulty moral codes as they are by the desperate desire to prove that issues of right and wrong have nothing to do with them.

I agree entirely with these two statements. I have heard stories of some pretty successful criminals from police officers. In one case, a notorious jewel thief who had a "successful" career of many years urinated in his pants when he was caught. He was caught while wearing black clothing and a ski mask that he used to sneak into women's bedrooms at night when they weren't there to steal their jewels. How masculine is that?

As for a thief's thinking, I had the mis-fortune to read a book written by this same thief after he became an old man. His book amounts to a several hundred page rationalization of his cowardly crimes, asserting that the rich don't need their jewels, and that he was more clever and smarter than they were. How independent is that?

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A criminal might feel like a million dollars after stealing as much, but how does he feel about himself long-range? What got him into crime in the first place? What makes him believe that his attempt to live by force is any kind of appropriate course for a human being? What type of void must exist between his ears for him to associate his blatant parasitism with masculinity, superior virtue, or — egads — independence?

Don't confuse an outwardly belligerent or hostile attitude with a genuine sense of efficacy and worth; don't imagine that every person on the face of the planet is sincerely concerned to live a moral life. Few criminals are victims of honest errors of reasoning: most are appallingly non-thinking entities, motivated not so much by faulty moral codes as they are by the desperate desire to prove that issues of right and wrong have nothing to do with them.

If all of this is a response to what I said, then you were responding to much more than what I actually said.

I got this reaction the last time I posted something about this, and I can understand why: it implies that they can "get away with it" and lose nothing.

But I don't think they lose nothing. Just that they lose other things, not necessarily self-esteem.

I take self-esteem to be just what the words imply: evaluation of one's own worth according to one's own standard.

So assuming the thief does have self-esteem, What does he lose by having a bad morality? In other words, what is the effect of morality on one's psychology and emotional reward from life?

I've been thinking about this subject, but don't have anything solid enough yet. A case that helped me analyze this question was something a friend of mine does: She thinks that lying in certain cases is alright (like lying to her lover about dating another man because it would hurt his feelings and would not help the relationship anyway). I was thinking "what does she lose, emotionally, by doing this?". The answer I came up with, is "How does she know that her lover wants her for herself?". There is a huge satisfaction in knowing that one is loved for who one genuinely is. In her case, she gets to keep her lover, but needs to pretend to herself that he wants her whole-heartedly, for all she is, because in fact, what he wants is the image of her that she allows him to see.

In the thief's case, there would be loss of moral certainty in defending his own property, or perhaps loss of the concept of morality (Living by the law of the jungle "I'm stronger so I steal")... which would mean that he won't be able to love (because love requires discrimination between good and bad traits). Loss of integration ability, and eventually, I imagine there has to be some self-doubt. I think it depends on individual psychology.

But in any case, there would be some emotional loss of something that would be possible for a moral man.

I think it's very important to connect morality to emotional reward, and not just analyze the question "why should one be moral" from a general perspective of "man's nature is such that it requires the full use of his mind.... won't be able to survive on a desert island otherwise", etc'.

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I got this reaction the last time I posted something about this, and I can understand why: it implies that they can "get away with it" and lose nothing.
I think the reaction has more to do with a disagreement over your use of "self esteem" than a rebellion against the possibility of injustice in the world.

I take self-esteem to be just what the words imply: evaluation of one's own worth according to one's own standard.
How do the words imply that self-esteem is subjective?

Although I'm reluctant to recommend this author twice (because of severe disagreements with his statements about Objectivism, among other reasons), I'm really curious if you've read any of Nathaniel Branden's early books on self esteem, such as The Psychology of Self Esteem. I mentioned them the last time we discussed this, too (maybe in the chat). I think he had some really valuable things to say about self esteem. I think that self esteem is more than an evaluation of one's own worth according to some explicit standard one has chosen, or that someone is trying to convince himself that he's chosen. I think it's a longstanding reputation one develops with oneself, that includes many subconscious evaluations that happen automatically, and involve a person's sense of life, and relationship to reality in general.

It's a person's real evaluation of self, and people who are delusional in general are likely to present a false sense of self-worth that is a poor and deceptive representation their true self-esteem. And although I'm not really qualified to make this type of judgment, it's my suspicion that if someone is drawn into a life of crime, that alone is a good indicator that their self-esteem is already deficient. In normal circumstances. I can think of one fictional pirate who had high self esteem, though.. His initials are RD.

Edited by Bold Standard
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