The Sin of Self-Esteem by Thomas S. Buchanan

The Sin of Self-Esteem

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves.
—Philippians 2:3

Before Gregory the Great came up with the list known as the seven deadly sins, John Cassian wrote of the eight vices, the seventh of which is the vice of self-esteem. This is a sin that is no longer considered to be a sin by many. Although narcissism is still considered (by most) to be wrong, this younger brother of self-love is very popular. Modern education theory places a tremendous emphasis on increasing a child’s self-esteem, almost as much as teaching him about the newfound virtue of tolerance. Hence, we are told that we must be careful not to damage a child’s self-esteem by giving him a failing grade, even if it is deserved, because he might come to realize that he is not as good as he thinks he is. For some reason the proponents of such ideas think it is more important to have an inordinately high regard for oneself than a proper one. Self-respect and a proper sense of self-worth are not sins, but holding oneself in high esteem is.

This sin is ubiquitous and difficult to master. In his Institutes Cassian wrote:

THIS ARTICLE ONLY AVAILABLE TO SUBSCRIBERS.
FOR QUICK ACCESS:


Thomas S. Buchanan is the George W. Laird Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Delaware. He has studied at UCSD, Northwestern University, and MIT, and has held visiting professorships at the University of Western Australia and the University of Aix-Marseille. He has served as department chairman, deputy dean, and institute director, president of the American Society of Biomechanics, and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Applied Biomechanics. He is on the Board of Trustees of Saint Katherine College, the editorial board of Touchstone, and the board of The Fellowship of St. James.

Print &
Online Subscription

Get six issues (one year) of Touchstone PLUS full online access including pdf downloads for only $39.95. That's only $3.34 per month!

Online
Subscription

Get a one-year full-access subscription to the Touchstone online archives for only $19.95. That's only $1.66 per month!

bulk subscriptions

Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to touchstonemag.com—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.

Transactions will be processed on a secure server.


more from the online archives

32.6—November/December 2019

Strategic Christians

The Year of Our Lord 1943: Christian Humanism in an Age of Crisis by Alan Jacobs by Jesse Russell

33.4—July/August 2020

Dwelling in Unity

Our Views on the President Are Not Crucial by S. M. Hutchens

26.1—Jan/Feb 2013

The Destroyer of Peace

on Abortion as a Matter of National Welfare by W. Ross Blackburn

calling all readers

Please Donate

"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand

"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor

Support Touchstone

00