People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God~ 2nd Timothy 3:2-4 NIV
I was recently struck by a painful reality.
The nature of the times we live in is such that the instant I dare to think I have finally seen it all, something new (and unimaginably bizarre) comes along and reminds me all over again that the human race never stops inventing crazy crap to do and creative new ways to express their sin nature (Romans 1:30).
The latest epiphany came in the form of an odd new movement: sologamy. Otherwise known as the act of marrying oneself.
Seriously, it’s a thing. For reals.
There is a website (imarriedme.com) that sells kits for those folks (kits start at $50.00 and go as high as $230.00) interested in making the ultimate commitment to self-love. The individual making the promise to love him or her self till they breathe their last breath procures the kit and clothing befitting the occasion (some purchase wedding dresses or rent tuxedos). Guests are invited to observe as the person recites their vows while gazing into a handheld mirror. The service can be completed with or without a pastor or Justice of the Peace officiating. The vows are followed by a reception where the attending guests celebrate the happy individual and their promise to satisfy their own best interests above all others.
I am not making this up.
Then, I suppose, (I have no actual data on this) the newly committed solagamist goes off on a solo honeymoon trip to memorialize their newly minted commitment and to spoil themselves a little bit.
I struggled a little bit with where exactly to go with this post. On the one hand, the whole concept of marrying oneself is just a silly, frivolous and rather sad trend. It’s easy to argue that solagamy is really not significant enough to bother getting worked up over. It really is tempting to dismiss solagamy as just another weird example of 21st century self-indulgence run amok.
Nevertheless, the trend of solagamy (and it is rapidly becoming a trend) says some significant and scary things about where we are at and where we are going as a culture.
I find this peculiar trend troubling for a number of different reasons and on a number of different levels.
The decadence of a ceremony that celebrates commitment to self-love leaves me with a skeezy, almost dirty feeling. It’s just kind of icky. Furthermore, the uninhibited hedonism of the whole affair is disturbing. The decadence of the trend is without question a sad indicator of a people who long for meaning and purpose in their lives. Then there’s the gloomy reality that marriage has been dumbed-down to a place where many in our culture sincerely believe that a wedding is nothing more than a big fancy party we throw for our own pleasure and an occasion to show-off our event planning skills. All that being said, mostly I just feel a soul-wrenching sadness that so many in our society have become so lonely and isolated that solo weddings are actually becoming an industry.
Sadly, it’s not just the world of romance and weddings that has been affected by our collective love affair with self. Instilling self-esteem (another term for self-love) in their children is now the number one concern of today’s parents, beating out almost every other parenting concern including teaching their kids right from wrong and ensuring that their children are educated well enough to enter the work force. It’s not just parents who are concerned with self-esteem. According to forbes.com, Americans spend a whopping eleven billion dollars on self-help and self-esteem books every year. We are encouraged in obvious-and not so obvious- ways to find ourselves, love ourselves and do right by number one, because if we don’t no one else will.
All this self-adoration (worship really) flys in the face of the biblical mandate to “lose yourself” (Luke 17:33) and the biblical call to put the interests of others above our own (Philippians 2:3, Romans 13:8). Self-worship (and that is what this is) is as different from “love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18, Mark 12:30-33) as cats are from kangaroos. The biblical mandate presupposes that we already think enough of our selves and care enough for ourselves to set a reasonable standard for how we ought treat others. The self-esteem movement assumes that we need to focus more attention on ourselves before we even begin to think about anyone else’s needs or wants.
As Christians we may or may not be able to change the trajectory of our self-focused culture (2nd Timothy 3:2). That remains to be seen. However, we can model healthy self-care (a biblical concept) and show people that it is possible to be happy, fulfilled and cared for while loving others and putting their needs above our own. We can also use this trend to point people hungry for love, affection and care to Jesus, the one who loves them even more than they love themselves.