How Can We Love and Accept What We Despise in Ourselves? pPart 2
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

How Can We Love and Accept What We Despise in Ourselves? part 2

I have been reflecting on the following quotation from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr: “We will continue to despise people, until we have recognized, loved, and accepted what is despicable in ourselves.” Today I will consider the third component – accepting what we find despicable in ourselves.
Such acceptance is difficult because we tend to judge ourselves as our parents and peers have judged us. Conditioned by their disapproval when we have fallen short of expectations, we have felt inner shame about our shortcomings. I think self-assessment and our assessment of others should have the same standard – discerning right from wrong without passing judgment. Indeed, Jesus said, “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37).
I think it can be helpful to discern shameful thoughts and desires from shameful actions. We all have shameful thoughts and desires – we can’t avoid desiring things that perhaps we shouldn’t have. I don’t think we should feel shame for thoughts and desires over which we have no control. We have much more control over how we live. Even so, Paul lamented, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15). I think that, at the end of the day, we should strive for perfection. Jesus taught, “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48), and I think that this should be our goal as long as we remain mindful that, as humans, we invariably fall “short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). 

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