What does the Bible say about selfies? Nothing, of course, since the idea of taking a picture of yourself and posting it to social media was obviously a foreign concept when the Bible was written. But the Bible does talk a lot about the motivations of the heart, and what makes “selfies” good or bad depends on the inner intent.
The Bible Says Self-Exaltation Is Sin/Bad. Is Your Motive in Posting Selfies Self-Exaltation?
A “selfie”, which is taking a picture of yourself, is not bad. Why we do what we do with that picture will determine if God is pleased or displeased with our actions. Most often, selfies are rooted in self-exaltation.
The name “selfie” does not bode well for any defense against the idea that most selfies are self-exalting. We must not judge the motives of others, but we must judge our own motives. When being honest with ourselves and God, it’s not a great shock to admit that when you take a selfie and post it on social media in the hopes that as many people as possible “like” it, the person this is exalting is “self.”
Self-exaltation is one of the most dangerous sins in the Bible. It’s rooted in pride, and pride keeps us from God (Psalm 138:6). Self-exaltation is the opposite purpose for people. God created us to glorify God, not ourselves (Isaiah 43:7).
One of the greatest men in the Bible was John the Baptist. Jesus’ glowing endorsement of John can be found in Luke 7:28, “I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”
Perhaps if John the Baptist had a smart phone he would have snapped a picture of himself and posted it on Facebook to show his mom and close friends, just to let them know how he was doing while serving the Lord in the desert. That would be a nice thing to do. But he would have been the last person to post a self-centered selfie on social media just for the sole purpose of exalting himself. In John 3:27-30, he explains in his own words how he feels about exalting self:
John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ 29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”
John’s joy was found in exalting Jesus Christ, not himself. He likened himself to a friend of the bridegroom, Jesus. When you go to a wedding, especially when you are the bridal party, your job is to celebrate the couple, not yourself. Likewise, we, like John, are to live every day like we are a good friend to the bridegroom. We are to exalt Jesus and his love for the church, not ourselves. It would be disgusting and ridiculous for the bridal party to jump in front of every picture of the groom and bride. Selfies can be a lot like that.
The Bible Says Self-Worth Is Found In God Alone. Is Your Motive in Posting Selfies to Find Self-Worth?
Besides self-exaltation, selfies are often taken to enhance someone’s feelings of self-worth. There is nothing bad about wanting to be liked, wanting to be loved, and even pursuing this in healthy ways from other people. Selfies, however, are most often not a good outlet to gaining self-worth.
Selfies are rooted in your physical appearance. If your self-worth is tied to your physical appearance, you will have some extreme highs but will have more extreme lows, and eventually you will just have lows. For one, physical beauty is very subjective. One person will think you’re a 10, the next person will think you’re a 7, and the next a 3. Social media gathers responses from a enormous variety of people. The odds everyone giving you a 10 on your selfie post is impossible. Therefore it’s impossible to have a perfect self-worth through the opinions of others because we all know 1 critic always influences our feelings more than a 1000 admirers.
Self-worth should not be rooted in selfies because no one on planet earth has stayed physically beautiful or handsome, by worldly standards, for very long. A selfie is often a way to get people to admire your physical beauty. People get old, skin gets wrinkled, hair goes grey, and the body begins to decay until finally it is laid in the dirt. Proverbs 31:30, speaking of women, states, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”
For these reasons and more, true self-worth should be sought in God alone. Only certain people love us, God loves us all the time because his love is rooted in himself, not us. People are fickle when it comes to physical beauty. God loves our bodies when we are young, middle-age, and old, because we are made in his image. He may lead us to improve our bodies, to eat healthier, to lose some weight, but this is not so he will be able to love us more but because he already loves us so much.
God alone loves us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3), God alone loved us even when we were his enemies (Romans 5:8, 10), and God alone will give us the feeling of being loved always because only he has this forever-love to give since he alone is love in his very identity (1 John 4:8).
The Bible Says Posing Like You’re Perfect Is Sin/Bad. Is Your Motive in Posting Selfies to Portray Self-Perfection?
Selfies are so dangerous because they tempt us to portray ourselves in untrue ways. It’s so easy to capture a smiling face and yet live with a heavy heart. It’s too easy to take a selfie at the amusement park with your family to show the world how great a parent you are, and yet moments before you were just screaming at your kids.
Again, it’s not wrong to want to share a great moment with others. The problem occurs, however, when the motive to post selfies is to portray ourselves as better people than everyone else or to portray perfection. The Bible (1 John 1:8-10) says that anyone who pretends to be perfect is posing to their own determent:
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”
The Bible Says God Judges the Motives of the Heart. When It Comes to Your Selfies, Are Your Heart Motives Pleasing to God or Self?
God is not going to judge anyone for taking a picture of themselves, posting it on social media, and hoping others enjoy it. God is not going to judge us for wanting to present ourselves well. It’s not bad to take a picture of yourself so granny can turn on the computer and see how her grand-baby is or so you’re friends from another state can see how you are doing.
God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). The Bible, therefore, explains that selfies are good or bad depending on the motivation behind the selfie. May we be so filled with God’s Spirit that we can be honest about our intentions, repent where we need to repent, and sanctify every area of our life for the glory of God.