One of the popular sayings in today’s world is that one needs to be “true to himself.” What this means, no one truly knows. In fact, I have never heard of a positive definition of it, only negative ones. Sometimes its seems to mean that if we do something that we feel guilty about, we weren’t true to ourselves. Sometimes it simply means that if we are struggling with something, like alcoholism or drug addiction, marital problems,… that we are not being true to ourselves and that that is the cause of our troubles, and if we were true to ourselves, then this would have prevented or will fix the problems.
This seems fine and dandy to some degree. It may mean not lying, not being self-deceptive, accepting our faults and mistakes, etc. But there are a huge problems with it even within secular society, and even more in Christian culture. In a secular worldview, while one may accept their faults, being true to ourselves means merely accepting them at times, and may discourage us from trying to improve upon them. From this, angry people stay angry, selfish people stay selfish, etc. And not only that, but they justify their behavior by saying that it is just the way they are, implying that they have to be that way if they are to be “true to themselves.” So it can give people reasons to not improve themselves and be better people, and may even increase some faults as they become more “true to themselves.”
On a Christian worldview, this becomes an even bigger issue. That is because true human nature is sinful, and we should certainly not be “true to sin.” Paul calls us to crucify ourselves and be alive in Christ, no longer living for ourselves but living for Christ, not only this, but that Christ live in us(Galatians 2). He also says that we should be dead to sin and alive in Christ(Romans 6). So the message here seems to be saying that we should not be true to ourselves at all, but rather, allow Christ to live in us, that is, be true to Christ. This seems very contrary to the message that society is giving us, so when Christians adopt it, they are making very dangerous assertions that can be extremely harmful to themselves and other Christians. We end up with a similar result as the secular world, where people justify sin/bad behavior by saying its who we are, whereas for a Christian, that is the whole point! We are bad people by our nature and need to get out of it!
There is a song out there by MercyMe that says it quite well:
Well if I come across a little bit distant
It’s just because I am
Things just seem to feel a little bit different
Believe it or not but life is not apparently
About me anyways
But I have met the One who really is worthy
So let me say
So long, self
Well, it’s been fun, but I have found somebody else
So long, self
There’s just no room for two
So you are gonna have to move
So long, self
Don’t take this wrong but you are wrong for me, farewell
Oh well, goodbye, don’t cry
So long, self
Stop right there because I know what you’re thinking
But no we can’t be friends
And even though I know your heart is breaking
This has to end
And come to think of it the blame for all of this
Simply falls on me
For wanting something more in life than all of this
Can’t you see
It is only when we recognize that this self needs to be gotten rid of and that we should not associate with it at all that we become Christlike and Godly, and our relationship with The One, God, grows by leaps and bounds when we do so. But if we cling to any part of ourselves, God cannot do all that He wants with you. And when we are “true to ourselves,” this leaves no room for God at all and we live in sin and separation from God.
So Christians, please discard this idea entirely from your life and beliefs. For everybody else, you too. While you may not believe in God, surely improvement should be preferred to stagnation, and justification of bad behavior should be frowned upon, that is exactly what we get when following this doctrine to its core. Yourself is not a “higher power,” so don’t act like it. You can’t submit to yourself, for submitting to yourself is the same thing as living for yourself and requires nothing different than if you did not think in such a manner but just lived according to your whims.
Rather than being true to ourselves, let us be truthful to ourselves, and recognize that this is a stupid idea and that it is a terrible way to live and that this world would be even worse if we all lived in such a manner.