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Is it sinful to take/post selfies?

To post a selfie or to not...that is the question. Does it seem like anytime you're with your friends, someone says, “Let’s take a selfie”? We've all posted pictures of ourselves some point, but is this a sinful habit? Obviously, when the Bible was written, camera phones and social media did not exist. Moses didn’t take a selfie as he led the Israelites through the Red Sea and post #TrustingGod. (But wow, wouldn't that have been cool?) While selfies and social media aren’t mentioned in God’s Word, we can still take biblical principles and apply them to today's cultural issues.

First things first: taking a selfie is not inherently sinful. There's nothing wrong with capturing a picture of yourself or you and your friends. Cameras and social media are just tools we can use, but as with all tools, they can be misused.

Check yourself before you wreck yourself.

Take a look at your feed. Are you primarily posting images of your face? Examine the photos on your phone. Are there dozens of shots of you, trying to get the "perfect" one? Are you obsessing over filters to give you the "best" look? Do you make sure to edit out blemishes and/or filter your way into a new reality of yourself to post? Do you constantly check how many likes, hearts, or positive comments you're getting? If so, you may be moving into an unhealthy obsession with yourself.

All these actions are deeply rooted in selfishness, pride, and an unhealthy need for approval from others. The obsession with taking and posting selfies to get attention (e.g. likes, comments, followers) can actually do the opposite of what you'd assume. Rather than giving you a healthy sense of self-worth, obsession with self actually breaks down your sense of self-worth and can cause insecurities about who God created you to be. We should never base our value or self-worth on others' response to us because our worth comes from our identity in Christ alone.

What did Jesus teach about self-obsession?

The world of social media measures success by the number of followers and likes we can get, but Jesus' definition of success is quite different. He called John the Baptist "the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven" (Luke 7:38). As a reminder, this "greatest in Heaven" guy wore clothes of stinky camel’s hair, and didn’t he eat bugs at some point? (Yes. Yes, he did. See Matthew 3:4.) Not a particularly good "image" for the public, right? And yet, Jesus saw what really mattered. John did not seek glory for himself, but glory for God (John 3:30). John was God-centered rather than self-centered. See how what Jesus values is internal not external?

Jesus also tells us that we cannot love anybody (including ourselves) more than God for this would become an idol. He said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple," and "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Luke 14:26; Matthew 16:24-25).

That sounds harsh, but His point is that we can't honor God when we're self-absorbed or focused only on that which benefits us. We cannot effectively serve Christ if we're always consumed in our own affairs. We shouldn't follow self-seeking desires because we're to live for God. When we're obsessed with taking and posting selfies, it is sure difficult to actively glorify God.

Doesn’t God want the best for me?

It's easy to find Christian speakers who preach a God who makes all our dreams come true. And while God does want the best, healthiest, and most god-glorifying life for us, that does not mean all our "wildest dreams" are what's best for us. God is not a magical genie who obeys our every whim or desire so we can "live our best lives."

"Prosperity preachers" will say that God wants you to have everything, but that's not true. God knows that a lot of what we want isn't good for us. God knows the plans He has for us, and those plans are good (Jeremiah 29:11). He is our Father, and He knows what's healthy for us and what will cause us harm.

You know how a mom might tell her kid he can have a few cookies but not the whole package—even if that's what he really wants? She knows he'll feel sick or won't be hungry for the nutritious dinner that's coming. It’s the same with God. God answers our prayers in accordance with His will—not according to our wildest dreams and desires (1 John 5:14).

Living in a Selfie World

Our world is sinful, so it’s not surprising that many are obsessed with taking selfies and propping up themselves. As Christians, we can choose to deny that self-obsessive mentality and post things with a Christ-centered mentality. After we become believers, we have the Holy Spirit to help us make godly decisions and resist sinful desires. Galatians 5:4 says, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” We must live in this truth because our lives are meant to serve Christ—not our own egos (Galatians 2:20).

The world promotes the narcissistic love and betterment of self over the genuine love and betterment of others. While self-obsession may feel like it's filling the hole of loneliness, it will only make it deeper and harder to fill. In the end, self-obsession leads only to true loneliness and low self-esteem. No number of Instagram hearts or views on TikTok will grant lasting happiness but following Jesus will develop a true joy that lasts forever.

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TL;DR

Taking and posting selfies on social media is not inherently sinful, but it can lead to self-obsession, which is a sin. Narcissistic self-centeredness hurts our relationship with God and others. Jesus says we are to deny ourselves and follow Him (Matthew 16:25). Believers have crucified the sinful nature and now live for God (Galatians 2:20; 5:4). It's OK to take and post selfies but make sure to reflect Christ in what you post. Do regular self-checks to ensure that you're not becoming self-centered or seeking approval from others.

By: Vivian Bricker

Vivian loves learning, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She is dedicated to helping people learn more about Jesus and is ready to help in any way she can. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, cooking, drawing, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, you can find her soaking up the sunshine or going on an adventure.

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