I am truly weary of the secular humanist "self-help" stripe of literature that discusses eating disorders in somber, condescending tones akin to the panic over the H1N1 virus outbreak. According to contemporary "wisdom" of self-proclaimed "experts" in the field, low self esteem (not thinking highly enough of oneself) is at the root of bulimia, and the poor victims of this terrible "disease" need to learn to accept and like themselves more if ever they are to "recover".
That's a load of baloney, plain and simple.
The problem is, as I've written before, we who have been down the road of disordered eating think too much of ourselves. It is pride that drives one to long for attention, not necessarily the negative attention that results from the addiction itself - but more likely, admiring glances for being the thinnest. Ah yes; seeking the approval of man (or other women) is a sure snare of pride.
Let me say it a little louder this time: EATING DISORDERS ARE NOT CAUSED BY "LOW SELF-ESTEEM". They are caused by a multitude of sinful attitudes which become a meditation and cause weight and food to become idols of the heart. When our minds are not set on things above (Gods priorities), we are rebelling in one way or another. Bulimic behavior (gluttony), or any other self-destructive activity, is in fact rebellion against God (in Whose image we were made).
Fixation on oneself (for whatever reason) is not healthy, nor is a sign of "low self-esteem". The Word of God commands us, "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others." (Phil. 2:3-4; emphasis mine).
Nothing in there about self-esteem; only a command to put others and their needs first.
Some have tried to claim that Jesus' command to love others "as you do yourselves" in Matthew 22:39 tells us to love ourselves, but in doing so they miss the whole point of the passage. Jesus is presupposing that we already, by nature and instinct, have a self-centered worldview and are less concerned with others than we are ourselves; God's Law of love demands just the opposite. This is emphasized again by Paul in Romans 12:10: "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves," and his prophetic statement to Timothy about the last days: "People will be lovers of themselves" (2 Timothy 3:2).
God loves us, and in turn expects our full devotion - first to Himself, then to other people. All of our needs have been met by Him in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). "Self-esteem", or holding a high opinion of oneself, is a trap of the devil that can actually keep us more deeply enslaved to our flesh-pleasing sin (including addiction). Only by recognizing our true, helpless and sinful state can we ever hope to be free. This realization is what drives us to our knees to fall on the mercy of the Savior.
All sin is, in one way or another, rooted in pride. Seeking to be our own master, to live as pleases us, to take refuge in some illicit pleasure - all are ways we put ourselves and our own desires before God. Whether the battle is with an eating disorder or some other stronghold of sin in our lives, what we need is a higher view of God and thus more "Christ esteem", certainly not more "self esteem".
Esteeming ourselves more highly than we ought is what got us into this mess in the first place! (Romans 12:3; Psalm 107:17).