"Oh my anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain. Oh the agony of my heart! My heart pounds within me, I cannot keep silent…" Jeremiah 4:19

What Does the Bible Say About Narcissism?

Okay, we’re going to start this post with a sledgehammer scripture…THE most difficult passage for a Christian adult survivor of parental narcissistic abuse to figure out how to give an answer to…the scripture that WILL get thrown at you like a grenade.  Ready?  You most likely already know it…and cringe.

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.”  Exodus 20:12, NIV Version

Ka-blooey; you’re dead.

If you’re a Christian, you’ve already scrambled around your concordance trying to figure a way around that passage and most likely will even try to go back to the Hebrew to search out all the different meanings of the word “honor.”  Even if you’re NOT a Christian, somehow the CONCEPT gets thrown at you anyway by society at large.

Here’s the kind of stuff you’ll hear (or feel):  “We OWE our parents, ya know. They gave us LIFE and we are to honor them, to listen to their pearls of wisdom, to be grateful,  to take care of them in their old age, etc., etc.  

Doesn’t matter how they treated us; raising kids is hard and…(say it with me now)…THEY DID THE BEST THEY COULD WITH WHAT THEY HAD!!!!”

“You are an evil, ungrateful child if you don’t give them the respect and honor they deserve for all their hard work in raising you.  Besides, no matter what they did to you, the Bible says to honor them….”

Haven’t we all heard this stuff?  Goodness, it basically means that we’re going to go to hell for not wanting to hurt anymore, for choosing to stay away from our abusive parents…and that, dear ones, is a VERY hard pill to contemplate…let alone swallow!

Yeah, yeah, yeah…these lies are straight from the pit of HELL.  That is NOT what God meant when He said “honor your mother and father”…not when they’re abusive monsters who CHOOSE to blow past EVERY other scripture in the Bible about how THEY are supposed to raise, love, nurture and protect their children…AND also how THEY are supposed to act as human beings!

And how much worse for the adult Christian who came to the Lord AFTER leaving home, the one who has parents that are NOT saved and don’t even pay lip service to scriptures. Somehow, most Christians will tell you that YOU are still responsible for loving them…even for changing them.

(Never mind that WE can’t change anyone…we cannot even change ourselves by ‘our own power’ so how much more foolish is it for us to try to change anyone else?) Only through the working of the Holy Spirit can people truly change and that is hard enough as it is. How much harder for those who do NOT have the Holy Spirit?

There are other scriptures that get lobbed at spouses trying to deal with being married to a narcissist (or trying to get OUT of a sick, toxic marriage) and they are equally harmful such as “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also should wives submit to their husbands in everything.” (Ephesians 5:24)

Since statistics show that 75% of narcissists are men, the “wives submitting” one probably gets thrown out more often than all the others combined. Narcissistic husbands often look sooooo good on the outside, and since their abusive behavior is so often sooooo subtle — and usually behind closed doors — that wives feel trapped in a marriage to a monster…with the church most often standing on his side.

But for men who have narcissistic wives, they have a whole ‘nother set of scriptures thrown at them such as “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard.” (Matthew 19:8)  Gee, guess this means that if you are a husband who wants to divorce his abusive, narcissistic wife, you must have a hard heart.

There are lots of scriptures that talk about God hating divorce and yes, husbands are called to care for (and manage) their families well.  So Christian men with abusive wives will often stay silent, doing all he can to keep the family together and feeling shame that they are having problems.

And oh yes, let’s not forget that narcissistic wives will make sure he feels like ALL the problems are ALL his fault and the church will often back her up.  For example, he might get asked something fun such as:  “Well, are you loving her as Christ loved the church?” or “Perhaps if you would just pray for her more…”

The church is often an unwitting partner in abuse and all these well meaning people are wrong.  God does not honor abuse and all the platitudes and scriptures (taken out of context) do NOT help those being abused! Yes, we are to follow God’s word but we HAVE to look at the totality of the word and HIS intent.  To say God loves us…and then tell someone that the Bible says they have to stay be abused is insane.

I’ve heard remarks over the years that are not only ridiculous but incredibly hurtful as well such as:  “Well, you made your bed and now you have to lie in it.” Oh really?

So that young, beautiful daughter of yours is walking down the aisle toward your son in law…and in 3 months she shows up with a black eye, a bloodied lip and two cracked ribs. Do you tell her to go back because she chose to marry him, CHOSE her bed?  For her sake, I hope you wouldn’t.

Beside IT’S ONLY HER BED IF HE BEAT HER BEFORE THE MARRIAGE!!!

Otherwise, she didn’t know and so the bed the HUSBAND chose to make is NOT the bed she thought she was getting; it’s not “her bed”and she should NOT stay in it. (And if you ARE the kind of parent who tells her to return, YOU need help.)

I have another scripture that I’ll bring into play regarding God allowing a spouse to divorce the narcissist (and it makes a huge assumption that will most likely annoy some who read it.)  The assumption is this:  I believe narcissism is demonic and evil and so that means that the narcissistic spouse IS NOT A BELIEVER.

You cannot follow God and be subject to the Holy Spirit and REMAIN A NARCISSIST. It is behavior that flies in the face of EVERY scripture about how a Christian is to behave.  If someone is regularly behaving like a narcissist, they are unsaved.

And in that case, we have a scripture that tells us it is okay to divorce:  “But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so.  A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.”  (1 Corinthians 7:15)

God does NOT like narcissistic behavior, friends, not from our parents or our spouses. We are NOT wrong for leaving evil!

I am not saying God completely absolves us of honoring our parents because that flies in the face of scripture.  And most children of narcissists have been groomed so well that they are usually VERY obedient to their parents.  It’s only when we try, as adults, to back away from the sick, toxic, hurtful, CONSTANT and overwhelming games that the attacks begin in earnest, both from our families AND from well-meaning churchgoers who have no clue what it’s like to deal with evil, reprobate people who abuse others.  There is a list further down this page that tells us HOW to honor them even while staying out of their war zone of abuse.

I read this on Anna Valerious’ blog “Narcissists Suck” (a blog I consider a “must read” for all who have suffered at the hands of a narcissist!  (The link to the page on her blog that the following excerpt comes from can be found in my links section at right…I HIGHLY encourage any Christians struggling with narcissistic parents to read the entire post!)

“First, I can categorically state that there is no Biblical example of God honoring evil.  We have no Biblical example or statement of God requiring His people to honor evil.  We have scores of Biblical exhortations for God’s people to rebuke and shun evil.  If you are willing to acknowledge as truth these two realities then you will have to conclude that whatever God was telling us to do in the fifth commandment, He was NOT requiring us to honor evil.”

I read this on Soaring Dove’s blog “Freedom from Toxic People” and my eyes (and understanding) opened wide on the sentence that I’ve put in bold and italics:

“All of my life I have been tied/bound to a toxic/narcissistic/evil person who was formally known as mom. I have done what all the “experts” have recommended (even earned a degree in psychology) hoping that in some way the Momster and I could have a minimally functional relationship. I have tried everything humanly possible to break through her hardend cold heart, so that she would gain insight to how she hurts her children and destroys relationships, but nothing worked.

“Reprobates are beings who enjoying causing harm to others. Their attacks are Victim Specific, so they have both awareness and absolute control. They lack remorse because being evil feels good to them, thus they have no desire to change/repent.”  (Source:  Dealing With Toxic People)

Titus 1:15-16 King James Version (KJV)

“Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.  They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.”

When I read that, I felt some kind of weight lift off me.  It’s true, my mother’s behavior IS reprobate and has always been saved only for her children, behind closed doors and in secret.  She doesn’t treat other people the way she treats us…they would NEVER tolerate it so the narcissist is careful about showing their true colors in public.  THAT, folks, is self awareness. That points to an inner knowledge and an understanding of the wrong nature of their behavior!  THAT is reprobate behavior and GOD CONDEMNS IT!

The command to honor our parents has a promise “that you may live long in the land.” Family structure is the basis for society at large.  At the time, honoring parents meant listening to their teachings, which were based on the commandments of God and the entire society of early Israelites were all on the same page and operating under the same set of rules.

All around them were other societies that God considered evil (Sodom & Gomorrah come immediately to mind.) Societies who routinely sacrificed their own children in fire pits and the like.  God did NOT want His people mixing with those people and it was the priests, elders and parents’ job to make sure the people / their children were raised in the admonition and ways of the Lord to keep God’s laws and live pure and holy lives.

That has not changed, God still wants this for our time BUT society has changed a great deal.  It’s not like God isn’t aware of abusive parents and the damage they cause so could He REALLY have meant that we should honor our parents…no matter what?  Doesn’t make sense, does it?  Should a daughter who is molested by her father as a child…and he wants to continue the relationship into her adulthood…be expected to honor him?  Of course not!

But for some reason, Christians find it perfectly fine to condemn children of narcissists by telling them that somehow WE are responsible for helping our parents not be such abusive, evil people. WE are to forgive THEM.  We are to continue serving them.  We are to continue to “take it” and “turn the other cheek.” It’s insane advice to tell someone to stay under the evil control of reprobate people who do not have one shred of love in them…not for us and certainly not for God!

If you’ve been around a narcissist, whether parent or spouse, the scripture below is THE scripture that speaks of their behavior in a nutshell.  I’ve always looked at it from an “end times” viewpoint but a man named Peter (who commented on this blog) pointed out a different angle which is:  “have nothing to do with them.” He said he thought it pretty amazing that the apostle Paul said ‘stay away’ completely because that is so rare in scripture.  So here is the scripture:

2 Timothy 3:1-5 - “But mark this:  There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God — having a form of godliness but denying its power.  HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THEM.”

THEN, when viewing this passage in light of narcissists (rather than in the way I always have about end times) I read through the next verses and my eyes were opened:

2 Timothy 3:6-9 – “They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, [they are the kind] who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth…these men oppose the truth—men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, ARE REJECTED.  But they will not get very far because their folly will be clear to everyone.”

Wow, I’d never seen this before.  Obviously, the first verses describe narcissists in detail.  But I’ve never seen the scriptures that allow me to have nothing to do with them!  Then to read further that their “form of godliness” is utterly rejected floored me even more.

We are not only ALLOWED to walk away, God TELLS us to have NOTHING to do with them! This, for me, is a very comforting set of verses.  I’m allowed to not stay stuck in a relationship with a vile, evil person.  Thank you, Lord!  I think this verse speaks to spiritual abuse in the body of Christ as well, a subject that will be covered more in depth on a different page on this site (when I get the page up, I’ll link to it from here.)

I’m going to go one step further and talk about the devil (I heard that “ewwww” from those who are uncomfortable with the subjct) BUT the Bible clearly states that we wrestle not with flesh and blood but with principalities, with powers, with wickedness in high places.  We are fighting the devil inside our parents (or spouses) when we battle narcissistic abuse.  NO ONE who is given themselves fully to God can act abusive…it’s not possible to claim to BE a Christian and yet ACT like a devil.  The Holy Spirit would never honor that…and without the leading & guidance of the Holy Spirit, you cannot walk as a Christian on this earth.

The devil himself was the first narcissist and his work is shown in the behavior of narcissistic people every day…and the incredible damage they cause to their victims.  Take heed from the 2 Timothy scripture that says “have nothing to do with them.”  God has given you an example of narcissism and clearly states “STAY AWAY.”

This is your defense for the bombs and grenades that get lobbed at you from Christians.

The following is also from Soaring Dove’s blog “Freedom from Toxic People”
(Janet’s note:  I’m going to add spouses/friends/spiritual abusers/etc. to the list below.)

How do we honor abusive, evil, reprobate, toxic parents?

  • We honor them by not returning the abuse that they gave to us.
  • We honor them by not wanting to destroy their lives, but to improve it/change it/transform it through Christ.
  • We honor them by praying for their salvation and for their break though.
  • We honor them by stop trying to save them, or change them, that it is Christ’s job.
  • We honor them by letting go and letting God work a miracle.
  • We honor them by realizing that our enabling behavior & failure to give the ultimate consequence of no contact is getting in God’s way.
  • We honor them by not enabling them to continue their abuse with us or with others.
  • We honor them by insisting that they get the professional help that they need, before they have anymore contact with us & our family members.
  • We honor them by remaining in a No Contact status and not being tempted to break it “for the kids sake” during birthdays, holidays, or any other special occasion for this would send a mixed message & defeat the purpose of No Contact.
  • We honor them by giving them clear boundaries and consequences if they are not remorseful and repent/turn from/change/end their abusive behavior, OR we will have nothing to do with them.
  • We honor them by reversing the curse, in that we will not allow their abusive legacy to continue to our children.
  • We honor them by returning honor to the family’s reputation & creating an awesome legacy for future generations.

6 responses

  1. I soo needed 2 read this. It has ended a lot of confusion. I have a person in my life that has been abusive that I still love. This person was abused as a child. I have no contact, but I wish all the best for her in this life. I pray 2 God 2 save her from her misery

    October 27, 2011 at 4:29 PM

    • Hi Lise:

      Glad you were helped…before I read a few of the sources I quoted, I was in awash with guilt and feeling like a bad Christian for walking away from my mother. When I read what they had to say, and when I prayed and searched the Bible myself, God opened my eyes to the truth. The relief I felt was huge…beyond huge, actually. It’s hard to walk away from someone we love…even if they are unloving and cruel to us.

      Ironically enough, the longer I stay AWAY from my mother, the more sorrow I feel for her. I can’t say I love her but not because of bitterness or anger. She is a shell person, only external in everything she says and does. So WHO would I love? A facade? Her behavior (when she’s “being nice?”) Her accomplishments or decorating style?

      Those things don’t make a person…a person’s heart, mind and soul is what we love…and honestly, the woman hasn’t ever shown her heart (except in relation to GETTING praise for “acting” loving…) so as I type this, I realize I cannot love (or hate) a shell…an external person. Because that means loving what they DO and not who they ARE.

      Who my mother has chosen to be has always been about HER needs, HER accomplishments and everything she does is done for the sole purpose of getting praise for HER. I’ve only seen her cry once or twice in over 50 years because she simply doesn’t FEEL. So I don’t hate her or love her…I just know that her “idea of love” is toxic, hurtful and abusive and I can’t have that in my life anymore. And that makes me sad.

      I know she’s emotionally disturbed (which is different than mentally ill) and I know deep down inside she is desperately wounded and unhappy. But she has chosen to shut the door to that deep down place and will never look down that dark hole…and I KNOW she’s not a happy person.

      Even worse, I KNOW she doesn’t hear God (she’s admitted that to me many, many times) and that alone is a tragedy. She does not know His beauty, love, grace, mercy, forgiveness and joy.

      Her motto is “God helps those who help themselves.” She has no clue about how BIG a lie that is! If that were true, then Jesus did NOT have to die because humans could have just “helped themselves” get out of our own depravity. We couldn’t, God knew it and HE made the ultimate sacrifice of His only Son (and Jesus choose to die) precisely because we CANNOT help ourselves! This doesn’t mean we’re helpless…only that we cannot eradicate sin by our own power.

      I hope your friend gets help and I hope that she is only the victim of abuse and not a narcissist herself (because narcissists almost NEVER get the help they need…no matter how bad they hurt, or how alone they end up.) Instead, they stay blaming everyone else and never look at their own behavior or take responsibility for it.

      If your friend is not a narcissist then there is hope she’ll one day get the help she needs. Meanwhile, do what you’ve done…stay away and pray for her…and take care of you.

      Blessings,
      Janet

      October 29, 2011 at 2:23 AM

  2. So much of what you say resonates within me! The Spirit has recently led me to a study of these same Scriptures so I was very pleased to see I’m not the only one that has found these treasures. I was trained from birth to believe that mistreatment and emotional abuse were my lot in life. Unsurprisingly, I’ve been married to a textbook narcissist for going on 17 years. Lately, though, I’ve had the soft inner prompting that tells me that God isn’t too concerned about any of my relationships except the one I need to have with HIM. I’ve spent my whole life searching for love from people who haven’t got it to give, while evading the only One that knows me and loves me the way I long to be loved.

    November 12, 2011 at 12:08 PM

    • Dear Laurie:

      I am so blessed to read your words and even more so to know that God is gently guiding you to strength, safety and comfort. With Christ, all things really are possible and I know for a fact, in my deepest, deepest self (way below the wounded child…and way above too) that God IS love and loves US absolutely, lavishly and forever. When your heart breaks, He cries with you.

      A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church; to be a servant leader; to cherish and treasure her…too many times the “submit” gets thrown at us and there is no love in men like that. It’s sad that women get mistreated and some use Ephesians to blame US.

      God WILL guide you in the way you need to go and HE will always love and cherish you. Cherish yourself as well…YOU are the daughter of a KING!

      Hugs and blessings to you (and feel free to email me if you want to connect “offline”)

      Your sister in Christ,
      Janet

      November 13, 2011 at 1:22 AM

  3. I read this last night and was so overwhelmed with confirmation that I am doing the right thing by leaving my narcissistic husband. I had already felt peace with the decision, but this just gives it so much more foundation. I need to get this evil out of my life! Not only is my husband narcissistic but his 15 year old son that lived with us is too. I have had to live with their manipulation, lies, deceit, fake feelings and unremorseful self for 8 years. It has been so hard. I believed that they were good people and just needed help to learn how to do the right things. Now I know I was only their little pawn. It is embarrassing, super hurtful and humiliating to know this. I feel like the bottle that has been thrown away after all the drink is gone. Just discarded never to be thought about again. I have only really learned about narcissism in the last couple of weeks. I have been around narcissists all my life and never had a name for it. My mom (this I just realized last night after reading this), dad, brothers, and yes, a few ex’s. UNBELIEVABLE! The positive. Now I know. Now I know the red flags. Now I understand…sort of. Not sure you can really understand how someone can do such mean things and not feel remorse. I just don’t get that part, but like my couselor says “it is like something gets severed”. That was in response to my questions as to why they don’t feel remorse for what they do to others when they obviously feel all of those feelings when it is done to them. What selfish and mean people they are. A few days ago I had googled “how to beat a narcissist at their own game”, one of the top sites basically said the only answer is “get out of the game”. How true. How can you beat someone full of deceit and lies? You can’t! They don’t play fair. You are constantly blindsided.

    Janet, my mom died when I was 16. I had been in foster care since 14. She had melanoma and lived for 7 months after finding out. Not once did she contact me to tell me that she loved me, not once did she make time just for me knowing that she was leaving me, she didn’t write a letter, she didn’t give someone else the message to let me know that she loved me. All I get is my narcissistic dad saying “your mother loved you”…really? Then where are the actions? Wow, I am just now realizing all of this so you might image the pain that I am feeling. I understand your pain that you feel. As horrible as this sounds I think that I was spared some of that pain because my mother did die when I was so young. I was left with emptiness, not years and years of abuse to go with the emptiness like you. Your NC is healthy. You even said so yourself in the scriptures from Timothy. Thank you God for giving us the option to stay away!!! God is my life! And not in the twisted sort of way that my parents used “church” as I was growing up. It took me years to go back to church because of the way that they used christianity. About a year ago I started to a church and the Holy Spirit has slowly guided me through this, but in a powerful everlasting way. I pray every day now that I can be the woman that God wants me to be. The woman that GOD wants me to be. Not the one that all the narcissists in my life want me to be.

    Thank you Janet for taking the time to blog all of this. Please know that you have helped! You made me cry, you made me laugh (because we get sucked in so easy!!) and you made me realize that I need to put a stop to this in my life. NC baby!

    I am certain that there are people who have come across this website and not posted and that makes me think that you have probably reached more people than you realize. I nearly didn’t post (still haven’t clicked post yet) because I am afraid of who might see. But I am going to use this as my first step at really standing up for myself. I need to stop being afraid of their retaliation and start living my life. Wow, I just got a feeling of excitement!!!

    I want to thank God for using you to reach me and others like me. You are a BLESSING!!!!! Thank you!!!

    Ok, I’m having a hard time hitting post comment!! I’m so scared! I keep putting the mouse there and can’t do it!! Ok, here it goes… going to try again!

    February 21, 2012 at 8:57 AM

    • Hey Michele:

      You made ME laugh as I visualized you trying to hit the “post” button, thanks for the smile! Been there myself…it is hard to go “public” (we’ve been raised to keep secrets, after all) but each step toward freedom is like a huge, deep breath of clean air. Clean air at high elevations can be quite dizzying though…exhilarating but dizzying.

      Ironically enough, I think Christianity draws narcissists because false “martyrdom” and “good works” and MOST important, “LOOKING good” on the outside (regardless of the twisted mess inside…I just got the visual of those movies where perfectly normal looking people suddenly have a flash of a demon roll across their face) seem to be specialties of narcissists. And having the ONE, TRUE RELIGION probably makes them feel quite special and powerful! But the love of God is so different than the love of humans and being a follower of Christ is different than “being” a Christian. Going to church doesn’t make one a Christian any more than sitting in a garage makes you a car. LIVING like He lived, LOVING like He loved, being willing to put God first even when it’s hard…these are things surface Christians don’t often do (and certainly narcissists NEVER do.)

      I can sever relationships too these days…and do…when I realize I’m dealing with a narcissist. I just cannot let them “get” to me, get inside my life, my head or my heart because they are so destructive. My radar works pretty good most times but a clue for me is that I start shaking when they start doing or saying weird stuff. I get “feelings” in the pit of my stomach but the shaking is a clue for me. Narc alert…narc alert…danger, Will Robinson, danger!

      Thank you for the kudos about being a blessing…it is my firm belief that God wants victims of ALL types set free. Recognizing patterns, dumping old baggage (learning to recognize what is MY baggage and what is THEIR baggage was a big step for me. I no longer have to “own” their words, ideas, beliefs, put downs, etc. inside myself.) I can dump those as fast as I sever unhealthy relationships anymore. I can say “not mine” (for the junk in my head) and “not ever again” (for relating with lunatics who want to suck outta me for narcissistic supply.)

      Jesus WILL heal us and WILL set us free…ask, receive and stay close to Him, talk often, listen and pray…you’ll be amazed.

      I’m sorry your mom never said good-bye…I don’t have this on the blog (I don’t “think” so anyway) but my mother disappeared out of my life when I was twelve and I had zero word from her for a year. She just dumped me on the father I didn’t know (and had been raised to fear and hate) and went on her merry way…divorcing hubby number 2 and roping in hubby number 3. I do understand abandonment in formative teen years and it’s hard on girls not to have their moms around to help them figure out the whole woman thing (but like you said, maybe it’s good…at least you didn’t get trashed throughout the rest of your teens like so many narc moms trash their girls.)

      Abandonment is an issue we can find ourselves facing as adults and this can keep us in bad situations longer (or cause us to shove good people away because we’re afraid they’ll eventually hurt and leave us too.) Facts? People WILL hurt us, let us down, leave and do painful things. It’s a part of life. Better FACT? GOD never will. When we look to God for our truth, our emotions (how to live by truth and not feelings and fears) and our need for unconditional love, we let others off the hook (since no human can give that), we don’t set ourselves up in “unrealistic expectation land” and we don’t get nearly as upset and devastated when human beings do stupid human stuff!

      There are various stages to this journey so let the roller coaster begin and hang on tight to the Holy Spirit…He WILL see you through! Blessings, friend, contact again and here’s an email should you want to not dump publicly jbyers@shoptostoptrafficking.com. Hugs!

      February 21, 2012 at 5:20 PM

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