What Does The Bible Say About Narcissistic Behavior? Part One
** This article was written by The Roadshow for Therapists: Working with Narcissistic Victim Abuse
People Will Be Lovers of Themselves
Narcissism is addressed in the Bible in Paul’s second pastoral epistle to Timothy (2 Timothy 3:1-7) in the fall of A.D.67. Paul seems to be concerned about the character and behavior of leaders within the church, so he warns Timothy to beware of those who act out of a “self-love attitude”. He says, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away.” Here Paul names many of the attributes associated (in psychology) today with the narcissistic personality we are all becoming so familiar with.
Contrasting the Bible with Psychology:
Let us take a few moments to contrast and compare what St. Paul says to Timothy two thousand years ago with today’s psychological understanding of what narcissism is:-
St. Paul says: Slanderers
Psychology says: Narcissists build an inner shrine to themselves where they self-aggrandize to an extraordinary degree so that they can feel intrinsically superior to all others. Of course, their highly inflated view of themselves is an illusory false-self (a pathological ego) that becomes the basis for all future misinterpretations of their reality. Their feelings of being superior in every way to everybody, becomes the source of much pain and envy for them whenever they feel outshined by anyone.
Pathological envy and jealousy is an integral part of narcissism (envy is a desire for what another person has, while jealousy is the fear that what something can be taken away). Narcissists are envious of anything in others that they lack in themselves (i.e. beauty, possessions, knowledge, personal qualities, power, skills, achievements, qualifications, relationships, money etc. Their envy consumes them, and the list of their covetousness (“I want, I want”) is endless. Envy is a normal human feeling which can range from mild to severe, from healthy to unhealthy, from positive to negative. For example, “healthy envy” has positive qualities. Healthy envy acts as a valuable guide for your heart, leading you in the direction of what your soul requires, so in effect, the thing you desire acts as a mirror for personal growth. For example, if you envy the knowledge of your tutor in college, perhaps there is a part of your soul that yearns to become a teacher, or to be in a position where you can impart knowledge. Healthy envy is empowering because it brings you nearer to your life’s goal. Whereas, unhealthy envy is disempowering because it keeps you bound to a fantasy, making you blind to your own true nature. Because the narcissist acts out of a False Self, they suffer from a twisted heart, leaving them at the mercy of their “unhealthy envy”, and envy that can trigger their feelings of vulnerability, shame and self-loathing at any moment. Any of these feelings can result in narcissistic injury, to which the narcissist invariably reacts to with rage. In order to rid themselves of such emotional turmoil and recover their equilibrium, the narcissist projects those intolerable feelings outward onto the person of their envy. Once you become the object of the narcissists envy you are in serious trouble. In order to improve their own self-image they are likely to do a character assassination on you. This is not innocent gossip, rather it is an intentional and premeditated smear campaign of “projection and smearing” that is aimed at maligning you in order to tarnish your reputation and make them feel better about themselves. Be warned, they are cold, ruthless, and self-serving, and by the way, they take no prisoners.
Look for the next article where we’ll contrast The Bible with Psychology on Narcissists being disobedient to their parents.
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