Welcome to Religious Narcia–Enter at Your Own Risk
Allie doesn’t seem vain. She doesn’t wear makeup or jewelry and rarely dresses up. She never posts selfies on social media, but she does post Bible verses. She has an arsenal of Christian memes to pull out for any occasion. She also likes to spread her version of the gospel by posting on her friends’ walls whenever she feels someone is wrong about God. Allie is a right talker who believes it’s her religious duty to set others straight. It’s not surprising to discover Allie is often unfriended, but it doesn’t bother her because she believes she is speaking for God and will get her reward in heaven.
Noah’s been a leader since he was in kindergarten. Everyone takes it for granted he’ll be a pastor like his father. He freely gives advice to his friends including telling them when they should break up with their dating partners or avoid certain concerts and movies. Noah seemed like the prefect catch until the girl he was dating decided to break up with him. Noah got angry and began to talk about her to everyone they knew. He inferred she was a tramp who wanted more from him than he as a Christian gentleman could give her before marriage. This wasn’t true at all, but people believed Noah because he came from a good Christian family and he was such a faithful church member. In this way, Noah discouraged other guys from dating his ex because he had ruined her reputation. Noah figured if he couldn’t have her, no one else would either.
Katrina is a mother who cautions her daughter to speak in a soft voice at all times. When her daughter is beaten by her father, Katrina does nothing about it. When her husband sends the children to bed without supper, she is silent. As her children are growing older and leaving home one by one, they realize their mother will never allow them to discuss the abuse in their home without an admonition from her to forgive and forget. Her children believe their father is the problem, but he’s not the only one. The truth is Katrina is a covert narcissist. The signs have been there all along. She shames her children in such a nice manner no one realizes she is acting like a narcissist. She has never apologized to her children for anything she has done because she maintains the persona of a perfect mother who only speaks in a kind voice. Her shame is so deep she continually dishes it out to her children and plays the martyr to make herself feel better about herself.
Paul is an elder in the church who is only happy if he is in control. He didn’t like the last pastor, so he campaigned to get him ousted and replaced. It took almost a year to replace the pastor and during that time Paul was in control. He took the liberty of telling people who had problems in their life to keep it to themselves and not take part in church until they got their lives in control. If anyone disagreed with Paul, they would ostracized because he would not tolerate different opinions. People either submitted or left. When the new pastor finally arrived, he had no option but to work with Paul because Paul was the one holding all the power in the church.
You might recognize some of these people. Welcome to Religious Narcia—a not so fictional place where people are abused in the name of God. Religious narcissism is similar to regular narcissism, only it’s dressed up in snarky, spiritual clothes. Many people have left the church, believing it’s God and Christians who are hateful–not realizing they are victims of religious narcissism.
Not all narcissists stare into the mirror all day, some stare into the Bible looking for proof texts to correct other people. In Religious Narcia, relationships are pushed aside to prove a point because everything is a contest for the narcissist. Narcissistic minds are not interested in building relationships unless those connections meet their agenda. The narcissist manipulates to gain money or allies, because he gets a buzz from controlling people, while he creates a toxic environment for those around him.
Many people reject their parents’ religion and for a good reason–people raised by a narcissistic parent often struggle with going to church or praying because their parent abused them and they imagine God is the same.
Mary has suffered all forms of abuse at the hands of her father and she often asks through her tears, “What kind of fucked up god is this?” She sees God as a reflection of the parent who told them about him, but that is not God, the God I know looks, acts and treats people just like Jesus.
- Narcissists lack empathy
- Narcissists use everyone—including the apathetic
- Narcissists manipulate
- Narcissists don’t get mad, they get even
- Narcissists discard you when you no longer meet their needs
In just about everything they do, Narcissists break the golden rule:
Jesus says, “Do unto others as you would like them to do to you.”
On an episode of The People’s Court a woman sued her wealthy mother for borrowing from her and not paying her back for several years. The heart of the matter was not really money at all–it was about the lack of parental love. The narcissistic mother would not forgive her daughter for not having her children baptized into her church. As a result, she refused to have a relationship with her daughter and granddaughters. The daughter got her money back, but still no relationship.
At the exit interview, the reporter asked the mother if she wanted to have a relationship with her daughter. As the daughter anxiously waited to hear her mother’s reply. The mother shrugged her shoulders and said, “Well maybe someday.”
This mother with all her religiosity was misrepresenting God. Here is what God says to his children:
I have loved you with an everlasting love–
therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you
and I will continue My faithfulness to you.
Just as C.S. Lewis’s Narnia is frozen over from the spell of the white witch, the Religious Narcia landscape is iced over with self. Narcia is a place where the survival of the fittest mindset takes over and people abuse other people in an attempt to take care of their own needs. The only hope to escape such a situation is to be aware of the battle around us and trust Jesus to guard our hearts.