11 thoughts on “Narcissism in the Church

  • January 13, 2017 at 2:18 am

    This is spot on. It took God Himself to open up my eyes to the narcissistic abuse I was in in my marriage because growing up with narc parents normalized the abuse. The church didn’t help. When I told the pastor I was leaving my then husband die to the abuse he said he’d call and talk to him. He didn’t and after I left my ex narc spread so many lies about me I don’t dare ever step foot into that church again. My ex even lied and told the pastor I left him for another man and he punched this imaginary man and the pastor condoned it. I gave five years of my life to that church, helped lead worship every Sunday, went to bible study every Wednesday, taught youth group, and it meant nothing. They just believed all the lies without even questioning it. Church has done me more harm than good but God never left my side, not for a moment and believe me there is a difference between the two!

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  • January 13, 2017 at 7:19 am

    The Bible says in the last days the people in the church will be lovers of themselves – the very definition of narcissism.

    I love my church, which is, thankfully, nothing like the churches you described in the article, although I recognise the caricature all too well and have had the misfortune to attend services in such places over the years.

    I’m very glad the wonderful C.S. Lewis has kept your faith alive. Mustard seeds and mountains and all that.

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  • January 14, 2017 at 10:20 pm

    A couple of years ago I realized that I don’t believe anything Christians are supposed to believe. I have been reading as much as I can on narcissism. However I didn’t even know what until the last year or so when I began seeking answers to emotional pain.

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  • January 15, 2017 at 6:59 pm

    I would like for the writer to visit the church that I attend and am a member of. It is nothing like that which he speaks of. We are NOT narcissistic. We know we are all sinners but that we have the grace of God and that because Christ died for us and we believe that, then we can get into heaven. We do not get there by our works. Our pastor is a very God-loving man and he loves his congregation. If you are a shut-in, in the hospital, have lost a loved one, etc. then he is there for you with his presence and his prayers. Our church helps out the needy whether a church member or not. I think the writer should try to find another church, one that is spirit-filled and whose members support eachother.

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    • July 2, 2017 at 6:27 pm

      Lenora, thanks for giving voice to those of us who were verbally and emotionally abused in the name of God. Unfortunately, too many of us have been hurt by narcissism in the pulpit, from those who call themselves our brothers and sisters.

      For me, the worst abuse and subsequent gaslighting came from one who professed to be a man of God. It took me many years to realize and understand that his cruel, heartless behavior reeked of narcissism. Among the most egregious examples:

      * Demanding unquestioned submission from his family and his staff. He would preach sermons on this, and he told me that, instead of “arguing” with him, I should have told him I’d do whatever he wanted me to do. (I was on staff, and he told me, “The only response I ever want to hear from you is, ‘Yes, Sir.'”)
      * Personally attacking me in private, but acting solicitous when he had a witness who wasn’t under his control (my dad). Later told me that I “just took it wrong” and that he had “just pointed out problems.”
      * When I begged him to listen and give me a chance to be heard, he told me “it’s not my job to listen to you; it’s your job to listen to me.”
      * Referring to adult women as “girls,” and treating women as intellectually inferior to men.
      * Soliciting his relatives to pressure me to return to that churchafter being told directly I wouldn’t be back because “you need to be in church and submit to your pastor.” Also had a relative tell me that God wouldn’t bless me until I stopped holding a grudge against someone who was just trying to help. (“He doesn’t understand why you won’t come back and talk to him about working under him again. He’s not mad at you. He just wishes you’d have more of a servant’s heart.”)
      * After being asked to offer comfort and support to my mother in the hospital, used that meeting as yet another opportunity to tell her how childish and prideful I was for telling him I needed him to listen.
      * Refusing to acknowledge that he could be mistaken, instead accusing others of “rebelling against their God-given authority” or “trying to change [him].”
      * Deliberately twisting others’ words to continue browbeating them as to why he was right and they were wrong.

      Not all “men of God” are like that, but too many, especially independent fundamental Baptists, are. I know. I grew up being verbally and emotionally abused by church leaders, Christian school teachers, and my parents (who were happy to take in anything having to do with how children should treat their parents). I have been told too many times by “brothers and sisters in Christ” that my feelings and opinions don’t matter, my diagnosed depression is the result of unconfessed sin in my life, God hates me because I’m introverted, I have no right to question authority, and that nothing I say or do can ever be enough to please God or “the authority he placed over me.”

      I’ve simply had enough. I won’t ever be bullied in the name of God again.

      I left church when I was 23. I’m 45 now, and I can remember all these things as if they occurred yesterday. Even now, I’m trying to unlearn all the things that were drilled into me, and stop hating myself for not meeting some arbitrary standard of “a worthwhile human being.”

      I’d reach out and hug you if I could, Lenora. There are many of us who have been where you are.

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  • January 27, 2017 at 6:02 pm

    I am a Christian but not much of a church-goer myself, mainly because my family of origin wasn’t religious, or church-goers. I have attended church over the years but come to similar conclusions you mention in this post. It doesn’t feel comfortable and welcoming to me.
    I love that you brought up C.S. Lewis. The Screwtape Letters is one of my all time favorites! I have all the books you mentioned, including the tapes sessions of the 4 Loves broadcast. I have learned so much about faith and real spirituality from his books. Plus, he is a fantastic writer.
    I just found your blog today. Love your writing too!

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  • February 19, 2017 at 6:44 am

    Wow, that’s quite a scenario you’ve painted. TBH I’m a second generation minister. I grew up with both my parents being pastor and I can’t identify with anything in that scenario. I grew up seeing my home be open to anyone who needed a place to stay, our cupboards were raided to feed people who lacked, my parents spent more time counselling, teaching and praying with people that my sister and I would n’t see them all day and part of the night, only for the same people who they had invested their time energy love and substance into turn around and lie about them. $2 Million a year????? In what life? We didn’t wear expensive clothes, drive new cars or any of the things you talk about. And yes I said I’m a pastor too and not much has changed. My parents commitment is my commitment. However, I have always known church to be a place of love, of healing, of forgiveness, of true heartfelt worship. I pray you find that experience, a real place of worship because it’s also been my experience that you need the helping hand of those around you to thrive in this life.

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  • February 19, 2018 at 5:48 pm

    You are spot on about sanctuaries becoming theaters. Church is big business now. Big entertainment. It’s true I know some ” worship team ” Christians. They love the limelight. Live like the devil the rest of the week. CCM has no appeal to my spirit or my flesh. If I wanted to listen to rock i’ll listen to Bon Jovi.. this Christian rock is ridiculous. What’s next Christian pornography? I too,have left the institutionalized church & i have never felt so free. What bondage I was in trying to please the pastor, make sure my skirt was stylish but just the right length. Oh & dark lipstick forget about it. It’s 2 extremes. The pharisee or the worldly hypocrite. Both are wolves in sheep clothing. I’ll just take Jesus, He’s enough for me. Im so thankful He turned the lights on. Men are men. Nothing we do impresses God who spoke the world into existence. May I live worthy of His name, & remember it will ALL be dealt with at the Judgement Seat. Jesus died for me & paid for my sins.. not a local church!!

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    • February 19, 2018 at 5:58 pm

      Loved every word you said! Thank you for your comment, especially about church being “big business.”

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  • June 16, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    The church you described is run by narcissists. I have experienced it. …. But not all churches are like that. It depends on the leadership. There is the true church also. The true church is worth looking for.

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  • June 24, 2018 at 2:53 am

    Great description of the performance of church.

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