Friday, February 22, 2008

"From Such Turn Away"

"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!" 2 Tim. 3:1-5 NKJV

This is a familiar passage to Christians. I know I've read it unnumbered times. It was the last sentence that jumped out at me this last time. More on that in a moment.

This counsel of Paul to the young pastor Timothy, whom Paul thinks of affectionately as a son, is specifically referring to our day..."in the last days perilous times will come..." Paul makes a rather long list of quite reprehensible behaviors that will be seen, not just at large, but in professed Christians--"having a form of godliness but denying its power."

Re-read Paul's list above. Take note of his first descriptor, "men will be lovers of themselves." Other versions say "people" instead of "men". (Men is often a global term for humanity in the Bible). The defining characteristic of malignant narcissists is their all-consuming self-love. Don't fall for the psycho-babble clap-trap that tells us they really hate themselves and that's why they're such wretched people. Their self-interest is total. Whether or not they have feelings of love for themselves is not the issue. Their behaviors are of absolute self-interest. That is the biblical view of self-love. Doing everything with an eye to "what's in it for me". Putting yourself first every single time. Ignoring the needs of others, ignoring morality, ignoring the law (God's and man's), "what I want is what I will get". That is the level of selfishness the malignant narcissist displays every day of their sordid lives. Paul is describing a person who is completely given over to gratifying their every whim, desire, lust, urge in this term "lovers of themselves".

Just like the "wicked man" passage in Proverbs six, this list of behaviors in Timothy is not a list of discrete individuals. In other words, it isn't necessarily describing one separate behavior per separate person i.e. this person is a "lover of themselves", that person is without self-control, that other person is a slanderer, etc. Someone who is given over to evil doesn't have just one objectionable characteristic. Bad characteristics breed; they run in packs. One thing leads to another. It is likely Paul is describing the global characteristics of evil individuals. The reason I think that is because when I look at the list above I can see all of these characteristics displayed in each of the narcissists I know. I think you can too. Look at those characteristics and ask yourself how different your malignant narcissist is from the description of all those behaviors. I daresay there is no difference at all. If you asked for a list of the more grotesque behaviors of a malignant narcissist this passage would work very well.

When we read the list of sinful behaviors in this passage the temptation is to think that this person or persons would be overtly evil in their presentation and easily recognizable to the average observer. This is not the case. First of all, these people must be able to disguise themselves well enough that Paul is compelled to warn Timothy of them. Timothy is well-versed in the Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:14-15) and wise beyond his years, yet Paul doesn't dismiss the possibility that one of these people could slip past Timothy's radar. These reprobates have a veneer of religiosity, an appearance of being godly or moral. So we have to conclude that there are people in the church who are practicing malignant narcissists in their daily lives yet are able to look like a good church person to the undiscerning observer. Some of us know these people personally. Some of our parents are these people. Some of us know that the most vile of persons can often pass for being godly. Paul knew these people too.

By the way, this doesn't condemn religion. Evil must disguise itself in order to stalk it's prey...religion shouldn't be faulted for being used by those seeking cover for their nefarious deeds. If you will fault religion then, to be consistent, you must fault many other worthy institutions of service and human welfare. The helping professions (teachers, doctors, social workers, etc.) are all ready disguises for the evil person who wants to present himself as harmless and trustworthy. The simple reality is that a person will cloak themselves with their opposite. If they are a pedophile, they may become a Scout leader, a teacher or a priest. Or a clown for kids' parties. It gives them close access to their preferred prey and the advantage of the trust and authority these positions offer. A woman who gets her kicks controlling and abusing children may become a foster care parent. Examples are legion. Because most religious people are decent, religion is another place evil can hide itself. So don't think that all religion is bad because some wolves use it to hide in and then savage the sheep. That would be simplistic and irrational thinking.

One reason I believe that Paul is essentially describing what we would call a malignant narcissist is due to his instruction on dealing with them. You and I know that malignant narcissists are unreformed and unreformable. They crossed a line someone in their dark past beyond which there is likely never a chance they will go back. Malignant narcissists fully justify and excuse all of their evil behaviors. They have turned their unrighteousness into righteousness in their own eyes. They call evil good and good evil. This is a sin there is little chance of coming back from. The reason is obvious when you think it through. The Bible makes it clear that people are convicted of sin because of the work of God's Spirit, John 16:7-8 for instance. If you come to the point where you start calling good evil then what are you going to do when the Spirit tries to convict you of sin? You will call His work "evil". When you discern the working of God's Spirit as being the whispering of evil...you will reject any chance you had that the Spirit can turn you from your ways. Constantly and persistently rejecting the moving of the Spirit on your heart will convince the Spirit to leave you alone. He is left with no way to reach you. That equates to being unredeemable. It is the unpardonable sin. When you have twisted your sensibilities to the point where you call light darkness then you will discern the light of God shining on your heart as an evil impulse. You leave even God with no way to reach you at that point. The only sin that can't be forgiven is the one you won't confess to.

Back to Paul's instruction concerning the churchified narcissist:

"...from such people turn away!"

Obviously, Paul doesn't want us to hold out that we can convince such people to turn away from their wickedness. It isn't our job to reform them. It isn't our job to hang around while holding out hope for their reform. It isn't our job to stay in close proximity to them as if our love can somehow separate them from their wicked ways. Paul is unequivocal and crystalline clear. "From such turn away!" (KJV ) Some reasons for this instruction can be found here, and here.

The Biblical model of church structure is based on the model of the family. Instruction to the church as to discipline, instruction, etc., can rightly be applied to the family. If the family narcissist pastes the "Christian" label to themselves it doesn't mean you have to pretend along with them that they are one when their behaviors consistently conflict with their profession. The narcissist "Christian" loves to pretend they are immune to accountability because they are a Christian. Passages like 1 Cor. 5:12-13 prove they are more accountable to us because they have assumed the name of Christian, not less. If the Christian is a family member, they are doubly accountable for their bad behavior. Not twice as unaccountable--as they would have you believe.

1 Tim. 3:1-5 is solid Biblical counsel to go "no contact" with those who persist in being evil. Ignore Christians who ignore this counsel. They haven't "known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise unto salvation..." (2 Tim. 3:15)

Paul instructs Christians that the peril of end times will largely be because of evil persons disguising themselves as being godly. The course of action in such peril is to walk away. The concern shouldn't be for the salvation of such individuals; the issue becomes your salvation both temporal and eternal. Save yourself, your family, your church by turning away from those dedicated to their evil agendas.

Don't condone evil by standing by it, by supporting it. When you tolerate evil persons you telegraph to others that you approve of them. Don't lend your good reputation to such a base character. Don't let the reprobate hide himself by virtue of your lending your Christian name and support to him. You will join in his blasphemousness if you do so. What is blasphemy? Taking the Lord's name in vain. The true spirit and weight of the third commandment to not take the Lord's name in vain has more to do with besmirching God's name ("name" is synonymous with "character" in the Bible) than it does with swear words. To make this commandment about swear words is to trivialize something very much more serious. To take on the Lord's name (i.e. call yourself a Christian) in vanity means you take His name but not His character, therefore, you misrepresent His character to others. One of the characteristics Paul mentioned in the list above is blasphemy. Claiming to be God, or claiming His divine attributes, or claiming His name but living in contradiction of His character are all under the purview of blasphemy. Letting some malignant narcissist borrow your good Christian name (in addition to their taking on God's name) in support of their own reputation is dangerous business for a sincere Christian. The evil doer hiding under the name of Christ is guilty of blasphemy. Don't get caught in it along with him. From such turn away...or you end up participating in his evil.

And he spoke to the congregation, saying, “Depart now from the tents of these wicked men! Touch nothing of theirs, lest you be consumed in all their sins.” Numbers 16:26 NKJV

18 comments:

Writer in Washington said...

Bravo! Very well said.

Anonymous said...

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

Its funny you should quote this as reasons to go NC with N family members...my N mother quoted the above to me as a perfect description of myself b/c i refused to OBEY her and carry out her wishes... and after I went further and started speaking to family members (who had been on her black list for several decades), the last straw was made since i was a disobedient traitor... and for this she has now disowned me as her offspring... she "has no children now".. "children are dead" ...and more drivel.

When a malignant N cloaks themselves as a christian, WARNING! WARNING! bible verses will be twisted, contorted and deflected back to you so as to eliminate any possibility of sin staining the N veneer.

After the self-righteous onslaught (usually a diatrabe about how I FORCED her to treat me so obnoxiously in order to "correct" my erring ways), my head would be spinning from the projectile spin campaign....Sometimes I wish God had a 1-800 number so I could find out whose side He's really on!

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna, I love your blog. You have helped me so much. I am still torn, and hoping you can help. I have "walked away" from my mother who is an awful human being. Of course, she has triangulated the family, and has my sister in her control. When I walked away from my mother a year ago (after she caused a scene and walked out of my daughter's 3rd birthday party leaving her in tears), my sister went with her.

Although my sister called through the year, mostly to do NM's bidding to see my children, she didn't extend herself or her family to get together with ours for nine months, and made some excuse for every invitation I offered to her.

After that, I'd had enough. I sent her an email, telling her I can't have this behavior and not to do Mom's bidding, and to protect my daughter, I sadly had to let go of the relationship.

My daughter, who is now four, asks me all the time why she can't see her cousins. She misses them terribly and it breaks my and my husband's heart to see her without them. I am surprised that she still remembers them a year later, their names and even the names of their pets. It is just heart-wrenching for us when she talks about her cousins and tells me that she misses them.

I know I could easily get my sister in our lives again and her children -- all I'd have to do is invite her family and my mother over for Easter -- as if nothing ever happened, and they'd be here in a flash. My mother has never seen her new granddaughter who just turned one, and she pitifully sends cheap gifts and cards in the mail on holidays, which I throw away. NMom is dying to see her new grandchild -- plus I am sure she is too embarrassed to tell her own siblings and friends that she's never seen her new granddaughter. I can't imagine what she says to cover it up. She either demonizes me, or she lies and pretends that she's seen her. I really don't know.

So I am in a conundrum. I am so happy having my NMom out of our lives. I truly can't stand the woman. She is evil. However, I miss my sister, I miss her kids and I ache for my daughter who longs to see her cousins. I know it's crazy that I still miss my sister, but that is how I feel. We did have a good thing going for a few years with our families and were having a wonderful time. I miss those fun times and the future we had talked about with our children being together.

I know my sister will never defy my NMom because she needs her too much. She relies on her, and they are best friends.

This is so hard...can you give me some advice. I'm willing to hear any advice from anyone, or any ideas.

Thank you so much.

holy water salt said...

I recall an N I know saying he "prays for wanton women..."

think about it- he's an adulterer and porn addict.

I am sure he prays for them, more the merrier...

Yes, N Christians are horrible, horrible couple them with the "love thy neighbor crowd" I want to scream...

krl said...

Lordy! I just love this blog! Know what? The more I read and study up on this stuff, the more clear my thinking AND my life is becoming. Thank you so much, Anna....and all of you.

I can't believe how 'vague' so much of my thinking was before. It was impossible to make wise decisions and to cut through ANY of the shit in life as long as I held to much of the crap that was dished out in the name of God. Each day that goes by now, I find myself better able to discern the Realities of Life.......the Truth....the Way....and it is so much SIMPLER. Not easy...but simple. What you have written and shared with us today strengthens my decision to go NC. I can't believe how many 'pretzels' my body, my mind, and my spirit have been in over the years....and to feel those knots being untied...my body is beginning to relax (a little), my thinking becoming more clear, and my soul, safe in the arms of a Lord who truly loves me.....Wow....way better than I had ever hoped for in my lifetime.

All I can say....is that I am truly thankful. Thank you all.

krl

Jordie said...

What you say is sane of course! But having come from a christian cult run by malignant narcissists, I have heard every argument under the sun by ex-cult members not to turn away from this evil, and to in fact continue to try and reach them since God himself doesn't reject them (they believe). They use Jesus' words in Matthew 5:44, to pray for, love and do good to your enemy, and sometimes I myself wonder how to reconcile this verse and the Timothy verses in this situation.

Surely the malignant narcissist is our enemy, yet Paul tells us to turn away from them. Of Whom then was Jesus talking about in Matthew? I am still working on this one.

I myself left the cult, am working to bring others to awareness of religious narcissists and their abuse, and have tried to explain my stand to other ex-cult members, but they continue to believe it is more merciful to keep believing the sinners will repent. In fact, I am considered to need prayer myself as I am 'bitter' because I call a spade a spade.

Its a tricky one.

Naive No Longer said...

Oh my gosh, Anonymous @ 5:30 PM, your mother sounds like mine.

You said, "Sometimes I wish God had a 1-800 number so I could find out whose side He's really on!"

My mother used to spin my head so bad that I really questioned the same thing. She is so convinced of her reality and it is so diametrically opposed to my perception of things that I actually at times wondered which one of us God "believed".

She has also taken scripture, scripture that has had personal meaning to me in the midst of some hard times and used it for her own selfish justification. I have been completely flabbergasted.

But as Anna said, Paul found it necessary to warn Timothy of people like this. And no better advice can be found than "from such to turn away".

Naive No Longer said...

Anonymous@ 8:10 pm - I know and understand the great depth of the pain and agony you are describing at losing family members through the ordeal of trying to create peace and sanity by protecting yourself from your narcissistic mother.

I, too, agonized with respect to relationships with other family members. I tried so hard to walk the line with them and make it work. But because they were tied to my mother at the hip in such an unhealthy way, I would get burned every time. I still, however, tried and tried to make something work because the loss was so incredible and there were good memories.

If you indeed open the door and invite your sister and mother over for Easter, I can predict (from personal experience) that it will show you once again, loud and clear, exactly why you had to cut off from them in the first place. Not only from your mother, but your sister as well.

I kept thinking I could go back in and navigate it in such a way as to "not get burned this time". The cost was ALWAYS too high. But it took me opening the door over and over and over again before I finally had no other conclusion but that no contact was a necessity. It is a horrible decision that no one should have to make.

You may very well need to go ahead and invite them and see how it plays out to finally get closure on this horrible reality. I am not a betting woman, but I will bet that it will prove to be an experience that will nail the coffin for you. Or it may be pleasant enough to keep you opening the door a bit more until you finally see the corrosiveness and are forced once again, to have to shut the door.

I kept thinking I could suck the good parts out without getting the sour rotten parts. BUT IT NEVER WORKED. Very, very sad, but very true.

I wish you the best of luck. This is no easy road.

Naive No Longer said...

Anna,

I would be interested in how you respond to Jordie's question. I do know at a gut level that to "love one's enemies and pray for those who persecute you" does not mean that you have to remain in relationship with them, but so many people twist these types of verses and do untold harm to themselves personally by trying to follow them to their own detriment - when I don't believe that is what God intended.

How unfortunate for you Jordie, that you are being called bitter for calling a spade a spade. It seems to me that Jesus was very articulate in calling a spade a spade when it came to the scribes and Pharisees. And He made no bones about it!!

Anna Valerious said...

So I am in a conundrum. I am so happy having my NMom out of our lives. I truly can't stand the woman. She is evil. However, I miss my sister, I miss her kids and I ache for my daughter who longs to see her cousins. I know it's crazy that I still miss my sister, but that is how I feel. We did have a good thing going for a few years with our families and were having a wonderful time. I miss those fun times and the future we had talked about with our children being together.

Anonymous,

I'm sorry for the situation you're in. It is a common scenario that when a person separates from a parent that they will lose other family members. It is inevitable really.

Your choices are few. Your sister is the one, really, who minimized your relationship to almost zero. Your ending all contact with her was a logical progression from your sister having reduced the relationship to almost nothing already. The rules have been defined. To have your sister in your life you must acquiesce to having your mother in your life. "Them's the rules" as defined by your mother and your sister. All those wonderful happy times you remember having with your family and your sister's family were all predicated on you being a good daughter to your mother. If you want those times back you know the drill. Cave to momma. Your sister is weak; you are not. Which model do you want to set up for your daughter?

I would venture to guess that your daughter is likely sensing your emotions in this situation. You are languishing for your sister. So your daughter is languishing for her cousins. Your child is likely going to model the behaviors and words that you express. So, if you want to maintain radio silence where your mother is concerned it is time to make some positive changes in your own life...and your daughter's.

Nature abhors a vacuum. If you create an empty space you must fill it with something else...or you will eventually fill it with what was in it originally. It is time to actively look for another family, or families, to spend time with. Don't go looking for people who are just like your sister and her family. It may take multiple families to fill the void. Actively search out little friends for your daughter. Help her to find good friendships along with fun activities. You can't expect you or your daughter to not feel lonely for friendship after losing a family of friends. If you've already done this then I have no other ideas. But I really think that if you do the above, if you throw yourself into making new friends and exploring new adventures, you won't feel the void nearly so intensely. As for children, they are very, very resilient, but they can learn from us to be rigid and to focus on what they don't have rather than what they do have.

As a parent your work is to model the attitudes and behaviors of a healthy, happy person. You are seeing yourself in your four year old. Time to change that.

Anna Valerious said...

Jordie and NNL,

I will be responding to Jordie's question/dilemma on Matt. 5:44 vs. Paul's instruction, but I'll do so in the form of a post instead of a comment. Stay tuned.

greendaze said...

Ooooh, I was married to that man for 10 years and was always in knots, thinking I was the awful one. He stressed highly that marriage was for good, "no matter what"! I finally left him 6 months ago and at the same time went NC with my N-father. They are just alike and it was almost like divorcing 2 people at the same time. It has been rough, but I feel sooooooo much better. I still fear how my father is going to react if I do talk to him. I just haven't called me or anything and he hasn't tried to contact me either. In fact when I left my husband he called him to see how HE was doing. That was when I decided it was time to let go of him too. He has yet to call ME and see how I'm doing. It amazes me that being his only child how he treats me. No Daddy's girl here. Thank you so much for your blogs Anna, I get strength to keep believing in what I already know was true, but just didn't trust myself.

Anonymous said...

Response To Anonymous with 4yr old:

1)The 1st priority of any parent is the protection of their children! Your sister and mother don't care for your children! They will say "I care" but their actions will always be the complete opposite.

2)As parents, you have to lead the way to a healthy family(Please see Anna's previous blog on Mob Family).

3) IF YOUR MOTHER IS EVIL!!!! At four, explain to your daughter that "your #1 job is to protect our family". That grandmom has a "boo boo" on her brain and that grandmom "enjoys hurting you and your mom".

4)If your mother is so EVIL, why does your sister prefer your mother's company over yours? Face it, Your sister is your mother and your mother is your sister! A relationship with either is the sure path to turmoil. Your sister is with your mother voluntarily!

In conclusion, you are on the path of discovery. You are forging a new and healthier way for your family and children. Live for your husband and children.

And remember: the harder the task, the more likely you are on the right path!

jenny said...

I honestly think it was these Bible verses that got me to this blog. I was at a Luke something-or-nother ministry first and found the link to this blog.

Anyway, I was researching these verses as I had just read them in a book and the "turn away" jumped off the page at me. Turn away? Did it really say turn away? I was shocked and pleased. God is giving us orders to turn away from these types of people because they are not good for us! God is good!

Denise Quinn said...

You are so right Anna. It is irrelevant whether narcissists hate love themselves or not. They are completely self serving and they walk all over everyone. And Church is a perfect place for these sociopaths to hide.

Akua said...

Life with a N, especially N Christian is hell.

I have lived it for 15years and now by the grace of God I have the strength to move on without feeling guilty. My deliverance came form the day I read
2 Timothy 3-1-5 with understanding.

Some versions also use the word abusers. No body should endure abuse in the name of Christianity.

God is love and the whole faith is based on loving God and loving your neighbor.

The best decision for me was to separate from the relationship. It is not your job to try and endure the pain just that one day the N will change.

You are also a child of God and deserve to live in peace. Remember righteousness, peace and joy in the holy ghost...is our portion as children of God.

Gemma Quinn said...

I have no idea what to do. I am in a crazy custody battle with my ex narc husband. My narc parents are on his side . I'm the scapegoat literally only have two people I can trust. I'm feeling so overwhelmed your blog help a bit. I'm just not sure what to do. I feel trapped.

Akua said...

The narc loves contention/fights. They enjoy seeing you in distress. As much as possible keep calm and let the law decide. I pray for more grace and strength