It’s Narcissist Friday!
Narcissism is hard to believe. It seems so strange, so perverse. Sometimes it’s the intensity that amazes us. Sometimes it’s the tenacity. Sometimes it is the careful manipulation, the long-term investment of the narcissist. Who can do these things? What kind of person is this? What is this horror we call narcissism?
Call it evil.
We have little hesitation in calling some things evil. Murder, rape, trafficking, drug dealing, corporate greed—evil is a word widely used in our culture. In all these things we refer to behavior that is so abhorrent to our thinking that we simply cannot identify with the perpetrator. Who sends a letter bomb? What kind of person can cheat an older person out of her life’s savings? Who could light a cat on fire? These are evil acts.
Narcissism is evil.
Most of us are uncomfortable with thinking of certain people as evil. We were taught that everyone can be redeemed, that there is the potential of good in everyone. The only evil one was the devil. The rest of the cruel and inhumane people were just deceived by him. So the most we could ever say would be:
Narcissists do evil things.
And I suppose that’s enough. If you are uncomfortable labeling another person as evil, that’s okay. As long as it doesn’t hinder your ability to see that person’s actions as evil. It is important to recognize evil when it comes into our lives.
But the Scripture doesn’t seem to have any problem labeling people as evil, does it? Evil people do evil things. Some stand against the Lord boldly. Some hurt others. Some are disgusting and vile. Perhaps they can change, if they allow Jesus to change them, but the Scripture doesn’t seem to have much difficulty calling them evil.
Evil actions are almost normal in the life of the narcissist. Lies, cruelty, manipulations, boasting, hatred, and the list goes on. In fact, I pulled out a few verses you might find interesting. Do you think these are reasonable descriptions of narcissism?
Genesis 6:5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
Psalm 38:20 Those also who render evil for good, They are my adversaries, because I follow what is good.
Proverbs 6:14 Perversity is in his heart, He devises evil continually, He sows discord.
Isaiah 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
Micah 2:1 Woe to those who devise iniquity, And work out evil on their beds! At morning light they practice it, Because it is in the power of their hand.
Matthew 12:35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.
1 Timothy 6:4-5 he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.
James 4:16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
Jude 1:8 Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries.
These seem like pretty good descriptions of narcissistic behavior to me. What do you think?
Narcissism is evil.
Does it really help to call something evil? Yes! It helps because we so often don’t know what to call it. The scapegoating, the gaslighting, the projection, the lies—these are evil things. That’s why they don’t make sense in our minds or hearts. The motivation behind them is evil and we don’t understand. And not only do we not understand, we don’t want to understand. Who wants to know the feelings that motivate someone to do evil? Not me.
The Scriptures teach of two spiritual realms: good and evil. There are people who live in evil, who so identify with evil that we can call them evil. There are people who appear to be good . . . sometimes. Sometimes they reach into the realm of evil to bring out behaviors and ideas. According to the gospel, we were all a part of evil, living in that realm, until Jesus saved us. Today, the memories and flesh-patterns of evil are still with us and still try to pull us back. The battle between good and evil is part of this broken world.
But if you are trying to understand narcissistic behavior while defining it as part of the good, you will forever miss the point. There is no good in narcissism. There might be explanations for the evil behavior, but it is still evil.
Call it evil.