In the Church

I have been challenged a few times for using the term “narcissist.” The concern comes not from the fact that I am not a board-certified psychologist but from the fact that I am a Christian. Christians aren’t supposed to categorize people, I am told. There are only people who know Jesus and people who do not, some suggest. To categorize people further than this just gets in the way of the real concern.

In a way, I understand. Theologically, there is a very simplistic sense to the concern. However, the error exhibited by the concern isn’t quite as simple. The error suggests that behavior reveals inner truth. Again, there is a simplistic rightness to that, but not all behavior is overt. In other words, the behavior you and I see may not be consistent with what lives inside.

If you turned over the rocks and looked behind the locked doors, I think you could find almost any sin in church or among church members. Active sin with willing participants. Some find that hard to believe. All of us find that hard to accept.

Nine years ago the congregation of Christ Lutheran Church in Wichita learned that their church president had a terrible secret. Dennis Rader, whom they had known for many years, was the BTK murderer. For nearly twenty years, he had terrorized the community. The people never knew if or when they might be his victims. The fact that the police couldn’t seem to catch him made it possible for him to bring so much fear. Even when the killings stopped, no one knew if he was still out there watching his next victims. They certainly didn’t think that he was living among them as a trusted church leader.

BTK (bind, torture, kill), the nickname used to identify the murderer, has been diagnosed with anti-social personality disorder. ASPD is similar to narcissism in many ways with the additional factor of almost habitual illegal activity. It involves lying, grandiose ideas, lack of empathy, difficulty in personal relationships, and more in common with narcissism. And at least one active church member, a church leader, exhibited it.

My point is that we really should not be surprised that these folks can be found in church. There are many reasons. Maybe some of them actually feel some guilt over their sin and hope that association with the church will help. Maybe some of them find the church to be a great hiding place or a feeding ground. And because of their willingness to play the games, people with personality disorders are often trusted in positions of leadership.

This is also true in any other organization. Dennis Rader (BTK) was an active scout leader. You find them in clubs and organizations, neighborhood associations, and political groups. Many seem drawn to public gatherings, perhaps for the affirmations or even for the contacts. The church is not more susceptible to the wiles of these people than other groups, but certainly not immune from them either.

So how do we deal with these people in the church? Should we ignore the truth about them as we embrace them in fellowship because of Jesus? Do we have to determine their doctrine before we can deal with their sin? In other words, if they believe the right things and act right when they are with us, should we overlook concerns and reject labels? I don’t think so.

Matthew 18:17 shows us that it is possible for an abuser to be dealt with as an abuser, apart from consideration of his personal faith. There is a point where the behavior has to be confronted as it is, not as it ought to be. Matthew 18 shows us that there are limits to the “breaks” someone might get because of an expression of Christian faith or church involvement.

Another helpful passage is 1 Timothy 5:8, where we are told that a man who will not provide for his own household is outside the faith and worse than an unbeliever. In other words, it doesn’t matter what he says he believes. What we have to look at is his behavior.

So let me be blunt.

    Abusers should be treated as abusers. Murderers should be treated as murderers. Narcissists should be treated as narcissists.

God may accept them because of Jesus if they cry out to Him, but society has a right and a responsibility to deal with their “personality disorders” and sins without regard to their faith. And the church should support society’s involvement.

That means we do not cover up the sins of church people any more than we would want to cover the sins of school teachers or scout leaders. We call the police and let the justice system do its job. We help the victims and listen to their stories. We understand that there may well be predators and abusers even among us.  And we teach people to identify these disorders.

All my previous cautions about using labels still stand, but naming a behavior is different from calling a person a name.  Not only is it right for us to discern and label behaviors and attitudes like narcissism and ASPD, it may be very important . . . in the church.


Filed under Narcissism

54 responses to “In the Church

  1. Emily

    I agree. Eighteen months ago, I left my church of 5+ years, as well as resigned from the leadership board. I’m stilll trying to figure out the facts, but in a nutshell, the senior pastor entangled himself emotionally with a female associate pastor. The problem came to light through a third party who had been victimized by the pastors long standing persistent pattern of manipulation and control. In a flash, the blinders came off my eyes and all those little moments of ‘ugh’ made sense. Our senior pastor exhibited self-absorbed harmful behaviors. The emotional entanglement was a symptom of a deeper problem. The horrific thing is that the denomination and our church chair bent reality and treated the situation as a single incident. The denomination & our church chair witheld information and used scripture to coerce council not to talk to their spouses or seek outside council. Council meetings were highly controlled using ‘procedure’ as an excuse, so this meant that no real dialogue came forward. If you had video taped the council meetings, you would have seen the majority of people engaged in ‘kum ba yah’ with just 2 of us scratching our heads and trying to bring in reality. My family’s departure was precipitated by a bizarre set of events that left my family, including my children, feeling physically threatened in our own home. And through this all, our interim pastor, church chair and several council members used scripture to shame those of us who were trying to get the facts and name the deep rooted harmful behaviors and relational patterns. Healing didn’t occur because those in charge didn’t want to turn the lights on. So sad.

  2. “Another helpful passage is 1 Timothy 5:8, where we are told that a man who will not provide for his own household is outside the faith and worse than an unbeliever. In other words, it doesn’t matter what he says he believes. What we have to look at is his behavior.”

    Yes, exactly…the only problem is, the N is so very, very good at hiding his behavior behind closed doors or facades of righteousness. We / I must become braver and speak out about the abuse and those who hear us speak must learn to be wise enough to hear

  3. Penny

    “naming a behavior is different from calling a person a name”. That is so good, Dave. How often abusers will pull the “name calling” card to shut down their victims. There are too many stories like the one you just told, and another came to mind that has a “reverse twist”. A few years ago there was a horrible story of local police beating to death a homeless, schizophrenic man. It made international news b/c of its brutality & abuse of power. There was a trial that many believed was full of even more corruption and the officers were acquitted (altho the ones involved had already been fired.) But for the public outrage, there was little to no accountability. Yet what made it all the worse to me was what did NOT make the news: behind the scenes, the largest, local church “reached out” to the Police Department in multiple, creative ways, including a luncheon that was affirming & supportive— but that same church did NOT reach out to the family of the victim!! Obviously I understand the importance of the church having a good relationship with the local police, and the church ostensibly wanted to build a bridge and offer support to the officers who serve the community honorably. But they went straight to the abusers, not the abused. (They even “forgave” the crime b/c “mental illness is so scary” said one leader.) The family of this young man had exhausted the “system” trying to get help for their son over several painful years, but it was futile. The parents lost their son twice: first to mental illness, and then at the hands of those sworn to “serve & protect”. Granted, most of the officers did not beat this man, but there was clearly a culture that led up to it–one of narcissism and even perhaps ASPD among their force. It seems that the church has often run straight to “forgiveness” and skipped over the repentance, remorse & accountability part. And in this case, the church itself lacked empathy for the victim/family–a classic trait of narcissism–and instead went straight to the “public image”. That family is still suffering, but the church eagerly partnered with corruption and virtually ignored the innocent. The church either (a) failed to see a “teaching moment” for its members to teach discernment and recognize narcissism, or (b) didn’t want to expose their own hidden agenda. Major fail.

    • unofficialnarcissist

      What is funny is that here the church that reached out to the abuser is mimicking the court system. Abusers get all sorts of privileges in family court, with little to no accountability. Could this be related to legalism? That (generally speaking) if one looks good externally in certain ways then one does not have to account for motivations and behaviors? No grace in that system for sure.

  4. Tammy

    I had never heard of this BTK murderer and it is horrifying that people are capable of that, and deeply sad that evil of all levels can hide anywhere; even the church!

    I agree with you completely in your use of the term Narcissist and am sharing a few points in support…

    Your blog content…
    I think it is very likely that most people that read your blog and leave heartfelt replies have been abused previously by a Narcissist and many are currently still suffering at the hands of one of these hateful and twisted individuals. I know (and I believe that others I described above will agree) that what you have to say in your blog about God’s grace and your Friday Narcissism posts is INCREDIBLY on point, discerning, true, eye-opening, insightful, filled with Ah-ha moments, wisdom and great advice. Your messages are delivered with humility, but with the necessary courage to call out sin regardless of where it is found (in the church, educated organizations, etc.) As a result your words are incredibly eye-opening, bringing an awareness and understanding to readers that is the first step towards healing their bruised and broken hearts.

    To the person who thinks a Christian shouldn’t use the term “Narcissist”…
    1. Pastor Dave’s experience with narcissists is IN THE CHURCH. If they weren’t so prolific there, he wouldn’t be able to offer such healing words for so many who otherwise would be suffering in silence and confusion.
    2. I agree with Pastor Dave that of course there are differences in narcissistic behavior and the term “Narcissist” is a general term being used here to describe someone that consistently exhibits an overwhelming number of typical narcissistic behaviors. (Not just situational behavior or a couple of these traits)
    3. The Bible is clear that we are to call out the sins of our brothers. Jesus and John the Baptist called the revered Pharisees VIPERS. You can call it a label or whatever you want. It a word like Narcissist that was used to describe their BEHAVIOR. When we use the term NARCISSIST, it is like Jesus using the word VIPERS. Both Pharisees and Narcissists care only about the IMAGE that they create for themselves, yet they exhibit behavior that is hypocritical, dishonest, sneaky, lying, abusive, venomous, detestable, disgusting, scary… and we should call it what it is… EVIL. Jesus detested their behavior and set an example for us by speaking publicly and boldly against it. I agree with Pastor Dave. We are Christians; followers of CHRIST, and should follow His example and call it what it is.

    The only Narcissists I have personal experience with were found in church!!
    1. My grandmother – She created a sweet, loving persona in her small church. Most would never believe that when old family secrets threatened to tarnish her image, she poisoned my grandfather until he died. She later passed away, still clinging to her image.
    2. Another family member’s image is so important to them that they use fear, threats, hateful behavior, blackmail and bullying in their attempts to elicit conformity and agreement with their ideals and rules. I was blackmailed and told that if I wouldn’t stop speaking up about this person’s behavior, their children would not be allowed to come to my house. As much as I love the children, it has been 10 years since they have visited my home. Now the children are rarely allowed to visit Grandparents that DARED to calmly disagree with their parents’ punishment tactics.
    3. My ex-husband – Covert cheating lying manipulative selfish tax-evading Narcissist who grew and turned to more twisted and overt behavior with a more compliant wife. When she finally had enough and left him, he cried to everyone, even came to my house and apologized for all he had done and said he got saved. I am not judging, for Jesus will judge him. Although his new IMAGE includes church attendance, more regular child support payments, and no obvious affairs with multiple married women, his behavior towards me is THE SAME. He is still just as selfish, twisted and manipulative, still violating visitation and spewing venom.

    So Pastor Dave, keep it coming.

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion of course, but those that don’t like that we use the term “Narcissist” just haven’t had the displeasure of experiencing their abuse.

  5. newlyanonymous

    Oh, hear! Hear! Bravo! Yes indeed. I have been labeling my abuser as a “narcissist” (because that’s what he is) although I am sure that the few with whom I have shared that information do not (yet) fully understand what that means. Who would without personal experience? There’s so very much to it.
    Yet as I have pondered this very issue, I have thought it analogous perhaps to someone who might have bipolar disorder. When someone is bipolar, everyone who knows that he or she may behave differently yet is accountable for those behaviors. With the narcissist, much of the bad behavior is hidden (thereby demonstrating that the narcissist knows it is wrong otherwise the behavior would be shown in front of others).
    While I don’t believe narcissism is a mental disorder such as bipolar disorder (but is a chosen pattern of behaviors) I do believe it is absolutely helpful – especially to the victims – to identify it and call it what it is. Otherwise, one might be mistakenly lead to believe that what the narcissist does is an aberration or not a pattern or lifestyle. The narcissist lives within a construct that s/he has created and follows in a chronic sense. It is not a good life with some bad decisions here and there. It’s like a hot pepper added to the chili; It permeates and spreads and never goes away.
    When I called a marital counselor (our third) to discuss counseling just me because I’m married to a narcissist, she told me on that first phone call that the narc rarely if ever changes. She said “There’s no reason or motivation for him to change. He doesn’t see you as a person. You’re his tool. Why would he change? This is working for him.”
    People in the church need to understand this too. If they don’t, then they might as well forsake all labels such as bipolar disorder, depression, and so on. I’m finding that some in my church don’t want to know, and others don’t mind getting their hands dirty by sharing my world with me and giving me appropriate counsel. They don’t mind knowing because they are my brothers and sisters. And they shoulder the burden with me.
    While I don’t expect my brethren to be fully versed in narcissism, I do expect them to listen to my pain and sorrows and not bury their heads in the sand.

    • Jennifer

      She said “There’s no reason or motivation for him to change. He doesn’t see you as a person. You’re his tool. Why would he change? This is working for him.”

      Yes, my counselor said the exact same thing. She counseled both abuse victims and abusers (in a gov’t run program) and the only thing she found consistent with the abusers (the majority of them narcs) is that they learned better how not to get caught. They would actually pick up pointers that would help them abuse more covertly. They never changed (only one did, but that was because it was a learned habit that he wasn’t aware of and he actually did come clean and learn a new way of handling himself).

      • I agree Jennifer. They learn tactics, terminology and new ways to abuse via counselling. Sadly I realised too late, that the 2 year part time Christian Counselling course my ex-N participated in post his second marriage break up WAS NOT benefiting his understanding of marriage breakup and the part he played and how he could improve. It benefited 100% in his new tactics, use of bible verses to manipulate (i.e. Christian Counsellor training), excusing his behaviour, judging my behaviour…. the list went on. This training made him more dangerous in what I believed was a Christian marriage. The Church and Christianity is a great tool for an N. I don’t believe they really understand what being a Christian is…. they are on the other side.

      • joy

        My ex did that…picked up language and manners that has made him even slicker as a covert abuser. So much so, that at first, even I was almost drawn back into it. Sigh.

      • In my personal experience, Christian counselors have been the worst. During my marriage to my N, we attended two different churches for counseling and it ended up badly for me both times. The first time, my N started crying in front of both of the counselors and they both jumped on me and started shaming me that I wasn’t doing my job. I was literally worshiping the ground this woman walked on during our marriage. To make matters worse, immediately after we let the counseling session, her tears dried up and she started laughing in my face about how wonderful the counseling session was. The second church I attended called me a horrible husband before I even had a chance to speak because my ex-wife already abandoned me and started making her strategic moves within the church to make me someone I’m not. I knew I was walking into a viper’s nest but I did it anyway. In the end, God knows my intentions and He knows that I was still fighting for my marriage. I look back now and I realize how idiotic it was to try to restore a marriage with a narcissist that was based on fraud. I was basically used for a green card. Months after getting the green card, she instigated several fights, abandoned the home and pleaded abuse. That was my first marriage and hopefully my last. It’s too emotionally draining.

      • Jennifer

        Flippy, this particular counsellor of mine specialized in spousal abuse by those with personality disorders, so she knew and recognized the signs and symptoms of having lived with a narc. The fact that she was a Christian was totally an “incidental” God thing in my case. She was first and foremost an abuse counsellor within an agency which was gov’t funded. I only found out she was a Christian when I identified myself as one to her.

        So sorry you had to go through that. 😦

      • Jennifer, Thank you for sharing your story and thank you for your kind words. God has used this fraudulent marriage to grow me closer to Him in ways that I never could have imagined. But on the same token, I’m human and a very emotional one at that. I didn’t marry really young like most of the people on here. I just kept waiting and trusting God for the right one. I guess you could say I got impatient and I jumped on the first attractive woman who “claimed” to be a Christian. In many senses, it was the worst decision I ever made because it has utterly destroyed my heart and my trust in people. However, my love for God has deepened, so in that sense I wouldn’t take it back for anything. But I still have my days where I’m just left depressed, confused and downright angry. I’m not perfect, but I’ve always considered myself to a peacemaker. Whenever possible, I tend to take the high road, but this relationship has turned me into a cynic of sorts because I’m starting to feel numb. Using people for personal gain is a terrible thing, but adding insult to injury by purposefully trying assassinate their character for the sole purpose of harming them takes it to a whole new level. I’m trying NOT to focus on the harm, but today is one of those days where I wish I could just feel Jesus wrap His loving arms around me. Though I hurt, I trust God.

  6. Anka McAlister

    Hello my dear friend,

    How very scary that a Lutheran Pastor was a murderer. This is a very good blog by Pastor Dave.

    Warmest love,


    Sent from my iPhone


  7. Sunflower

    One thing I haven’t seen mentioned, is that the N’s in church usually give the most money. Huh! We wouldn’t want to rock his boat then, would we?

    • Not always so Sunflower. Some expect it the other way around. My N NEVER EVER put a cent in the offering during the whole 3 years I was with him. I did. He NEVER EVER donated to church charities etc. I did. He EXPECTED that that everyone else OWED IT TO HIM. My N (second marriage and very short as I got out when he tried to strangle me), was always broke, owed heaps of money, didn’t work for a wage/salary but did illegal work himself when he got it. Called himself a Builder but wasn’t qualified in anything. Called himself a Pest Controller but had no qualifications. Licensed in nothing, insured in nothing. He used his Church contacts to get jobs…. handing out his business cards to everyone whom he would chat up. These jobs were few and he usually spent the money on himself…. new fancy tools which he didn’t need…. meanwhile expecting me to pay his bills when he couldn’t which was often …. home loan, his car payments etc etc until I was in fear of going broke myself. Trying to use my credit rating to get his car under Lease deal one month after our marriage(I fell for that through massive manipulation, even taking me out of town, another city where I couldn’t get advice/help). I didn’t fall for the appt he made to arrange for me to refinance my own home loan for $250,000 so we could renovate his house. I kept the appointment but realised that if we divorced I would be in HUGE FINANCIAL TROUBLE. I lost $40,000 on car as we had a huge flood and he didn’t renew the insurance on the car…. it was in my name. Lost my car as well but it was insured. He could have got the cars to higher ground but he refused. He showed NO REMORSE AT ALL. He used the church and friendships with people he had groomed at the church and was nice to …. to give himself a ‘good reputation’. That gave him credibility when I met him. He went to Church (found out later it wasn’t often). Even one of the pastors and his wife…. the wife being the ‘bestie’. Meanwhile he was ripping people off financially, abusing me at home, ripping ME off financially. He would quote scripture at me… “God made the two one” so “What’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine”. Manipulated me financially like you wouldn’t believe. No support from the Senior Pastor who washed his hands off it…. often due to the fact that the N’s “Bestie” was in his ear constantly about me and supporting him. The other Pastor and his wife (the ‘bestie’) took his side too. That Pastor married us and did the marriage prep. These so called “Christian N’s” I believe are not Christians at all. They have found an amazing place (The Church) where they can get away with their behaviour. They target Pentecostal Churches and particularly Churches who preach Grace and forgiveness WITHOUT the accountability and being brought to task Under these very verses which are quoted by Dave. My ex N didn’t provide for me at all. His house was in disrepair … no bathroom… stripped bare, walls pulled out to open up living area, ceiling fell down with water leak… he didn’t renovate it… that controlled me… I had to shower in a mock up shower outside. I realised he wanted my money/income to renovate it. After 2 years and 10 months I got out. My adult children helped because of the flood they came to help and saw the abuse. I did agree to counselling but he manipulated that too so I ended it and divorced him.I later had to leave that Church and find another. These N’s, if they are caught out by the Church Leaders, will move onto another church. If not they stay and build up their credibility by befriending people who will follow the message of GRACE without the accountability, repentance and forgiveness. That is not what Jesus said. Jesus didn’t just speak to the people in the story of the woman caught in adultery “Let the first person among you cast the first stone” and the accusers melted away. He THEN said to the woman “Neither do I condemn you, GO AND SIN NO MORE”. We cannot leave out the words Jesus spoke to the woman. Many churches leave that out. Much of what I have read have shown that some are wealthy. However many have become WEALTHY at the expense of other people who they use and rip off. It is hard to remain a Christian under these circumstances. I am so grateful for this Blog…. I don’t come in often…. but when I do… my faith is restored as I read truths and love from Dave and those who come and support us. Grace Ministry fails without the accountability, repentance, forgiveness…. only then can restoration begin. God loves us but He does hold us accountable.

      • Tammy

        Hi Annie and others that can relate!:

        I’m not on here much either but more lately because I see so many people in terrible pain from narcissists, and I haven’t forgotten the despair. I love to see the strength sprinkled throughout this blog from survivors. I know that hope is desperately needed and perhaps we can help by sharing our stories of how we not only survived but have made a new life for ourselves on the other side!

        I just wanted to share with you Annie that I think my ex and yours were twins. Selfish beyond belief. Blames everything on everyone else. Lies. Buys toys & tools and doesn’t pay for things he should. Has multiple affairs with married women. Only shows remorse when caught, and gives an Oscar worthy performance with real tears when faced with being left alone or the consequences of his actions.

        The above is written in present tense because although I healed to a functional level in 1 year and was great in 2 years, it has been 15 years since the divorce and he only got worse. At the time, I was pregnant and we also had an 8 year old. I didn’t believe in divorce, so I endured emotional and financial abuse for 14 years! Our tub had leaked for years, and you had to step over the rotten hole or fall through. When the bottom row of tile fell into the tub, he blamed it on me. The exterior siding was rotten, the kitchen sink cabinet door fell off because the kitchen sink had also leaked and the cabinet was rotten. He moved in with his girlfriend while I was pregnant, and secretly spread rumors to his friends that I had been unfaithful but he would “take care of the baby anyway”…. His business was on our property temporarily at the time, and when I was 9 months pregnant, he would turn off the A/C in the house and I would come home from work to a 95 degree house and melted candles because “he was paying the electric bill”… 15 years later he owes me a LOT of money but continues to buy boats, electronics, even remote control helicopters, and has always done all he could to keep the children away from me, spread lies, file false court documents, lie under oath… to quote Jennifer on here… Blah Blah Blah… haha!

        How can I laugh now? Because now my strength is in Jesus Christ and I do not battle people but powers and principalities. What does that mean? I am doing battle with demons of hell and my joy will NOT be taken from me. Read 2 Corinthians 4:1-18. You’ll have to read the verses to understand better, but here’s my commentary on it… We are like jars of clay, made who we are and where we are by the Master Potter himself Almighty God. I was weak then but grew strength and I am here now to “Let light shine out of darkness,” and “to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us”.

        These verses are in agreement with Dave’s Grace blog “For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God” Also in agreement with this particular blog post, I commented on this same page that my ex was faced with being alone again, so created a new image for himself to get his wife to stay. The new image includes church attendance and more regular child support payments, but his behavior has not changed toward me. It is very important that you understand that when we met as teenagers in high school, he SAID he was saved THEN!!

        To mirror others comments on this page. We need to be discerning based on their BEHAVIOR and not what they say!! Can you hear me shouting to the rooftops??!! Are they “In church” like the title of this blog post but living like Dr. Jekyl & Mr. Hyde? Did you know that Satan himself is described as the Angel of Light?! Run! (Insert your name) Run!

        To quote Jennifer “If the tree claims to be a fig, and it puts out thorns, than it’s a liar” AMEN JENNIFER! There are plenty of nasty people hiding in the church and other respectable places, and they are disguised like fig trees with sweet fruit. You don’t see the thorns until you are entangled in their vines, then even as your flesh is being pierced, you have a hard time believing someone could actually be like that, so you stay for a myriad of reasons and NONE of them make any real sense!

        No matter how much you are torn and bleeding, know that there is One that wore a crown of thorns and died just for you.

        I was saved as a child, but never really grew. I would have never sought Jesus Christ as deeply as I did if He had not allowed me to experience the horrific pain of Narcissistic abuse. Malachi 3:3 says, “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord”.

        A silversmith has to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames are hottest as to burn away all the impurities. He has to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it is in the fire. Too long in the flames, it will be destroyed. It is only pure and perfect when the silversmith can see his reflection in it.

        Oh, that was hard to hear when I just wanted to figuratively “lie in the burn unit and wait to die”. Sound familiar? Well, God has a book filled with incredible wisdom, and over time it transformed my way of thinking. It “renewed my mind” and I stand here today 15 years later in awe of the Amazing Graze of Jesus Christ and the healing, peace and love he brings to me every day.

        God, I ask for you to please help those in need to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and that you use the Holy Spirit to open their eyes to Your immeasurable love and the healing that you so freely give. Please continue to use Pastor Dave to share your words of Grace, and richly bless him for his faithfulness. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

  8. Butterfly

    I think that some narcissists in the church use God as another tool of manipulation. I posted on an earlier thread about a woman who was trying to force me into the role of her caretaker. She gave me a card that said:
    “Thank you for being there for me, its not my plan, its His.” She had underlined His several times.

    While I believe that God puts people into our path to help us when we need it, I find it self-serving to tell someone that “Gods plan is for you to do for me.”
    I have also had people tell me that “The Lord has put it on my heart to ask you to ….” I used to be naive and assumed that it was true, but I wised up.

    I do believe that the Lord speaks to people, but in my experience it has been about something He wanted me to do, not any instructions for other people to serve me.

    This sort of manipulation makes it very hard to say no, because then I appear to be disobeying God.

    • Jennifer

      Good observations, Butterfly. I had one elderly lady say exactly this sort of thing to me, then she started running my life. I wised up over a period of months, phoned her, called her out politely but firmly and that was the end of that.

    • “very hard to say no”…. that is their part of using the ‘knowledge’ they have gained at the Church itself. They know how to use scripture and wise counsel to twist it to their gain. They have become experts at preying on our niceness, generosity and our very Christian faith. I found out after my divorce that my ex-N had financially abused others also. He said to many people “A true Christian would help me” or “A true Christian would allow a brother in Christ to put that on time payment” “A true Christian would allow me to take the item home”. He got his computer for free that way. Because they finally let him take it and they had NOTHING in writing… he kept the computer and never paid a cent. He borrowed $10,000 from a Christian Dr with the promise he would write an agreement and start paying it back immediately and be able to have it paid within 6 months…. he never wrote the note, never paid it back and never told me of the debt. I found out when she put a letter under the front door. Huge lies ensued. I later found out that he told the person “If you were a true Christian you wouldn’t even be asking for the money back”. My ex-N purchased his huge TV from a Christian salesman at a Department store… never paid for it. He read on the internet that ‘if you lay low for 4 years, they can’t touch you’. I was always suspicious why I wasn’t allowed to answer the house phone or his mobile…. only my own. However I did clear the answer machine …. until he caught me… and found messages from people regarding getting their accounts paid. They are experts in ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul”. and NEVER paying. They are NOT CHRISTIANS…. they are grooming the Church people, Pastors for their cause AND using their knowledge to gain power, credibility and get away with it all. We must remember that they are Spiritually Abusing us and those whom they groom.

      • Cecilia K

        Annie, I’m always struck by how sad it is, that if these people put as much energy into actually helping others as they do into hurting them, they could be huge blessings. I guess the rush of power and getting away with their crimes is more exhilirating than the good feeling of helping people. So sad to see people use their gifts & talents for evil, instead of good.

    • Cecilia K

      Very good insight, Butterfly! I had not considered this before, because I don’t think I heard this particular manipulation from my N(s), but I’m glad to be armed with this wisdom, in case I ever Am confronted with this tactic. The closest I recall hearing was from two ex-BFs ago, when he said something to the effect of it being God’s will for us to get married, I think, but I don’t consider that narcissistic, as most Christians will say this in regard to the person they desire to marry. And I think, at the time, I was in agreement with him (before our problems started).

  9. Valerie

    Shouldn’t the bigger concern of the people having an issue over the use of terms be that the behaviors of a narcissist indicate he is NOT SAVED?!

    It is unfortunate that this term has been overly used and developed a stereotype that has to do with appearance. With the random general public I have talked to, only 1 person has known what a narcissist even was (according to the DSM criteria). This person knew it because they were married to one.

    We live in a narcissistic society. People accept that and at times seem to relish it. Yet there is a difference between someone acting narcissistic and actually having NPD as outlined in the DSM. The general public does not realize the extent the narcissist will go to preserve their false image, not to mention they never formed empathy.

    Within the church I have come to realize there is just a huge lack of discernment. We truly are sheep to the core. We “baaaa” behind nearly anyone who projects themselves to be a leader who uses scripture. The devil knows scripture. The devil quoted scripture to Jesus. In James we are told “you believe there is one God…good even the demons believe that and shudder!”. Scripture is peppered with references to people who deceive and can not be trusted due to what they say and even their overt actions are deceptive. Proverbs 26:24-26 comes to mind. Saul said David was safe even though his heart was bent on killing him. Jesus judged the heart and He has made it clear this is what is important to Him. If its important to Him then shouldn’t it be important to us?

    • Just a little note. My therapist (for PTSD) said that I was describing a Psychopath …. not so much a Narcissist. Why? Because when he hit me (and other things), he had a smirk on his face… a look of abject anger but also pleasure. That is someone without empathy, completely, but it is more than a Narc. I hadn’t looked at it that way…. then I started looking at DSM for Sociopath and Psychopath. The three…. Narc, Socio, Psycho are very closely related. If I called him a Psychopath I would be criticised because he hasn’t killed anyone… well that is not what the DSM says about Psychopaths and Sociopaths. They don’t all go that far…. many are capable of. Terminology helps us as victims to make sense of it all.. Many outside of the situation don’t understand that. If we use the terms Abuser and extend that i.e. We might say “He Physically, emotionally and spiritually abused me”… people may understand. They still may not believe us…. but they understand the terminology. Domestic Violence is many things. Fortunately it is being talked about in society more now with groups like White Ribbon.

      • newlyanonymous

        Annie, I greatly appreciate your comment here because although he has yet to hit me, I have seen “that look.” Those eyes. And even on occasion that smirk which just seemed strangely evil somehow. I can’t recall what was being discussed, but even though there’s wasn’t anything I said wrong, he smirked at me like “gotcha!” I remember those eyes and that smirk so well. Gave me the creeps. I remember before I knew what narcissism was I was searching and searching to find what fit – was it anti-social personality disorder? Sociopathy? What exactly? Narcissism seems to fit the best, but those moments of hatred remain. Just this past week he hissed at me, when around 5:30 in the morning, I got up and all was dark. We have two cats, and there appeared to be the shape of a dead mouse outside my bedroom door. I walked to the kitchen where he was, reading his Bible (the one I gave him 10 years ago; He’s never asked for another and I sadly encouraged him to read it – why sadly? cuz now it’s a tool against me). Anyway, I asked in a very polite way, “There appears to be a dead mouse on the rug. Would you mind picking it up please?” And he glared at me. I know you know those eyes. I don’t always seem them, but there they were again. And he hissed, “Why don’t YOU get it?” And his teeth were grinding. I swear sometimes I wonder about possession. I just don’t know how to explain it otherwise – how someone can switch on and off from Jekyl to Hyde, but the worst one always appears when no one else can see. It wasn’t a big deal, so I said ‘Okay,” and thanked the Lord that I really didn’t get upset or feel hurt. Turned out to be a mole anyway. The next day there was a squirrel, dead, beheaded, in the same place. I guess I never thought he might have put them there. Our cats have never taken the head off a creature, but it’s possible. Anyway, I know of what you speak. There was what appeared to be horse poop in my car engine last week when it died, of all places, at church Wednesday night. (We live on a farm, so he could have put it in there.) I don’t know. I’m relying on God’s timing for all to be revealed – and His grace to protect me and our daughter. He has thus far.

      • Jennifer

        Ah yes, the inappropriate smile or smirk. :/ When I was in the secretive process of getting away from my husband and off to a women’s shelter, I accidentally left a paper about divorce beside the computer. I was normally very careful as I planned my getaway, but he came home early and caught me unawares.

        Anyway, I guess he saw it and he came downstairs, smiled cherubically and said in the sweetest tone, “Was that paper on the desk upstairs meant for me?” But the eyes told the whole story, and they said, “How DARE you!”.

        My very intuitive son was the one who picked up on the eyes and the smile not matching and it worried him. I was too shell shocked about leaving that paper on the desk to notice much of anything. O____O

        Later on, safely at the shelter, I asked what it was about that incident that freaked out my son (so much so that he suddenly believed that night, as he lay in bed, that I was about to get murdered by his dad). They said that it was because my husband’s reaction to the “divorce” paper was not normal. Normal was one of two reactions: 1. Overt anger accompanied by a lot of yelling, maybe some idol threats to make a point, some persuasive arguments so that I would reconsider. Anger based upon shock and a scrabbling to get a hold on what was happening. 2. Shock, tears, confusion, begging and pleading etc. while trying to get a hold on the situation.

        That question with a sweet smile, like there wasn’t a thing wrong with what he found, was just far too much self-control and far too little emotion for the occasion (except for the well-controlled, dominating anger in the eyes). THAT is what spelled sociopathic nature in the Shelter’s eyes.

        The same sort of thing happened to a woman at the shelter when we were there which put us all on a level 4 security alert. Her husband had left a note on her car (even though the shelter was non-advertised and supposedly secret). But then he stepped up the ante by phoning the shelter director and having a long friendly chat with her in a rather superior way. It wasn’t unusual for spouses to phone but you’d get one of the two normal reactions I stated above. The fact that he was calm, reasonable, and superior had the Director’s neck hairs on red alert.

      • newlyanonymous

        Jennifer, I thank the Lord for that director’s insight. Not everyone – sadly even those in leadership in our churches – are aware of that. They take the calm response as “what a reasonable man” type of thing instead of recognizing that the calm shouldn’t be if the person is one of empathy and real connection with people. I am in preparation mode now too – but for what exactly, I’m not sure. But I’m preparing (note-taking, journaling, documenting, backing up, everything on laptop not main computer, telling a small circle of people what happens in our home, etc). I’ve seen those eyes and smirk too – not all the time though, but when I have in the past and once in the present, wow – it stops me cold.

      • Cecilia K

        Newly anon — Yeesh! Ick! That’s terrifying (well, if he did it, instead of your cats, which sadly, seems likely).

  10. Kitkat

    Wow! Amen, amen, amen! Pastor Dave this is just exactly what I have been dealing with recently with not only my ex-narc friend but another member at my church. I became a member of the church council and was asked if I would organize the church. (i.e. clean out cupboards, get rid of obsolete items etc.) in part because this other church N had been complaining. As I began the process, I learned that this individual had explosive run-ins with at least a dozen or more other church members. I took a tour of the church with this N and asked what her issues were. She proceeded to give me her take on what things should be done, however, she did not like it when I didn’t agree with her on a couple of issues. As time went on, I found that she would give favors to certain members of the congregation and not to others. When I objected to this policy, she resigned in a huff. Sent a big e-mail out, saying she didn’t need a lecture from me etc. When I had the problem with my N friend and I decided that I should just leave this church even though I love it. Because she was causing a division because of our falling out and I decided it was best to take myself out of the equation for the sake of the other good people at the church. So what happens… the other N returns to reek havoc on the congregation once again. She caused a major incident against an innocent person (whom she hates) at of all things a memorial service. Prior to this last incident, I had been contemplating on going back, but since this has happened, I have decided it is unlikely that I will return. Especially since I received an e-mail that this N was giving interviews for the new secretary. I love the Pastor at this church and for the most part the other members, but I cannot continue in a place where this kind of havoc is allowed to go on. The idea that these people are Christians (sheep) is mind boggling, what they are, are wolves in sheep’s clothing. My sister who is a counselor put it this way, a wolf is a predator and he goes stealthily after the vulnerable innocents whenever he is allowed to. We need to recognize them for what they are, And when you have them in the church, they are there to destroy, not to edify and uplift Thank you so much for this post, you have helped me more than you know!

  11. Flippy

    Very good points Valerie. We do live in a narcissistic society and unfortunately it doesn’t seem to get better. We live in a modern age where everything revolves around self. Facebook, selfies, etc. People have made themselves into their own idols. Social media is a great outlet for Narcissists because it allows them to selectively polish whatever image they want to project themselves into. This isn’t limited to just narcissists but you if you’re in contact with any narcissists on social media, you’ll see just how deceitful they can be. In terms of salvation, only God knows if our hearts truly responded to His invitation to follow Him. Many people mumble the repetitive prayers that the pastor says during an altar call and anyone who raised their hand is now saved. As much as we’d like to call that salvation, that’s not it works. Yes, I’m sure some individuals really do want God and really want to pursue a relationship. But getting in an emotionally amped worship service and saying some words that really aren’t your own doesn’t guarantee you’re good standing with God. Salvation is about a heart attitude that recognizes your sinful condition and accepts Jesus’s atonement for that sin. It’s not a series of words or phrases but a genuine and sincere acknowledgement that you need Jesus.

    When it comes to narcissistic behaviors, we just don’t know if they are really saved or not. A quick look at their behavior would say no, but we can’t see into their heart and this what God sees. The point of contention is trying to consolidate the fact that someone could be submitted to Christ, yet still appear to have zero moral inclination. We all do wrong things, but a true Christian would be receiving “conviction” from the Holy Spirit concerning their bad choices. The real questions is this, is the Christian narcissist rebelling against the Holy Spirit or is the narcissist even a Christian at all?

    Now before we get all judgmental, we must be honest with ourselves. We all make mistakes and we all have moments in our life where we rebel against God, even as Christians. This is why God says that He looks on the heart and man looks on the outside. If you were to see me at my worst, you might say that I wasn’t a Christian. Christianity is not about actions or behaviors, but about attitude and surrender. As much as I would like to label the narcissists in my life as a non-Christian, I really don’t know. I do know that if I did those same types of warped things, I would hope that the Holy Spirit would convict me and I would change according to His wishes. After seeing the type of damage and harm that these people can do, I would never want to become someone like that.

    • Jennifer

      I think our faith IS about our actions and behaviors. If the tree claims to be a fig, and it puts out thorns, than it’s a liar. If it puts out figs in public, but in private when you peel those figs they are thorns inside, they are hypocrites. I have no idea why pastors and other church members tolerate this nonsense. These people should be called up before the church to explain their behavior and if there is no repentance leading to change, they should be turfed like the “heathens and tax collectors” they have proved themselves to be.

      They prey in the church population because we’ve all been taught to be nice rather than be truthful in love and so we become a feeding ground for these people. Nice is what we do for image. Truth is what we do in love….even if the truth is not very pleasant.

      • Kitkat

        Jennifer, you are absolutely right. Again a big Amen!

      • Well said Jennifer. They are predators. Jesus spoke against those who deceive in His name. Simply…. they should be turfed AFTER they have been brought to account and do not repent and turn from their ways. Maybe the Church is worried about being called for ‘defamation’. These people know how to pull that one too.

    • Valerie

      Flippy, while its true only God knows our hearts He has also given us His Word as a basis for how to deal with those who have rejected Christ. In Romans 6:11-14 we are told as believers we are to be dead to sin but alive in Christ. While none of us is without sin (1 John 1:8) scripture distinguishes between those believers who occasionally sin and those who perpetually sin with no remorse or desire for repentance. If anyone keeps on sinning he does not have Christ. The one who continues to sin is of the devil (1 John 3:6-9). Unless we are made new and have turned from our sin we are not born of God (John 3:3, 2 Cor 5:17, 1 Peter 1:23).

      I agree with Jennifer’s points on how abusers can be quite comfortable in church. I have come to see this as an issue within the body of those who call themselves brothers. Jesus was willing to say “woe to you” to the Pharisees and call those who were not of Him a brood of vipers, yet within the pews we don’t want to feel uncomfortable and would rather only talk about grace and love while turning a blind eye to evil. The devil loves this because he can continue to wreak havoc because no one will stop him from deceiving the masses.

      I don’t believe we can or should judge a person based on a select number of incidences but when there is a pattern of behavior that is inconsistent with what scripture tells us is someone who is born again then I think we should do what Jesus did and call it for what it is. Someone who repeatedly lies and manipulates to cover up their sin is not someone who is born of God according to scripture. Not only can we come to these conclusions based on the knowledge of His Word, I believe we are called to (1 Cor 5:12). How else can we bring someone back from sin (James 5:19-20) if we don’t acknowledge they are not in the fold?

      To be a follower of Christ we have to love what God loves AND hate what He hates. This is my interpretation of scripture.

      • Thankyou Valerie…. you have put it so gracefully and truthfully. That is exactly what the New Testament teaching is saying. Bless you. This has helped me immensely. In my N’s case….. repeated patterns of behaviour…. 3 wives….. same same same. Other people in the community…. repetitive over decades. Always grooming the next Church…. He is on to his 4th in 20 years. That is not repentance for sinful behaviour. They don’t even believe they are sinning…. they believe they are wronged.

  12. JPK100

    Pastor Dave, Amen! You speak a truth few others have to courage to speak themselves. Thank you for your wisdom and honesty in your posts about narcissism. The reservation I have from reading comments about identifying personality disorders in the church is that some people in the church scrutinize others’ behavior for “evidence” as to whether they’re “really saved.” (One woman told me I wasn’t “really saved” because I read People magazine! Can you say “legalism”?) There’s a fine line between observing behavior to protect yourself and your church family and raking people over the coals because they don’t conform to your book of rules about being a believer.

  13. Diana

    Matthew 18 – if there is a problem let 2 or 3 go to the abuser and discuss the problem. Therein lies the dilemma…we all know, if you have lived with an ‘N’ long enough, that no one but you is going to see there is a problem. The ‘N’ has honed their skills enough to come across as an all-around nice guy; always helpful and engaging, but distant, cold, and unengaged at home. I am so weary of his hurtful vile comments in private, and then in public he pretends to be the ultimate loving husband. Because his kind acts are only done or spoken of in high visibility situations, it is almost impossible to have allies to help me through my pain and bring his perversion to light. They have all been seduced by his charming stories and unnatural interest in their lives. His over-extending kindness for other’s life problems has left a huge void and loneliness in my life. I feel as though I’m trapped living in a maze with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. For three days I took care of my grandaughter and not once did this grandfather offer to make a meal, run an errand, or read a story. I was exhausted and annoyed at his outward disinterest toward our grandaughter. But his niece called with car problems and to use our home to wash and clean her car and he was overly accommodating; playing the part of the nice uncle.

    Yes, all ASPD and N behaviors should be brought to light, but the difficulty arises in how to do that. Whenever I’ve expressed disappointment with what is happening in my household, everyone comes to the defense of the ‘N’ because all they have seen his fake kindness. He will forever be known as the nice guy and I appear to be the distraught, untrusting wife. How much more will it be difficult to expose those fake behaviors within the church among people who rarely get a glimpse at the N’s secret home life. How refreshing it would be to have someone believe me and say ‘yes, I feel your pain and understand what you have been going through.’ Note to church leaders: listen when your congregation asserts that someone’s behavior is off kilter and recognize that there are probably a wake of people who have been humiliated and tossed aside like decaying garbage by the ASPD / N.

    • unofficialnarcissist

      The “sweet guy” facade is very difficult for your sense of reality is constantly stretch. I wrote about name calling in the context of narcissism here:
      My writing is still awkward and in practice, but perhaps there are a couple of insights you might like.

    • newlyanonymous

      Diana, you have aptly described one of the biggest dilemmas in being married to a narc. I am learning now, however, to speak up anyway. I even resolved that if I had to leave my church because of unbelief re: what I was saying, I would do so but thankfully, two people believe me. They still don’t get narcissism, though, but they’re not doubting what I tell them to be true, in spite of N husband’s appearances. So for now, I stay at home and at our church, but I have changed in that I am not afraid to leave either if I must. I know what I know to be true, and the Lord knows – and that’s enough. And He has provide for you and me and others forums such as Dave’s here and where we can encourage one another and where we here “get it.” I believe the Lord also provides what we need when we need it – with respect to His invaluable gifts of wisdom, strength, and – I hope – even peace and joy. Still waiting for those two, but for now, He has given me wisdom to see through my husband’s deceptions and strength to endure.

      • Diana

        Thank you for those reminders, for it is in the midst of turmoil when I feel alone and long for someone to have a ‘normal’ conversation with that doesn’t involve sarcasm, dishonesty and disdain, when I forget God knows what I’m going through and He sees the emotional abuse.

        I will definitely look into the other site you recommended. I have been in and out of this 30 year marriage a couple of times and it has come full circle again and feels like the pit of hell once more. Next time I leave (when I find a job) will be the last…I finally recognize what he is capable of and his kindness is just a coverup until he gets what he wants. In the meantime, I will seek out other encouraging sites to keep me focused on what is real.

      • newlyanonymous

        Diana, I hear you. I completely understand. Part of the problem I have with my narcissist husband is that he has periods of “being nice.” So it’s tempting to get drawn in and think he’s normal, but I’ve ridden this roller coaster too long to get sucked into the game. (Married 19 years, plus three years dating/living together prior.) He’s nasty to me when no one’s around, but kind and loving when others are present to show “what a great guy.” Something happened last month though that caused me to start journaling what I can remember, especially what’s happening in the present – and more than cathartic; It’s something I gave to two people at church. (Actually, three, but the third – a couple – refused to read it. And it was just a two-page prayer request.) I don’t think they understand narcissism, although one of the people did help me this week when I explained some plans I have about protecting myself and my child at home. She’s been helping me with ideas, even though I only speak to her briefly (5 minutes between dinner and classes, or something like that) at church. I’m learning though that even though I can tell people or journal, ultimately it’s only the LORD and those who have lived it themselves (like here on this blog and the other) who know exactly what I mean if I was to describe what happens. They fully get it. They know the narcissist. Most people don’t. And I don’t really fault them for not getting it if they haven’t lived it, but at the same time, I do get it and I need to take care of me and my daughter. And I need to use the wisdom that the Lord has been gracious to give me to stand firm and protect us as best we can, until He leads otherwise. I’ll remember you in my prayers, Diana, for wisdom of the Lord and for peace. How often that seems to elude, but really, if the Lord is with us, His peace can be too. I need to remind myself daily – hourly – that my job is serving the Lord. If my narc chooses to spin a drama and create a whirlwind around me, I’ll just walk around it because my focus is on Jesus, not my earthly husband. I’ve given way too much attention to the latter and rue the time lost that I could have been spending with and about Jesus and His work for me.

      • newlyanonymous

        Diana, I forgot to tell you that I’m reading a book now on my Kindle that you may appreciate. It’s title is “Love Isn’t Supposed to Hurt,” by Christi Paul. It’s a good read because there’s so much in it that I can relate to, even though my husband hasn’t had the same tactics as her, the strategies are the same: controlling the wife. It helps me because in reading her story, I see myself and feel the strength she feels as she ultimately detaches (she in real life via divorce; me mentally and emotionally though still under the same roof as narc husband) and regains her hope and positive outlook. I used to wake up so sad to be where I am in this world, but as I’m focusing more on the Lord and my place in His Kingdom, I’m not feeling quite so miserable each day. There still can be hope for those of us still at home with the narc. I think that whether we leave or stay, there can be hope for us who are truly in the Lord’s family.

      • Diana

        Thank you. I will add that book to my list. I just purchased the book, “Disarming the Narcissist,” by Wendy Behary. Every morsel that I can get my hands on to maintain my sanity, will help.

        Just a question to anyone out there reading this, do you ever have moments of doubt where you think YOU might be the person suffering from Narcissism? I read some of the characteristics of the spoiled-dependent child in Behary’s book, and I’m thinking that I could be the problem. I find myself so annoyed and agitated with my N husband that I wonder if I’m to blame…not him.

      • newlyanonymous

        Diana, thank you. I don’t think I have Behary’s book. I think I shall get it. In answer to your question (since I’m someone out there reading your comment too 🙂 …. No. I never think that anymore. Initially, early on in our relationship, I tried self-examination with everything for which I was criticized by my husband. I changed my tone. I changed the way I’d approach him. I wouldn’t interfere between him and my daughter if they were in a room and I heard something that I thought wasn’t right. I learned to not question or speak to him – until finally I woke up and realized I have a right to speak my mind in my own home. My tone isn’t bad anymore. I’m very careful about what I say – so careful I’m walking on eggshells. I had stopped saying anything at all that might be viewed by him as criticism or telling him what to do – even if it was to make a note to do something he himself said he’d do (but always forgot – or at least 50 percent of the time forgot). I got tired of always having to be in the shadows and quiet and fearful. So no. Never again. I’m not perfect; I know that. I’m a sinner; I know that too. I make errors and sin against God, but I’m not going to allow my husband to “lord it over me” and cast me into this adjective-ridden (meaning, he’ll describe me in any term he wants – judgmental, condemning, sexually dysfunctional, nagging, dripping faucet, I’ve heard ’em all and then some) person but never tell me the facts or details of what it is exactly that provoked such a portraiture. So no – I can’t now ever go back to questioning myself in this relationship. I’ve detached from him at this point and we have practically zero communication unless on a need-to-know basis (for him, that is; If I need to know, he doesn’t tell me). I don’t go back to that place ever where he’s got me questioning any little thing about myself. I can’t afford to go there, because it gives my abuser too wide a berth to stomp all over me.

      • newlyanonymous

        Diana, On second thought, I won’t get the Behary book. A review on amazon suggests it’s too sympathetic to the narcissist. Have you yet read any of the following? “The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists” and “Why Is It Always About You?” Also “Emotional Blackmail”, “Who’s Pulling Your Strings?”, “When I Say No, I feel Guilty”, and “In Sheep’s Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People” I’ve read three of these (The Wiz of Oz, Why is it always about you, and In Sheeps Clothing) and I can recommend those. The others I haven’t read but perhaps they might benefit you? Read the amazon reviews and see what you think. I find that ordering on a Kindle helps me a lot because my narc husband doesn’t see what I’m reading.I just ordered the sample (free) kindle book for this one: Narcissistic Lovers: How to Cope, Recover and Move On” And once you start research narc books on amazon, you’ll see there are plenty out there these days (thankfully so – although some are better than others).

      • Diana

        newlyanonymous – nope…haven’t read anything else on Narcissism, except this blog, and now the Behary book. But, I have done lots of soul searching, crying and praying…does that count? 🙂 Yes, I did read the reviews that commented on Behary’s generosity toward N’s. I’ll finish it and then move on to some of the other ones you have recommended. If I can alleviate the triggers (if that’s possible) that set him off and understand how to deflect his comments without damaging my personal spirit anymore, I may have reached a little headway and may be able to gain some peace. It’s like spinning a roulette wheel sometimes trying to figure out what works. All I know is that I’m tired of feeling like I’m living in a glass house with a person who holds the biggest and most damaging rocks.

      • newlyanonymous

        Diana, I don’t know you or your husband, but I can say what’s “worked” for me – or at least made life slightly more sane in this asylum that is my home. After our third marital counseling broke down (because he lied in session telling the counselor that ’twas I who put a cat in a kitchen cupboard, when in fact it was he – and then and there decided I couldn’t continue in good faith with counseling) – after that, I made a list.of steps I would take for myself. Perhaps they would work for you for awhile too. (1) Educate myself. I bought just about everything I could book-wise (hard copy or on my Kindle) and read up about narcissism, sociopathy, and surviving it – actually, that’s where I am now, reading from the victim’s point of view about surviving it and life on the other side of it – although I remain in the home for a few different reasons right now, (2) tell a select group of people whom I’m sure I trust and let them know so that I can both vent and tell them what’s going on if I need a shoulder to cry on and also so I have places to which I can flee if need be at a moment’s notice and (3) detach from him emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. That last one is difficult if you share a roof, but it is possible. Frankly, I don’t think we truly ever were connected anyway – as there is zero empathy in him and he doesn’t really care as I did. I just thought he did. So it’s a bit like a death. When I detached (that was two years ago), I resolved to not “invest” in him emotionally. I started not sharing with him things that I used to (which as is turns out is wise because he has very little to use against me if he knows very little of what I’m doing – he doesn’t care anyway really). I started to only tell him what he needs to know (the roof is leaking, etc). And I slowly began to fill my life with interests again like I used to have and just spend time on things for me and for my daughter. It takes time, and I’ve slipped now and again (trusting him when I shouldn’t, but I’m soon reminded why I shouldn’t as he breaches trust within days if not hours), but basically – it’s taking steps to separate even though still under the same room. HTH.

    • You describe exactly what is has been like for me as well, except my situation also included physical violence, sexual abuse, overt spiritual manipulation and abuse to me, and outrageous financial squandering in order to make me feel unsafe and insecure and hopeless. I finally separated and plan to divorce. But we have kids and that makes everything so very hard.

  14. Kitkat

    You will know them by their fruits. Sometimes fruit appears to be perfect, until you flip it over and see the rotten side. We need to scrutinize the fruit more carefully. I don’t know of any churches that deal adequately with this situation. I guess I shall have to keep on looking. Churches shouldn’t be places of chaos and disharmony but they are. There is no accountability for wrongdoing and no discipline when someone victimizes another in the church. It is, “Let’s pretend it all goes away.” or better yet, “Let’s hope the victim/whiner goes away.” and then we won’t have to deal with the problem. And then churches wonder why all the good people leave. Because there is no integrity, only loss. So sad. Makes me anxious for the day when the Lord will sort all of this out. I know we are not to be weary in well doing, but I am tired of this sin sick world and all the Narcissists that go with it. I am tired of all the hurt, I am tired of all the deceit, I am tired of all the lies and backstabbing, and I’m just plain tired. I am grateful for a God who has provided for us through Christ, and I pray for strength for all us to bear what we have to, until He returns for us.

  15. This entry rings so true with me that it has re-ignited some of my deep fears, for my children now.

    I am, today, exactly halfway to the point of being able to divorce my husband, according to our state laws. I am convinced that his has ASPD. I realized the likelihood of it six months ago, and I still see the evidence of it in his relational interaction with me and with others–strangers, people we know, people who I would even consider some of the closer ones (though no one was ever allowed to get very close). It is there and nothing else explains anything like ASPD does.

    But since we separated, he is putting on the Christian man charade more thickly than ever, and only a few close to me believe the truth of all those years. He quotes long passages of scripture on his Facebook and loads up pictures of himself looking like a great dad, a great citizen, he shouts out to anyone who will listen how he took this old person to the hospital, and how he is in the inner circle of knowledge for that one who has cancer and he spreads the “news” about them first. But he gossips and spouts such vile, empty, made-up fictions about anyone else to me when he first meets them, until he sees a way they can be useful to him, and then he turns on a dime to become their best friend.

    It makes me sick. Now, with this article, it makes me afraid. He just got a place of his own and now he wants overnights with the kids. I am not fighting him on anything because I want as much peace between us as possible until everything is legally set. But I am worried about how much time is good for them there. And I am worried about where he will get his fuel for his disorder now that he can no longer power up by crushing me daily. I wish he lived farther away, or we lived farther away. I want a buffer. I don’t have to see him every day, but probably three times a week. It’s too much.

  16. Annie

    A friend who is a Clinical Psychologist recommend I read Dr Phil’s book published in 2012. It is called “Life Code: The New Rules For Winning in the Real World”. Part 1: The Real World “Bad Guys”:
    How To Spot and Defeat Them. Part 2: The New “Life Code” and Rules for Winning in the Real World. Dr Phil starts by using an Anacronym BAITERS. B Backstabbers. A Abusers. I Imposters T Takers. E Exploiters. R Reckless. Dr Phil admits he hadn’t “realised” those consistent patterns across these people and he started to look at it in his office by putting bits about people etc on his office walls over months. Then he saw the patterns. He goes further by giving us Part 2 in which he teaches us how to recognise the traits, how to deal with these people AND how to protect ourselves. It helped me to recognise that if an extremely experienced professional like Dr Phil hadn’t seen it…. As in getting duped himself….then how on earth can we! He is a Christian AND Psychologist. As is my friend and I who both got seriously caught. I am making a promise to myself not to beat myself up, as a professional, for getting caught. That is just how clever they are. This book helps us to get at the truth, forgive ourselves, recognise these men and women in the future, and protect ourselves. I can’t wait to do Part 2. Have ‘scanned’ it but need to do the homework. Take heart everyone. We are all learning about these B.A.I.T.E.R.S. even Dr Phil!! There IS light at the end of the tunnel. No it’s not Dr Phil ….. It’s my true friend and ally Jesus. I need to get back to believing He is my friend. Bless you all.

  17. Cecilia K

    A friend of mine separated from her abusive husband a few months ago, and the immediate response from her church was that she was in sin. The abuse primarily involved a lot of death threats; there was also neglect of intimacy, where he would resort to porn instead. Only when she wrote up a specific list of charges against him (it was a LONG list) did church leadership really confront her husband, and did even bring him before the church members and made them aware of what was going on. I guess because he confessed to the charges against him and expressed a desire to reconcile (and I suppose, to repent), they allowed him to stay at the church, and encouraged my friend to stay as well.

    Some women at the church reached out to her in shock and sympathy, so she was feeling somewhat validated at first, but soon everyone was pushing for her to reconcile with her husband, but she told me that her husband would go back and forth between seeming genuinely sorry one day, to laying guilt trips and blame on her the next, making everything about him, so she was nowhere near convinced that reconciliation was a good idea, but of course, the pastor and other church members thought they knew best.

    One of the elders, at least, seemed to be supportive of her at first, and was going to bat for her with the pastor, rebuking him for not being more understanding of what she was going through. But more recently, she said, he hasn’t been as supportive.

    My friend has stopped attending that church. Thankfully, there was a couple in the church who had experience with what she was going through (not abuse in their own marriage, but a previous marriage, and a mother who had been murdered by her husband), and so they have been a safe place for her; and I am thankful that the Lord can now use my experience to be able to empathize with her as well (not that my experience involved death threats, but at least I am aware that there are people out there who will abuse you, even if you haven’t done anything to deserve it).

    The pastor of the former church still stops by her home unannounced sometimes to give her reading material to help her “come to her spiritual senses”, I guess, but so far, she has been able to avoid him.

    Anyway, she recently shared with me that the sympathetic friend from the church recently confronted that pastor about his pressuring her to reconcile with her abusive husband. When her friend asked what the pastor would do if one of his own daughters was in this situation, the pastor flew off the handle, and warned him to keep his daughters out of it. She said the pastor even cussed at this man! And her friend also asked the pastor why it was okay that his (the pastor’s) wife was divorced from her first husband, but it’s not okay for our friend, and the pastor only continued to rage at him, but never answered the question. This sympathetic friend then informed the pastor that he and his wife would not be coming back to the church.

    I also used to attend this church, but left a couple of years ago. I had never been really happy there, but the final push came after I went to this pastor for help with my tumultuous relationship, and he defended my abuser, instead of me. Although, to be fair, it’s harder to convince someone of maltreatment when there aren’t death threats or physical abuse involved. Nevertheless, I am So glad I left.

    • Cecilia K

      This may be a wrong attitude on my part, but I am so excited that my friend shared with me that even more people have left that church, I think all because of how the pastor has handled my friend’s situation. She told me of three other couples who have left the church since her and her husband’s situation came to light. I should probably mourn that the body of Christ is being torn apart, but I am really just more angry at the pastor/leadership, and excited to see that not Everyone there holds such a hard-line, legalistic stance on this, and that they are appalled enough to leave. I hope that this gives the pastor cause to think about his response/position, and maybe, if the Lord does a work in his heart, he will soften.

      My friend also shared that she learned from one of her friends who is still there (but plans to leave after he gets a major matter settled), that the church recently decided to bring my friend under discipline for filing for divorce. And when she and I talked recently, I said, “I wonder if any other women in the church are in this situation,” and she said that one lady had shared with her that her husband is also abusive, but the pastor counseled her to stay with him (and she did). I figured out who it was when my friend said this couple’s children had been taken away. A while back, their oldest daughter accused the father of having sexually abused her, and then some time later, confessed to having made it up. While I was still attending off and on, she was made out to just be an awful, rebellious daughter who was just tired of being under her parents’ control. I always thought her accusation seemed really extreme for just being tired of being controlled by her parents. Now, it all makes sense. Of course, to be fair, I don’t know if the pastor knew, at that time, about the husband’s abuse, but based on how casually he has taken my friend’s husband’s abusive behavior, I wouldn’t be surprised if he knew about this other man’s behavior, and swept it under the rug.

    • Cecilia K

      Also, the Lord has now made more concrete for me, that nebulous feeling of not belonging there, when He led me out. At the time, I wasn’t really sure if I was responding to His voice, or just my own heart/feelings. I just knew, I had never felt at home there; and the push I needed came when that pastor defended my abuser when I went to him for help. Still, I didn’t have a clear reason why I had never felt at home there (for about seven years, give or take).

      Not too long after I left, the word “oppression” came to my mind, as to why I didn’t feel at home, It became a little more clear—there seemed to be a spirit of oppression there—but it was still fuzzy, because I hadn’t seen any outright, blatant examples of oppression (I couldn’t see the oppression in my own experience with the pastor, because I thought he was probably right, and I just needed to accept it…but I just couldn’t). Still, it seemed to hang over that congregation like a thick haze of fog. And now, the fog has lifted. I can see clearly now the oppression that this pastor exercises over his female congregants…well, and even over his male congregants, to some degree, as I think many have/had been afraid to stand up to him. And now, I feel more at peace that I was responding to the Lord’s voice when I left. He’d been trying to get through to me for a long time.

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