Blog Post by Sister Diane Foster
Spiritual Abuse and Narcissism: A Biblical Perspective
With all that has gone forth, this article comes to its purpose. Some of you have heard of the term/word Narcissism.
We all have narcissistic tendencies. Sometimes, we desire more than our share, expect more than we should receive, and behave selfishly towards others. But these do not make one a narcissist. Continuing with 2 Timothy 3, verses 2-6 tell us more about the spirit of Narcissism: For men shall be lovers of their selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of Yahuah, having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
When uncontrolled, narcissism becomes a deadly, evil force. Many do not understand, consider, or comprehend narcissism. They do not equate narcissism to the ways of the flesh described biblically. As a result, many Believers cast it off simply as bad behavior. An inordinate narcissistic personality seems to be the character of spiritual abusers.
Proud, Haughty, Scoffer, are his names, who acts with insolent pride. – Proverbs 21:24
More on this shortly.
Written non-biblically narcissism is a Personality Disorder defined by the American Psychiatric Association as:
Narcissistic personality disorder (NP
In a shortened version, narcissism equals insolent pride.
D) is a personality disorder with a long-term pattern of abnormal behavior characterized by exaggerated feelings of self-importance, an excessive need for admiration, and a lack of empathy. People affected by it often spend a lot of time thinking about achieving power, success, or their appearance. (DSM-5 301.81).
Narcissism is a self-centered personality style characterized as having an excessive interest in one’s physical appearance and an excessive preoccupation with one’s own needs, often at the expense of others. It is human nature for people to be selfish, and narcissism exists on a spectrum that ranges from normal to abnormal personality expression.
The explicit word definition of “narcissist” is not in the Bible. Sigmund Freud adopted it from the mythological god Narcissus into his psychological theories and analysis. He coined the term narcissist in 1914 to denote a person’s attitude. The Bible has a lot to say about a person’s attitude. It speaks of the ways of the flesh, such as deceit, envy, insolence, and pride. Narcissism is a sin that goes against the teachings of Torah, thus Yahuah.
“While there is a degree of common ground between the secular and Biblical approaches to narcissism – mostly in the description of narcissists and how they behave, i.e., narcissistic traits – the approaches diverge substantially in the areas of root causes, such as [suppressing the truth-emphasis mine].” (The First Will be Last: A Biblical Perspective on Narcissism, D C Robertson)
Romans 1:18 reads that the wrath of Yah is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness. The Greek term for unrighteousness is “adikia,” which means “not,” “right,” “not,” and “justice.” Effectively, they are suppressing the truth in their attempt to go against, or opposite of, that truth. But what truth do they suppress? They suppress the ultimate truth and knowledge of God/Yahuah Himself (Genesis 3: 14, John 8: 58, Revelation 1: 8) (The First Will be Last: A Biblical Perspective on Narcissism, D C Robertson)
One of the differences between the secular and Biblical approaches is that the secular psych world is “outside in” – observing characteristics, grouping them, and then labeling them – whereas the Biblical approach is “inside out.” God/Yahuah alone knows the heart and character of a narcissistic person. He gives the person with that kind of heart a name and then describes that type of person and the damage they leave in their wake in cascading detail.” (The First Will be Last: A Biblical Perspective on Narcissism, D C Robertson)
The witness to the above statements is in 1 Samuel 16:7: “…for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”
PRIDEFUL HAUGHTY SCOFFERS
A classic example of a prideful, haughty, scoffer style comes from the words of our Messiah.
But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. Matthew 23:13-15
Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. 2 Timothy 3:8
Both of these examples relate to men of unrighteousness. They are not exemplary in behavior and are unsuitable to deal with others justly.
How do people become entrapped?
Not to take away from the purpose of this post, where the goal is to begin identifying the spiritual abuser, there are a few more areas of consideration. This article can say much more concerning the spiritual abuser and SA. This series continues with how to identify such a one as this. However, for now, it will look at how spiritual abuse happens in the first place.
The Psychology of Entrapment
(Behavior, Information, Thought, Emotion)
Remember that psychology is no more than the study of the mind. There are those who make a science of controlling the minds of others. HaSatan is crafty. He seeks (to pursue, search, hunt, and look for his victims). Scripture teaches us to guard our hearts. Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life. (Proverbs 4:23). First comes the thought, then the heart follows. And the peace of Yahuah, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through the Messiah Yahushua. (Philippians 4:7)
Behavior. This category explores how manipulative groups regulate and dominate their members’ actions and behaviors through strict rules, rewards, and punishments, limiting individual autonomy.
Information. Examining the tactics of manipulative organizations to control information flow through censorship and propaganda, restricting members’ access to outside perspectives.
Thought. Focuses on psychological techniques used by such groups to shape beliefs and attitudes, suppressing critical thinking and promoting conformity.
Emotion. Explores how manipulative organizations manipulate emotions, fostering dependency and loyalty through love-bombing, guilt, and fear-based indoctrination. (https://freedomofmind.com/bite-model/) Steven Hassan
No additional explanation is necessary for each term (behavior, information, thought, and emotion) connects to SA. Behaviors are regulated, there are restrictions to outside perspectives, and psychological tricks are used to shape beliefs (“surely you will not die”) and emotions. I particularly like fostering dependency and loyalty through love-bombing (a form of psychological manipulation and emotional abuse involving a person going above and beyond to draw you into a relationship with them). A man feeling deprived of manhood and independence receives a position of power. A woman who feels vulnerable and lacks security or support receives shelter, love, and companionship. Love bombing is a fertile ground of persuasion for these common vulnerabilities.
What Draws a Person to These Camps and Organizations?
How do the tender hearts of Yah’s children become entrapped? What draws them? Many of these people are vulnerable. Some drawn into these communities are searching for a sense of identity. Some want to feel accepted or loved. Some lack validation. It does not take much for them to place themselves under the wings of authoritative types who legitimize them as a person with value. These wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15) give them a false sense of security as they stroke their egos and offer them a place of order and structure. Many are drug addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes, or people on the streets seeking a way to escape the ravages of their conditions. Many have no family to which they feel they belong. Some have no biblical training, and the wolves exploit their ignorance.
For example, Matthew 16:24 reads:
Then said Yahusha unto his disciples, If any will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.
A thief hunting innocent prey could use this verse to cause the innocent to give up everything they have to follow this leadership. In this example, Yahusha’s disciples turn their will over to Him because they desire to be His disciples and live as He lives. A soul tired of fruitless living, a man unable to find employment, a single mother, a couple lost in their spiritual direction, a marital or relational breakup, a job loss, or illness become targets. Anyone vulnerable is subject to an inability to think critically. These are the weak who leave everything behind: jobs, family, and familiar surroundings to become a part of a group they feel offers them an authentic spiritual life. Some wanting healing from childhood trauma and abuse of various kinds find themselves entrapped again. Just as the disciples turned their will to Yahusha, new converts turned their will to false leadership.
SA is a form of spiritual warfare. It is a war fought against those emotionally weak, financially unstable, and spiritually ignorant. Most are seeking a life grounded in Yahuah. They seek truth. In the process, they get caught in the snares of unrighteousness led by those seeking self-gain.
One way to combat spiritual abuse is through information dissemination. This is what this series is doing. As this series moves along, it is seeking people who have been victims of spiritual abuse or know someone who has. Spiritual abuse knows no boundaries. All religions and spiritual institutions are affected by it because Satan has no respect for persons. Because the readership of Compassionate Soul Care Ministry’s P.U.R.P.O.S.E. newsletter and Blog are mainly Torah Observant, we would like to understand more from your eyes your experience of being entrapped by those who said they were Torah Observant but were not.
Below is a link to a survey to help others better understand SA. Please, if the Ruach haQodesh leads you, take a few minutes to complete this survey. Your input may have a life-changing effect on someone else.
All participants are kept confidential. We do not ask for your name or the name(s) of groups or individuals you have associated with. As a matter of procedure, we ask that you do not include any names.
Both male and female participants are welcome.
For a fuller explanation of narcissism see my article “Narcissism-the-Signs-and-Sins