What is narcissism? What is religion? Both words conjure up different images in each individual’s mind. To one “religion” brings up an image of a church building, to another it brings up a picture of a religious authority figure such as a priest or nun. The word “narcissism” does the same thing. One thinks of a narcissist they know, another thinks of a fawning cartoon figure looking at themselves in a mirror. For the sake of this article lets think about both terms as “a way of thinking” or attitude. The bible would use phrases for attitudes as strongholds, spirits, and imaginations.
I have dealt with narcissists for many many years. And for me the narcissist was always couched in romantic relationship terms. As time went on I began to recognize it as a way of thinking that had infected our culture. In short let me use a few limited list to describe what I am talking about:
- the need to control/manipulate
- the feeling of being entitled to service
- the need to devalue another
- the need for “supply” or validation
- the lack of empathy
- exaggerated sense of self-importance
This is by no means an exhaustive list, the DSM of psychology actually lists 9 traits.
Now lets consider the word “religion.” As a child growing up the word religion was considered a “good” word. Conjuring up imaginations of church buildings, Sunday school classes and potluck dinners. Basically a word for community was my childhood experience. In growing up, of course, I learned of all the atrocities committed in the name of “religion” and I began to realize it is not really what I experienced as a child but something that looked more like that list I posted above. And “religion” wears many names, it calls itself Catholicism, Judaism, Islamic, and Evangelical.
In any sense of the word, narcissism is abuse and any religion that resembles that list above is abusive. Run, I say Run. Just like anyone would advise an friend in an abusive relationship to flee I tell you to flee for in this context religion is narcissism. Now, I am not saying run from God but rather to God, for God is no where to be found in that list.