This morning I woke up to an email from Chump Lady. She sent me an insightful comment made on her blog post “Quit Waiting for an Apology.“
Here is what Nyra, who left the comment, wrote:
Christians are easy targets for narcissistic people to manipulate & gaslight:Christians are to forgive someone 70×70 times therefore…God is the god of second chances therefore..Christians are to demonstrate God’s grace therefore…Christians are not to judge others..They see the church as another entitlement program:God loves me therefore…God forgives me therefore…Everyone sins therefore…To narcisst [sic] forgiveness, grace and mercy means that they are off the hook – no repentance necessary. Its [sic] up to others to forgive and therefore be happy for them because they have been saved from their sins & forgiven. They are now freed from the burden of taking any responsibility for the pain and sufferings they’ve inflicted upon others.If others feel hurt or go NC [No Contact] it is because they are guilty of being bitter and full of unforgiveness
Before we start digesting what Nyra shared, I want to first state my agreement with her that Christian communities too often provide “safe haven” for narcissistic cheaters and their abusive practices.
It is a pastoral failure, IMO, that Christian communities enable and “protect” such cheaters from facing their sins, the consequences, and truly repenting.
Consider this post as a remedial tutorial on sound practical theology regarding the ideas often abused by narcissists to avoid taking responsibility for their sins and repenting.
Christians are to forgive someone 70×70 times therefore…
True. However, forgiveness does not erase all the consequences of the sin.
For example, forgiving someone for committing murder does not bring the victim back to life. We can forgive someone and still allow them to face the natural consequences for their actions–e.g. jail time for committing a crime.
God is the god of second chances therefore..
And God is the God of fiery judgment for those who continue sinning refusing to repent (see Hebrews 10:26-27).
The person only sees God as the One who gives second chances is believing in a false god. Yes, God gives second chances. But the One True God also expects repentance and the forsaking of sin for those He calls His own.
Christians are to demonstrate God’s grace therefore…Christians are not to judge others..
Actually, Christians ARE to judge fellow Christians. The Apostle Paul is crystal clear on that matter when he wrote to the Corinthian church:
What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”-I Corinthians 5:12-13, NIV
In fact, as you can see from this passage and verses earlier in the same chapter, Christians are especially to judge those claiming to be Christian who are caught in unrepentant wickedness.
To be clear: unrepentant cheating qualifies as judge-worthy wickedness.
As to God’s grace, we do not experience this grace unless we repent of our sins (e.g. Luke 17:3, Acts 2:37-38, I John 1:9, etc.). Grace is not applicable in a situation where repentance is not present.
They [narcissistic cheaters] see the church as another entitlement program:God loves me therefore…God forgives me therefore…Everyone sins therefore…
Let’s take each point by point:
God loves me therefore…
God also loves the victims of your sin. That means He cannot simply ignore the suffering caused by you willfully sinning against your faithful partner(s).
God forgives me therefore…
Actually, God doesn’t forgive you. And He will damn your soul to Hell unless you repent (see Hebrews 10:26-27).
Everyone sins therefore…
True (see Romans 3:23). But not everyone is saved from damnation (see Matthew 25:31ff). Salvation is reserved for those who repent of their sins and turn to God (see Acts 2:37-38).
To narcisst [sic] forgiveness, grace and mercy means that they are off the hook – no repentance necessary. Its [sic] up to others to forgive and therefore be happy for them because they have been saved from their sins & forgiven. They are now freed from the burden of taking any responsibility for the pain and sufferings they’ve inflicted upon others.
A faithful Christian leader will never let this line of thinking go unchallenged.
The problem is that the narcissistic cheater is making false assumptions:
1. He or she is assuming that repentance is unnecessary for forgiveness when it is essential!
2. He or she is assuming that they are saved from their sins when the Bible is clear that they are destined to Hell fire if they do not stop sinning (see Hebrews 10:26-27).
If others feel hurt or go NC [No Contact] it is because they are guilty of being bitter and full of unforgiveness
Actually, going “No Contact” is precisely what the Bible tells us to do–i.e. refuse to eat with them–when confronted with a person claiming to be a Christian and refusing to repent of their sexually immoral ways (see I Corinthians 5).
As to the bitterness charge…
Expressing pain is not the same thing as being bitter.
Anyone with even a most basic understanding of emotions can grasp this concept.
For example, a person shouting in pain when I stomp on their toes is not bitter. They are in pain.
The appropriate response to such a situation is for me to stop stomping on their toes and apologize; NOT call them bitter for shouting out in pain!
The same concept applies here in dealing with narcissistic cheaters. They are misdiagnosing the problem. A wise pastor will not give them a pass on that.
The issue is not bitterness here but rather great emotional and spiritual pain caused by the cheater actively sinning–i.e. stomping–on the faithful spouse’s heart.
It is sad that this tutorial was even necessary. But it was and is! Nyra is correct that the current state of Christian communities is one that enables and protects narcissistic cheaters this way.
As long as the church operates with such partial truths and false teachings, the church will remain to be a welcoming place for narcissistic abusers.
Let’s join forces and change that armed with the truth: