Avoid Such People

The verse that has been coming into my mind for the past couple of months, regarding my narcissist husband and the crisis it has brought our family to, is the one that says, “In the last days, men will be lovers of themselves…” I’ve been taking a little comfort in the fact that this terrible upswing in narcissism was predicted in the Bible, so while it has taken many of us by surprise, it’s no surprise to the Lord.

But on the plane on my way home from the Philippines, I suddenly remembered there’s more in that passage.  I remembered it saying something about people “having a form of godliness” that wasn’t authentic.  So I finally looked it up (and yes, why didn’t I look this up the first time that verse hit my brain, but you know, holidays and deadlines…)

It turns out it’s in 2 Timothy 3:1-9. The full passage is quite long, and the parts that I had stuck in my head are actually a few verses apart.

Here’s what the first few verses say (For brevity’s sake here I have edited out the long list of ungodly behavior between the two verses because it didn’t apply directly to my situation, but it is worth a read in full):

[2Ti 3:1-9 ESV] 1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self…5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.

The reason this really hit me was something a Filipino friend said to me. I had shared with her what was going on at home and why, and her immediate take on it was, “He’s obviously not really a Christian.  How could he be a Christian and act that way?” This outlook may be a little black and white or oversimplified, but on the other hand, she has a point.  So when I got to the part about “the appearance of godliness” and saw that it continued with “but denying its power,” it really hit home.  Especially when I looked down to verse 7, where it says, “always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.”

Because that is a perfect description of the religion my husband practices – appearing to be correct but never really seeming to help him where he needs help.  He’s happy to accept God’s provision, but afraid to step out in faith.  He gives only what he is comfortable giving in time and money.  And despite the amount of time he has put in at church, he still doesn’t grasp basic truths about God – not on a heart level, anyway.

Not that I want to bash my husband here, but I needed to describe that to show how well it describes his life.  It’s been right there in the Scripture all along and I hadn’t realized it.

What really struck me, though, was when I continued reading:

“Avoid such people.” (2 Tim. 3:5b)

Okay.  That made me pause for a good minute or two. I mean, think about that.  It’s not subtle.  It just says not to get involved with people like that.

This also happens to be the standard reaction those in the know about narcissism in the secular world recommend.  “Don’t try to fix them.  Just get away.”

So where does THAT all leave me?

Okay, I’m just going to say it – Despite the current Christian culture of “saving the marriage at all costs,” based on a couple of other verses in the Bible, THIS verse seems to be saying that when people have given themselves over to these behaviors (and there’s a whole list of them, remember, that I edited out for this post, so it’s not just narcissism), the best course of action is to NOT BE INVOLVED with them.

I mean, if that tweaks your theology, you’re in good company.  This whole experience has been tweaking mine.  I just keep coming back to the Bible and trying to read it for what it says rather than the ideas Christian culture has superimposed over it.  When you grow up in a culture, it’s sometimes hard to separate facts from cultural attitudes, because you’ve never heard the facts taught without the attitude attached.

And yes, I cannot base my behavior on this one verse, obviously.  There’s a whole litany of mercy and grace and forgiveness that needs to come into play here. But no matter how merciful, gracious and forgiving I am, I do not need to check my brain at the door.  I still need to face up to the reality that when someone is living a lifestyle like the one described in these verses, the prudent thing to do is avoid partaking in it.

I found some comfort in the last verse of this section:

 9 But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all… (2 Tim 3:9)

This has been my prayer for the last six months to a year – “Lord, let the truth be seen.” It has taken time, largely because of my own habit of covering things up to keep the peace, but the more I tell the truth and step back and let the chips fall where they may, the more the folly is becoming plain to all.

Except to him.  He’s still not seeing it.

It is my fervent prayer that he eventually will, because if he does that, then he can take it to the Lord and surrender it, and if the does THAT, then the sky’s the limit and God can do a miracle that will be worth talking about.

If.

Because there’s still that old free will involved.

So for now, I’m going to stick to avoiding such people.

 

2 thoughts on “Avoid Such People

Add yours

  1. There are so many directions, in the Bible or from ‘out there’. But the main one is the direction from your heart. You want to forgive, you want to help and you can do that…but somewhere along the line you can feel that you have done all you can. And then the hard part begins, the actual step back because you realise it is eventually up to them.
    And the pain of that step is built with love because it asks the one thing we avoid down here, to look at ourselves and see and feel why it is so painful and in understanding it we will also do the other thing we avoid down here…to love ourselves. Only then will we begin to give from a true love and not the love that has always been blocked by those fears in our lives 😀
    Good luck, God is sitting inside your heart cheering you on, where that unconditional love is chained behind those walls we build…and waiting to be set free ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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