You can sense that something is not right with our kids, and even with the adults. Something really serious is going on that doesn’t reflect the love of Christ in the holiness of God. Our good Christian friends Mike & Sure Dowgiewicz have hit the nail on the head in this searing article of vast importance.
Other pagan authors have been writing on this for the last few years. But the church’s teachers and preachers are mostly silent…again. May we all engage this demonic behavior in the church and in our families. This is also running rampant in my own Christian family both direct and extended. What will happen when our faith actually is tested with simple hunger, or even torture? Will we cave? Yes. We must preach and live the true truth.
Confronting “Christian” Narcissism
By Mike & Sue Dowgiewicz
Narcissism is a term you may vaguely be familiar with. The term comes from an ancient myth in which a young man becomes so infatuated with a poolside reflection of himself that he falls into the water and drowns. Excessively absorbed in self-interest and self-fulfillment, a narcissist has relatively little concern for the feelings or needs of others.
Enmeshed by a deceived self-appraisal, he or she craves admiration. Fueled by deep insecurity and rejection, narcissism is the means to both cope with the world around them and feed their own self-esteem without fear of criticism.
Today’s families are fragmented relationally and geographically. Past generations were given balanced perceptions of their character and accomplishments through regular contact with grandparents, aunts and uncles who weren’t afraid to address selfishness and wrong focus. Not so now! Add to this the peer dependence and identity that’s based on worldly cultural values and goals.
What has finally ensured the unrelenting impact of narcissism is something the “prince of the power of the air(waves)” (Ephesians 2:2) relishes: ever-proliferating varieties of electronic communication and technology that offer “counterfeit relationships.”
How do these devices and systems encourage narcissism particularly in ways not experienced by people born prior to the 1980s? If you can electronically talk about yourself with others without any personal interaction, you can live a lie. Social networking permits you to portray yourself in a light that gains you attention and provides vicarious contact that makes you feel good about yourself. Facebook and YouTube, for instance, allow you to present only what you want others to know about you.
You are limiting and controlling information about yourself so that others are denied the full picture of your character and life. This selective revelation feeds narcissism and effectively shuts the door on any correction or rebuke or training in righteousness that would help equip you to walk in loving, obedient service to Jesus. (See 2Timothy 3:16,17.)
When you selectively pass along personal facts and information in a non-face to face environment, you may feel a vicarious sense of belonging. But it’s a counterfeit experience that might be called relational fornication. Fornicating brings sexual pleasure without the relational responsibility of marriage. God designed sexual intimacy to bond together a husband and wife in a permanent, one-man/one-woman union.
Yet those who fornicate squander that intimacy and face a far greater prospect for divorce than those who’ve abided by God’s way. Violation of relational responsibility through fornication that’s not repented of shuts the door to the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9,10). It’s so serious that followers of Jesus are warned to stay away from self-proclaimed Christians who practice immorality (1 Corinthians 5:11).
So how does the selective focus of narcissism relate to relational fornication? Each of us has a certain limited capacity to meet the emotional needs of those in our inner relational arena, such as our family and faith family. That’s where we need to place our primary emotional effort: on how to reflect the love of Jesus to those close to us who need that intimate expression and will be built up body, soul and spirit by it.
People who fritter away their time and energy on impersonal, electronic communication which just exchanges factual information or entertains them fail to realize that they’re robbing the emotional support and interpersonal time those close to them have a right to.
What Does Your Face Say to Others?
When we began to follow Jesus as our Lord in the 1970s we became aware of the habitual blank expression on the faces of many people around us — a facial expression devoid of emotional affirmation or encouragement. It’s as though they lived within the confines of their own brain, isolated from the need of others to interact from the heart. Perhaps you’ve noticed such “emotionless” faces yourself, especially among the younger generation. They pass by you as if you didn’t exist — and to them, you don’t!
We’ve seen fewer and fewer younger married couples smile at each other when an affectionate twinkle was appropriate. It seems that the desire for personal “me” space has taken over any sense of “we” in contemporary marriage, and is reflected by blank stares toward one another.
Sadly, younger parents today are so overwhelmed by busyness and multi-tasking that their facial expressions are blank even toward their children. Those same young children who once smiled when they saw their parents have learned to withhold a joyful greeting, mimicking the expressionless preoccupation of their parent(s) with other things.
Now you can see where social networking and communication technology team up to further tear apart the emotional bonding of families. How many frazzled, lonely mothers occupy themselves on the cell phone while their children seated behind them in the car are “put on hold” with DVDs or electronic games? Consider that this dependence on impersonal communication that’s devoid of personal responsibility is one of the reasons many mothers have become increasingly impatient with their children, even outsourcing them to day care so moms can tend to their own needs and duties first.
Children today are hearing far more angry, irritated “No’s” than in generations past from mothers who can’t live without electronic contact with others. The child becomes immune to the raised voice and continues to pursue his own will, recognizing that his mother is not going to stop what she’s doing to follow through with her threats. Misbehavior and rebellion become intertwined with his sin nature, to the agitated dismay of the parents.
Yet the parents are blind to the consequences of their neglect. Among other things, parental impatience doesn’t allow time for the appropriate trial and error children need so they can take ownership of the values they’ll live by. With no discussion or follow through, the child leans toward his own understanding, which is of course insufficient and self-willed. Perceiving a lack of love, the child begins to resist his or her parents through any means possible.
One of the contributors to the rise of many childhood disorders today, including obesity, can be traced back to narcissistic parents — fathers and mothers who are far more focused on their own self-esteem and worldly interests and achievements than on their biblical responsibility to their children. This is narcissism! Parenting, even among many Christians, has become a “painful inconvenience.”
The Rise of Narcissism: The Fruit of Demeaning The Old And Refusing To Confront The Young
Satan’s ever-increasing influence and control over contemporary Christianity in the US is evidenced by a poll taken by George Barna. The Christian pollster discovered to his sorrow that in each of 150 lifestyle areas, including divorce and abortion, ‘Christians are no different than the society around them.’ Are there factors that have enabled Satan to exercise such influence within Christendom? Yes, especially the demise of godly authority and influence of older people.
Satan has pinpointed a strategy guaranteed to undermine the vital role and influence of the older and wiser in our homes and faith communities. He has infiltrated much of westernized Christendom by mingling biblical truth with manmade doctrines that lure and deceive churchgoers.
Religious practices and teachings focus on and perpetuate personal ease, entertainment and self-fulfillment. But self-focused “Christendom” has lost its salt. In its impudence of claiming to represent a holy God yet denying His Word through worldly compromise, it is not worthy of a dung heap (see Matthew 5:13). The need for men and women of years and wisdom who are mighty in the Lord has never been greater.
We Can Learn From The Bull Elephant
A television broadcast on Dateline several years ago remarkably illustrated the devastation that’s caused when mature influence and guidance are absent even in the animal world. In Africa the National Park Service was faced with a ruinous overpopulation of elephants. To keep the animals from plundering valuable crops and defoliating the land, the naturalists killed all the adult male elephants, preserving only the young. As these youngsters matured, the male calves in particular grew violent, attacking and killing people. Their fierce and fearless behavior was totally abnormal. It was as though the restraint common to elephants had vanished or had never even developed.
When the naturalists discovered the havoc being caused by these young rogues, they issued a “rap sheet” to identify those with aggressive behavior. When an individual elephant accumulated too many points against his behavior, he was destroyed. But that didn’t solve the underlying problem.
The naturalists realized that young male elephants have such high testosterone levels that they require the restraining behavior of older males to keep them in control. In essence, the older males taught them a pecking order of deference. Desperate to restore order to this unruly community of young males, the naturalists brought in adult males to establish deference. More orderly behavior was restored.
People too need personal involvement and intervention, and especially correction by the older and wiser in order to pass along the skills necessary for offspring to mature successfully. God has designed each generation to depend on preceding ones for lessons of wisdom if they are to succeed. To neglect this essential interaction is to bring about the relational disregard and narcissism so evident today.
“There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)
The apostle could have been writing today’s headlines! The critical role of the older and wiser “bulls” has been drastically undermined in western society. This downward slide began to speed up 80 years ago when the National Education Association signed the Humanist Manifesto. The role of male influence has so diminished that in the late 1980s the NEA deemed public education in this nation “a totally effeminate institution.”
A study of Christianity about that same period deemed it “totally effeminate” as well as far as its approach to learning and its incorporation of cultural trends into doctrine and practice. Why did this takeover happen so quickly? Because older people failed to live up to their biblical responsibilities as THE source of applied wisdom and correction for the next generation.
In 2 Timothy 3:1-5, above, God has clearly defined what these last days look like. You can be fatalistic and sadly shrug that He said it would be like this. Or, you can gird yourself through His Spirit to stand up and say, “NOT MY FAMILY!” It’s time for you “older bulls” to take a stand for God and His Word! You won’t want to face our holy Lord at the Judgment Throne with a testimony of cowardice and irresponsible excuses!
Your lax uninvolvement to biblically guide and confront the younger generations has produced the self-centeredness of this nation! You outsourced to public education and to religious institutions your family responsibilities. Now is the time to repent and take up your rightful place in leading your families, both biological and/or spiritual, in the pattern of Abraham’s obedient trust.
We know that many of you who’ve been passive about your responsibility in the past are fearful that your kids might keep your grandchildren from you if you take up your role of spiritual leadership. If your children attempt to use your grandchildren as pawns, confront them in love that they are sinning, hurting both you, themselves and their children (Matthew 18:15). If they don’t respond, find out if they’re willing to discuss this with you and with someone else you both trust (Matthew 18:16).
You may ultimately find that the loving thing to do is to turn your resistant adult children over to Satan, “so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and their spirit saved on the day of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 5:5). Watch how our holy and loving God intervenes when they disrespect the scriptural role He has given you. He purposes for them to repent and be restored in fellowship with Him and with you!
Don’t let your grown children keep you from enacting your God-given role. Your fear of them will make matters worse for your grandchildren as they miss out on their opportunity to drink from the well of truth God has given you. Instead, their parents have dug their own polluted, self-willed pit. It’s no wonder Proverbs proclaims, “Children’s children are a crown to the aged…” (Proverbs 17:6a.) Your grandchildren, not your children, are your crown! For their sake, get involved and provide the biblical direction and correction your children still need so that their children will learn about Jesus and His Word.
Keep this truth at the forefront of your motives toward your children and grandchildren: “There is NO fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear… The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1John 4:18). Insofar as the impact you can have as an instrument in the Spirit’s hands for your family, walk in it! Picture you and your entire family welcomed by the King of kings in heaven. Isn’t that a high enough purpose for you to reach the hearts of your children and grandchildren?
Take a look at the expressions on the faces of those in your family. If there isn’t a readiness to smile at each other, find out why. If spouses don’t readily look at each other with the affection the love of Jesus would produce, find out why. If your grandchildren continuously contend with their parents or with you, find out why.
We’ve never met a mature man in Christ who hasn’t had an older man who confronted him, a man whose respect the younger one did not want to lose. Take your son-in-law under your wing and treat him like a son. Don’t allow toxic memories of his own dad’s shortcomings to soil the relationship you know he needs with you.
If you’re an older woman, fulfill with joy your Titus 2:3-5 responsibilities and privileges with the younger women in your relational sphere. EVERY older woman should pray for and seek to establish a relationship like that between Naomi and Ruth with at least one younger woman. Don’t overlook your daughter and daughter-in-law; they need to learn from your failures as well as your victories, and that takes intentional time and effort and love!
If you are a GRANDfather or GRANDmother, live it!
Mike & Sue
Restoration Ministries International
From a pagan author, but very cryptic:
Celebrity narcissism: A bad reflection for kids
By Sharon Jayson, USA TODAY
“I’m saying parents themselves have become narcissists, along with the rest of the population.”
The USA’s celebrity-obsessed culture is causing us to become more narcissistic, says behavior expert and physician Drew Pinsky, co-author of The Mirror Effect: How Celebrity Narcissism Is Seducing America. It may be especially dangerous for young people, who view celebrities as role models, say co-authors Pinsky (an internist better known on TV and radio as Dr. Drew) and S. Mark Young, a social scientist. Pinsky speaks with USA TODAY:
Q: Let’s begin with the title. What do you mean by the “mirror effect,” and why do you say it’s a problem?
A: I’ve been working with celebrities many, many years. I’ve treated many for chemical dependency and the like. They have profound childhood trauma. It’s not something to do with their job or the life they lead. They just happen to be people driven to seek celebrity as a way to make themselves feel better. Then the question becomes, why are we preoccupied with this population? This points toward the mirror. We, too, have been increasingly narcissistic. I speculate that that’s what drives us toward this phenomenon of elevating people to almost god-like status. It’s not so much that it’s the glamour we like focusing on — rather it’s the dysfunction. We’re taking someone who needs to be a god and making them a god. Then we spend all our energy tearing them down.
Q: Is there a difference between a narcissist and someone who has a true disorder?
A: Narcissism is a continuum of traits. There is a point at which it crosses into disorder. The traits are far more common. The disorder is relatively uncommon.
Q: But isn’t it healthy to have a strong ego?
A: To feel good about oneself and want to see our reflected glory in another person’s eyes is not negative. There’s a creative energy that is very positive. But when it gets out of control, such as losing empathy or acting out and not reflecting upon dysfunctional behavior, that’s when we have concerns.
Q: Your academic study, published in 2006 in the Journal of Research in Personality, found that celebrities, especially female celebrities, are significantly more narcissistic than the general population. You also suggest celebrities may have narcissistic tendencies prior to becoming stars.
A: Anna Nicole Smith — she’s a poster child for this phenomenon, a very severe case. She was a severe trauma survivor, an opiate addict. She left the country to act out her addiction.
Q: Let’s go back for a minute to this idea of our culture promoting this focus on celebrities. What’s so harmful about focusing on celebrities?
A: We should be concerned. It’s anathema to what’s healthy for humans — interpersonal experiences and being of service — as opposed to preoccupying oneself with extreme, chaotic, dysfunctional behavior and modeling those behaviors and wishing to be part of that and never experiencing a stable family life and not being able to trust other people or themselves. For those who say “It’s just fun,” why are you motivated to look at those people? Why gravitate to watching their troubles and their pathology? That’s not OK. You feel better about your life with their misery. That’s not what I call an admirable impulse.
Q: Why do you say teens and young adults are most vulnerable?
A: They are the sponges of our culture. Their values are now being set. Are they really the values we want our young people to be absorbing? Do we want them to have a revolving-door love life, or stable relationships? It harkens back to the question of how much are young people affected by models of social learning. Humans are the only animals who learn by watching other humans. Why don’t we examine human reality here? Why don’t we have that conversation and use it as an opportunity to look at the behavior of people and say “What is it really about? What can we learn and avoid that kind of behavior?” If parents don’t intervene, that’s where kids go.
Q: What can parents do to protect their kids from narcissistic tendencies?
A: Narcissism has eroded into parenting styles. We, as narcissists, try to parent experiencing the child as an emotional extension of ourselves. We can’t tolerate pain for the child — allowing them to be frustrated and to fail. We want to give our kids everything. I’m saying parents themselves have become narcissists, along with the rest of the population.
Q: While your book bemoans the state of our society, which can’t seem to get enough of celebrities and their outrageous behavior, doesn’t your participation on the VH1 reality show Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew actually reinforce that obsession?
A: We unveil all the traumas and reveal what’s going on with these people. We pull the curtain back and show you who these human beings are and where there is real suffering. It’s a bait and switch. We’re using the celebrity draw and trying it on people to show the reality. The celebrities have all been very pleased to be part of it because they want be an inspiration to other people.
Saints, we’re one day closer to Home, and Him! Love Him wholeheartedly!
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