Possible Paths To Codependency

How does someone become “codependent”, a “slave of man”, subsumed to someone else?
      • Was he born that way?
      • Did it start in childhood?
      • Did it appear later in life?
For codependency to take place, two people are involved – the codependent, and the one who causes or allows the codependency – let’s call him/her the controller. Although not always the case, the controller could be a person with insolent pride – the narcissist – who seeks to have others in his orbit to put him on a pedestal and serve him.
The prospective slave has a vulnerability that can be exploited or manipulated – often unconsciously. This could include:
    1. the young
    2. sensitive or compliant personalities
    3. those carrying a previous wound that hasn’t healed
    4. those desiring affection to the extent that they will accept occasional crumbs of “love” from someone in exchange for whatever is asked of them
    5. those with no solid extrinsic foundation for their life
The controller could use a variety of methods to achieve dominance over the vulnerable
    • Outright bullying, either physically or verbally, ranging from cutting remarks to much more aggressive power moves
    • Lies and manipulation, ranging from charm (which is deceitful – Proverbs 31:30) to the current ill-defined popular phrase “gaslighting” (the attempt to make someone believe an alternate reality)
    • Some combo of the two – such as alternating “love”/abuse


The controller’s intent is to make the target dependent upon them, so that the target will exalt and be subservient as they seek to get their emotional or physical needs met. The fickleness of the controller may cause the target to cling even tighter as the controller appears to be the only available foundation of strength and source of need fulfillment.


These seeds of dependency are likely planted in childhood, through a parent or other authority who makes the child in some way fearful of disappointing the authority. The (narcissistic) parent in some way forces the child to take undue responsibility for meeting the parent’s needs as the means to get their own needs met.


If the dependency is not resolved before early adulthood – if the target does not learn to have their own rock solid foundation for life, they will tend to look for “strong people” who provide that foundation. In milder forms the target may become a “people-pleaser” – constantly going beyond what is necessary or appropriate to make sure others are not disappointed in them. They will tend to respond in the same way as childhood with too much reliance on the approval of others. They have a warped view of healthy relationships.


While the target may desire a romantic relationship with someone who is kind to them, they might easily gravitate toward someone like their childhood controller. This would be compounded by the fact that narcissists with a bent toward dominance will be attracted to them as a potential “planet” revolving around them. In his pursuit, the N might deceive the target through initial kindness, before they reveal their true colors.


The special vulnerability of children brings a particularly strong judgment on those who would damage them. That is why Jesus said…


….. to His disciples, “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble. Luke 17:1-2



Next Up: The Foundation For Freedom From Codependency

Dependency – Do Not Become Slaves Of Men


As we discussed in an earlier post, co-dependency is a fuzzy pop-psychology term.  The more precise Biblical concept is that of someone becoming a “slave of men” (I Corinthians 7:23) by subsuming their inner self to another person, rather than to God.  But we will use the term codependent interchangeably as shorthand.

How do we know that this phrase did not refer to the physical slavery of the day?  We know it because Paul made several other clear statements that while it is better to be free, it was also ok to be a slave.


Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that.   For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave.    I Corinthians 7:22-23

In fact, slaves were to not just chafe under their masters, but seek to honor the Lord in the situation.


All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against.   I Timothy 6:1
Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.   Colossians 3:22
Paul could make these statements, because slavery was a feature of his era’s economic system, not focused on the control of people’s inward selves but their outward performance.  In fact, in Christ everyone was equal irrespective of their socio-economic status.
a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.    Colossians 3:11
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  Galatians 3:28
Therefore, Paul’s admonition to “not become slaves of men” referred to who we are as a person, who we are on the inside, how we live our lives before God and with others.  We are not to subsume who we are on the inside to someone else.
All scripture taken in isolation is subject to misinterpretation and abuse.  “Do not become slaves of men” could easily be twisted to mean, “no one will rule over me” (including God-given authority), leading to “I can do whatever I want”, or “I should exit any relationship that restricts my freedom”.  This does not mean that.  We are referring to an inward freedom to be yourself and the person God wants you to be, regardless of the circumstances.
There are different tactics a “slave master” might use to make someone their slave (codependent).  For example,
  1. Bullying
  2. Manipulation
  3. Use of fake authority
  4. Abuse of true authority
Underneath the success of all of these is an element of the fear of man on the part of the codependent person – worried about what the other person thinks of you or can do to you, rather than what God thinks of you or can do to you.  Proverbs says,

The fear of man brings a snare,
But he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.  Proverbs 29:25

and Jesus said
 “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do.  But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!   Luke 12:4-5
As narcissists have an inner drive to be the unquestioned #1 around which others’ lives orbit, they are particularly driven to make others their emotional or physical slaves.  It is difficult for them to achieve that with “hard targets” (those who are on to them or not afraid of them), so they focus on available “soft targets”.  And one of the easiest of soft targets are their own children.
Next up:  Possible paths to co-dependency


A Narcissist’s Layers Of Defense


As we have seen throughout this blog a scoffer is the Biblical analog of a narcissist.  The Bible outlines how, in his pride, a scoffer creates layers of defense to prevent being proven wrong – as that would be an affront to his position of superiority.


The Scoffer Fights against Being Wrong

A scoffer (“luts”, aka narcissist) actively fights against anyone who attempts to criticize him, give him advice, or tell him that he is wrong in any way.  These actions may be based on their strong determination to get their own way, their belief that they are fundamentally always right, or a strong drive to refuse anyone else telling them what to do (resistance of any authority over them).

In fact, a scoffer will actively push back against anyone who attempts it – even going as far as trying to destroy at least the credibility, if not the reputation of anyone who dares to diminish him.  There are layers to the narcissist’s resistance.


First, the scoffer (narcissist) will not seek counsel from someone who might see through him (“the wise”) or might possibly tell him he is wrong.

A scoffer does not love one who reproves him, he will not go to the wise. 

Proverbs 15:12

In my own experience, I can think of cases where a narcissistic, insolently proud scoffer was on a course of action that was both not helpful to them and damaging to someone else.  In each case, many people advised them that they were off-course and needed to change direction.  The narcissist refused to listen and refused to change course.  He thinks:

    • “I want what I want, and no one is going to get in my way.”
    • “My vision/faith/etc. is superior, and others just don’t get it.”
    • “Everyone talking to me is inferior/stupid/wrong/etc., so why should I listen to them?”

The result was that the narcissist pushed ahead and ran into a set of negative consequences – which, among other things, further isolated them.  Of course, even then, they were unable to learn from what happened.


If the scoffer does receive a rebuke, he will not listen – out of a prideful self-delusion that he knows that he is right, and out of a total refusal to admit being wrong.

A wise son accepts his father’s discipline, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke. 

Proverbs 13:1

The scoffer not only refuses to listen but may even attempt to shut down even the slightest objection to their plans or actions.  This may include pushing back disproportionately hard against any hint that what they are saying or doing is not correct.  Or it could mean impulsively dismissing a suggestion out of hand, with a bit of a condescending tone (hence the term scoffer).  The phrase “will not listen” could be somewhat passive, but it could also take a very aggressive form.


In his battle to never be wrong, the narcissist further escalates the fight by looking to take you down.

He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself.  Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you.

 Proverbs 9:7-8

In his prideful refusal to be wrong, the scoffer secretly hates anyone who challenges him and his image of self-perfection.  A narcissist hates anything or anyone that gets in the way of their “glory.”  He will look to take down or trash (i.e. – dishonor) the person challenging his image, because if he succeeds, he is able to maintain his superiority.

He might do it by direct confrontation, in an aggressive attempt to get you to say you were wrong – making him correct and leaving his image intact.  While he may on occasion respond with an immediate full-frontal assault, he might also keep his feelings hidden until such a time that he can do the most damage.  In this case, he will try to disguise his hatred, speaking graciously even while hating you in his heart.  But don’t believe him.  He still fully intends to “trash” you or undermine you – waiting for a better time or opportunity to maybe even thrust the proverbial knife into your back in front of an audience of his choosing.

Like an earthen vessel overlaid with silver dross are burning lips and a wicked heart.  He who hates disguises it with his lips, but he lays up deceit in his heart.  When he speaks graciously, do not believe him, for there are seven abominations in his heart.  Though his hatred covers itself with guile, his wickedness will be revealed before the assembly.    

Proverbs 26:23-26

One reason that dealing with narcissists is so tricky is that they do not play honestly.  They readily employ deception to accomplish their purposes.  But, as Jesus said, what is in their heart must ultimately reveal itself.  Jesus said,

“The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.” 

Luke 6:45

The following illustrates the layers of protection which the scoffer puts in place, driven by his proud heart at the core.



Narcissists Create Conflict & Add Fuel To Fires


Scoffers are not only naturally defensive, they are also naturally contentious creators of conflict.

Through insolence[i] comes nothing but strife, but wisdom is with those who receive counsel.  Proverbs 13:10

When pride [insolence[ii]] comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom.  Proverbs 11:2

This makes sense, since narcissists are typically “fighting” or “contending” for supremacy and to get what they want.  They’re routinely irritated and angry at everyone and everything when things do not go their way.  They take actions that run people over rather than “wasting their time and energy” on having peaceful relationships.  So, if you see considerable drama or conflict, look around to see if a narcissist is involved. Continue reading

Narcissistic Projection – Part 2, An Example


Please see A Biblical Perspective On “Narcissistic Projection” for Part 1

To recap Part 1*, scoffers are hypocritical judges who accuse others of the very things of which they are guilty.  This action is the Biblical equivalent of what the secular world calls “projection”.  From Wikipedia:

“Psychological projection is a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against their own unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others. For example, a person who is habitually rude may constantly accuse other people of being rude. It incorporates blame shifting.”


An example of this is in Mark 3: Continue reading

Narcissist’s Create “Righteous” Reasons For Their Agenda


He was also saying to them [the scribes and Pharisees], “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.  For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, is to be put to death’; but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),’ you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.” 

Mark 7:9-13


The Mosaic instruction for honoring parents was serious, as illustrated by the severe consequence for speaking evil of them.  The Pharisees were caught between a rock and a hard place – in their greed and selfishness they wanted to hoard the money designated to support their parents.  But they also did not want to be seen (by God, or by man) as violating the clear Mosaic law.

Their devious solution created a mechanism that projected an image of “righteousness” while giving them what they wanted.   They would give their money “to God”, but would still control the spending – they would be the recipient of their own “generosity” instead of their parents.

This was not just about the Pharisees giving to a “greater and more worthy cause” than their parents – although they certainly wanted it to look that way.  They were deceitfully hoarding the funds, shirking their responsibilities, and using false “piety” to further glorify themselves while masking their evil behavior.

It is a classic narcissist move – creating an excuse that cannot be criticized or questioned as a smokescreen for their self-centered and self-serving actions.  And, if the smokescreen itself is useful as the means of achieving their goal – all the better.

Narcissist* v. Narcissist* – A Pure Power Play


Many of the posts in this blog are about how narcissists (scoffers, haughty, those with insolent pride) relate to non-narcissists, whom they manipulate and push around in order to achieve their “rightful” place of superiority and/or dominance.  But what happens when narcissists come up against each other?

The following can take place:

1 – Initially they play a game of flattery with each other.  At this point, they’re not really engaging in a contest for dominance, although in the middle of their flattery each narcissist is likely dropping hints to the other narcissist about their “greatness”.  Even though each N may know that the flattery is fake and a possible trap, they accept it because it appeals to their pride.


Psalm 12:2-4 –

They speak falsehood to one another; With flattering lips and with a double heart they speak.  May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, The tongue that speaks great things; Who have said, “With our tongue we will prevail; Our lips are our own; who is lord over us?”


Proverbs 29:5

A man who flatters his neighbor Is spreading a net for his steps.


Proverbs 26:28
A lying tongue hates those it crushes, And a flattering mouth works ruin.
The N’s are (most likely) knowingly allowing themselves to be baited, probably thinking they are smart enough to escape any consequences.

2 – They may attempt to use their standard tactics, but this is not likely since they both know the game each other is playing.  Therefore, since their normal schemes won’t work to gain an advantage, they would either


2A – Avoid each other, and avoid an outright conflict – based on both N’s not seeing much value in winning that particular power play (see below) vs. the effort required.  In other words, their greatness means they have bigger fish to fry, and this “little” skirmish is not worth bothering with


2B – Engage in a pure power play.  In this case both of the N’s feel compelled that their position is inherently right either based on its merits or their personal “worthiness”.   Therefore, in their mind and heart it is correct and right for them and their position/goals to prevail.  As it is right for them to win/achieve dominance, they are unwilling to cede any ground to anyone.  And, since to an N anything goes in the pursuit of their superiority, its a fight with no “rules” .   A pure power play means a fight until one of the two N’s comes out victorious.  It could be a simple fight where the N with the strongest position easily prevails and vanquishes his opponent, or it could be a protracted contest of equal power that focuses on tactics.

There may be a lot of collateral damage in the fight (ie – others getting hurt in the process), but the N’s absolutely do not care about that.  The only thing that counts is their winning.  If you see 2 N’s in a fight, get out of the way so that you do not become part of the collateral damage.

You’ve heard of “power politics” – it’s one example of a pure power play.


Even though we need to understand scoffers and their tactics, we are not to be like them


Matthew 10:16 –
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.
God has a different way of dealing with N’s than merely engage in a human vs human power play.  HE is in the equation with us, which changes everything.    We will dig much deeper into this in the upcoming book, as well as future blog posts.

Hypocrisy & Judgmentalism – Two Unmistakable Marks Of Narcissism – Part 2

Please see here for part 1


Jesus further highlighted the link between hypocrisy and judging others in Matthew 7:1-5:

 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?

You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.  Matthew 7:1-5


The word “judge” in Matthew 7:1 has the same root “krino”[1] as in the word hypocrite.  The hypocrite has a “log in his eye” – a euphemism for a “big problem” or “big character flaw”.  But, out of pride the hypocrite minimizes his own log to be “nothing” – saying to himself “I’m OK”.  He then pretends helpfulness by offering to take the speck (a little problem) out of his brother’s eye, but in fact is acting as a proud judge, setting himself up as superior.

His judgment is proof that he has a problem in the same life area in which he is trying to “help” his brother.


Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge[2] another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.  Romans 2:1

Continue reading

Narcissist Traits – They Will Trash You If You Reprove Them


As we have discussed previously, “scoffer” is one name to describe those who act with “insolent pride” – the Biblical term for what the secular world calls narcissism.  Therefore, we can learn more about the characteristics of narcissists by looking deeper at what the Bible says about scoffers.

The following table focuses on the fact that narcissists absolutely hate to be told that they are wrong.



Scoffer (Insolent Pride) Trait

Narcissism Trait


Proverbs 15:2 – A scoffer does not love one who reproves him, he will not go to the wise

A narcissist will first avoid situations where he may be told he is doing something wrong…..no matter how wise the “reprover” might be


Proverbs 13:1 – “…A scoffer does not listen to rebuke”

But if a narcissist somehow does find himself in position of being rebuked, he will refuse to listen.  Have you ever tried to rebuke a narcissist?  He will ignore you, verbally fight you, tell you why you are the one who is wrong – anything to keep from admitting that they may be wrong.


Proverbs 9:8 – “Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you..”



Proverbs 26:24-26 – “He who hates disguise it with his lips, but he lays up deceit in his heart.  When he speaks graciously, do not believe him, for there are seven abominations in his heart.  Though his hatred covers itself with guile, his wickedness will be revealed before the assembly.”

Not only will a narcissist refuse to listen, but he will also hate you for reproving him.


He will disguise his hatred, and even speak graciously to you, but when he has the chance to trash you publicly he will take it.


Proverbs 9:7 – “He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself…”

This results in a narcissist trashing your reputation.  A narcissist will not hesitate to trash the reputation of those who try to correct them – resulting in dishonor to you for daring to correct them.

Please see “Putting Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism Into Perspective” for background on what this blog is about.

Narcissist Tactics – They Conceal Their Hatred


One reason dealing with Narcissists is tricky is that they do not play honestly.  They readily employ deception to accomplish their purposes.


N-Laying Up Deceit In Their Heart


A Narcissist hates anything or anyone that gets in the way of their “glory”.  (Yes, hate is a strong word, but if you consider things on a spectrum of love vs. hate, they are on the hate side of the spectrum.)   While they may respond with an immediate full frontal assault, they might also keep their feelings hidden until such time that they can do the most damage.    They will try to disguise their hatred with their lips, by speaking graciously even while they hate you in their heart.  But don’t believe them.  They still fully intend to “trash” you (Proverbs 9:7 – “he who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself”), or undermine you – they’re just waiting for a better time or opportunity. Continue reading

“The People Of The Lie”


John 9:39-41

39 And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” 40 Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind too, are we?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.


One of the primary traits of the narcissistic Pharisees was their attitude of moral superiority and refusal to acknowledge that they had any sin – even though their inward lives were full of sin.  In this they deceived and lied to both themselves and others.  This can also be seen in Luke 18:9-14, Matthew 23:25-28, and Matthew 9:10-13.


M Scott Peck was a psychiatrist whose personal journey ultimately led him to commit to Christianity.  By observation and analysis, through the lens of Christianity, he reached the same conclusion that Jesus had already made clear above.

Following are excerpts from a book he wrote on the subject

. Continue reading

Narcissist Tactics – Saying Whatever They Have To, To Get What They Want


John 19:15

So they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!” Pilate *said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”


As we saw in

Narcissism Case Studies – The Pharisees, Overview

Narcissist Case Studies – Pharisees – How We Know They Were Narcissists, Part I

Narcissist Case Studies – How We Know “The Pharisees” Were Narcissists, Part 2

Additional Perspectives on The Pharisees


the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day were classic Narcissists.   A careful analysis of their actions can give some clues as to how narcissists approach things.  In this case, there was no way that the chief priests really wanted Caesar to be their king – the whole nation of Israel was chafing at Roman rule and would have loved to cast it off.  And they were actively looking for a Jewish king.  So when the chief priests, said “we have no king but Caesar”, they were blatantly lying simply to make sure that Pilate did not let Jesus go.

As discussed in other posts, some of the Messianic Psalms clearly lay out the characteristics of the narcissistic / insolent pride Pharisees.  And a key tactic was speaking falsehood to get what they wanted.   That is a prime tactic of all narcissists.


 Psalm 12

12 Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases to be,
For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men.
They speak falsehood to one another;
With flattering lips and with a double heart they speak.
May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
The tongue that speaks great things;
Who have said, “With our tongue we will prevail;
Our lips are our own; who is lord over us?”



Narcissism is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible calls “insolent pride”

Please see Putting “Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism” Into Perspective for an overview of this blog



Narcissist Tactics – Creating Rules , But Acting Above Those Same Rules


Matthew 23:4

They (the Pharisees) tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.


(See here and here and here on how we know that “The Pharisees” were narcissists).


The Pharisees used their limited co-opted authority as an opportunity to lord it over those whom they could.  One means they used to do this, as well as to prove their superiority, was to create performance requirements which they could then hang on people.  Of course, due to their own exceptionalism, the Pharisees did not bind themselves by those same rules.  That’s for the little people.


This is a typical narcissist approach – constantly maneuvering, manipulating, and creating situations where they can exercise their rightful position (in their own mind) as top dog – both by creating requirements for others, and by hypocritically and arrogantly thinking they are above those same requirements.


Please see http://biblicalperspectivesonnarcissism.com/2013/10/21/narcissist-case-studies-in-the-bible/  for an introduction to narcissism case studies in the Bible.