I am currently dealing with a counseling situation, elements of which I have seen before in a missions context. The short version is that a narcissist has subtly manipulated a group of people in her (I would call it evil) attempt to undermine and dominate her husband. Her insolent pride arose from growing up in a tough situation, resulting in deep underlying fear which has resulted in an ongoing attempt to control her world in insolent pride. The book The First Will Be Last: A Biblical Perspective on Narcissism explains this more fully. While we can be empathetic to her root causes, and pray for healing, she is also responsible for her own responses to her early trauma.
Like in other cases, the narcissist has spread lies and half-truths to turn everyone against the husband. And as usual, he in this case is not perfect or blameless. In addition, he responded to the manipulation against him in frustration and and anger. Both of these helped the N more easily succeed in painting herself as a saint and her husband as the bad guy.
Most people, especially in a Christian context, expect those they are talking with to be truthful. As a result, we naively tend to believe what we’re being told without fact-checking it. This is contrary to what God warns us in Proverbs
The first to plead his case seems right, until another comes and examines him.
This has made it far easier for the narcissist to manipulate the situation.
There are examples in Scripture of narcissists manipulating others to become tools in reaching their goals. The primary one is how the Pharisees (Biblical examples of narcissists, see here
) manipulated Pilate to do their dirty work. John 19:1-16
describes the entire sequence, but the following statements by the Pharisees demonstrate how they manipulated and bullied Pilate to accomplish their goals
Jesus answered, “You [Pilate] would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.” 12 As a result of this Pilate made efforts to release Him, but the Jews cried out saying, “If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar; everyone who makes himself out to be a king opposes Caesar.”
And he [Pilate] *said to the Jews, “Behold, your King!” 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.”
So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified.
The chief priests did not truly see Caesar as their king. They said that to manipulate and force Pilate into doing their bidding. Pilate did not take the time nor had the courage to dig into what they were really doing, with the serious consequence of becoming complicit in the death of Christ. As we saw earlier, Jesus said that the chief priests had the greater sin, but He did not let Pilate off the hook.
Back to our counseling situation – what is the husband to do if the narcissistic wife successfully recruits others against him? Lies against you are virtually impossible to fight on your own. We must always remember that we can have the God of the Universe as our defender if we are righteous before Him. The husband first must look to himself and own his mistakes, and yield to God.
Who can say, “I have cleansed my heart,
I am pure from my sin”?
The process starts with looking internally, and rather than defending yourself admit that there is some measure of sin in your own heart. If you have done something wrong confess and ask forgiveness, even if the N will use that against you.
But once that is done, boldly ask God to work on your behalf to protect and defend you
- Ask God to humble the N
- Ask God to expose the N’s lies and manipulations
- Ask God to defend your reputation (to the extent He sees it is necessary)
- Ask God to thwart or counteract specific moves the N makes …
- Ask God to bring you specific encouragement and blessing
Psalm 17 illustrates this:
Hear a just cause, O Lord, give heed to my cry;
Give ear to my prayer, which is not from deceitful lips.
2 Let my judgment come forth from Your presence;
Let Your eyes look with equity.
3 You have tried my heart;
You have visited me by night;
You have tested me and You find nothing;
I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress.
4 As for the deeds of men, by the word of Your lips
I have kept from the paths of the violent.
5 My steps have held fast to Your paths.
My feet have not slipped.
6 I have called upon You, for You will answer me, O God;
Incline Your ear to me, hear my speech.
7 Wondrously show Your lovingkindness,
O Savior of those who take refuge at Your right hand
From those who rise up against them.
8 Keep me as the apple of the eye;
Hide me in the shadow of Your wings
9 From the wicked who despoil me,
My deadly enemies who surround me.
10 They have closed their unfeeling heart,
With their mouth they speak proudly.
11 They have now surrounded us in our steps;
They set their eyes to cast us down to the ground.
12 He is like a lion that is eager to tear,
And as a young lion lurking in hiding places.
13 Arise, O Lord, confront him, bring him low;
Deliver my soul from the wicked with Your sword…
On top of this is to pray that God would “enlighten the eyes of the heart” of the narcissist (Ephesians 1), so that they would have a radical revelation of who God really is, and see themselves clearly in comparison to God’s greatness and glory. This is the foundation to their healing. This discussion is way beyond the scope of this blog post, but outlined in the book, “The First Will Be Last: A Biblical Perspective On Narcissism“.
Click here for initial steps on how to know God personally