Narcissism is an expression frequently used by conservative media to describe the behavior of President Barack Obama [i]. American Christians ought to think twice about jumping on this bandwagon of hecklers; in reality, many women of the American Evangelical church are menaced by this personality disorder themselves.
There is a version of the “Bible” that has been out for a few years called Becoming. It has a suitable title. This magazine supplies American Evangelical females with all the tools necessary to become mature Christian narcissists. Becoming is not a Bible, although it purports to be so; it cannot be classified as the inerrant inspired Word in any sense. How this women’s magazine was categorized in the Bible section of CBD’s product listing should tell you a lot about which course American Evangelicalism is pursuing. It is a “Bible” that Joel Osteen, the man of Becoming A Better You, would proudly endorse.
In one form or another, a grandiose sense of Self-love has afflicted mainstream American Evangelicalism for the past twenty years. While we all know people who seem particularly impressed with themselves, you would least expect the Master’s ladies to chase a noxious preoccupation of personal success and Me-centeredness. Make no mistake: the Becoming “Bible” will certainly lead to an unhealthy feeling of entitlement and Self-love.
The product description says it all: “Formatted like a contemporary women’s magazine, this “Biblezine” brims with God’s practical wisdom for your life—every day! … Articles on beauty, men, fitness, career, money, and relationships * Trendy graphics * Bible studies * …”
How such a “Bible” will encourage Christian ladies to leave their life of sin is not stated. Will the Becoming “Bible” instruct Christian women to say “no” to their sinful nature? Will the Becoming “Bible” direct women to a life of Self-denial? One who is not willing to lose her life is not worthy of Christ [ii]. Such a person cannot be a disciple of the Lord [iii]. This is a call for Self-denial, not pursuits of Self-interest. The way of Christ is the narrow way, not the way of Cosmopolitan magazine.
The Becoming “Bible” is an injurious obsession with Self’s interests, not God’s. All Christians are instructed to turn from the life that is centered in Self, and yield to God’s word and will:
… Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works … [iv]
Here the Lord Jesus plainly states what is involved in being His disciple: denial of Self. The Christian life is filled with hardship and cross-bearing, and following Him. It means to yield to His control so completely that Self has no rights whatsoever. To take up the cross means the willingness to endure shame, suffering, and perhaps martyrdom for His sake; to die to sin, Self, and the world. To follow Him means to live as He lived with all humility, potential poverty, compassion, love, grace, and every other godly virtue. “This is that Self-denial which Christ so strongly enforces on his disciples from the very outset which leaves no place for pride, show, and ostentation; or, secondly, for avarice, lust, luxury, effeminacy, or other vices which are engendered by Self love [v].”
Obviously this magazine … err, “Bible” I meant to say … is all about You – the Self – not God.
Holy Scripture says otherwise: we must be emptied of Self:”
… Do nothing from Selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus … [vi]
The Apostle Paul instructs:
… women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness …[vii]
The Apostle is saying that Self exhibition is decidedly inappropriate, especially at the time of prayer. The emphasis is that women should not seek to draw attention to themselves. Women who profess the Christian faith should, in their dress, as well as other things, act in such a way that glorifies the Lord instead of Self. Instead of laying out their money on fine clothes, they must lay it out in works of charity, which are properly called “good works.”
Humanity is divided into two communities: the redeemed, who love God, and the reprobate, who love Self.
The Becoming “Bible” is aptly named. 21st century American Christian women are surely “becoming” something. Let’s pray that they are not “becoming” modern cows of Bashan:
Hear this word, you cows of Bashan who are on the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, Who say to your husbands, “Bring now, that we may drink!” The Lord GOD has sworn by His holiness, ‘Behold, the days are coming upon you when they will take you away with meat hooks, and the last of you with fish hooks [x].
In this stinging indictment of Israel’s women the designation “cows of Bashan” refers to the insensitive wives of wealthy officials living in luxury. Although they may not have oppressed the poor overtly, these women pressured their husbands to provide them with luxuries to satisfy their self-indulgence at the expense of the poor and needy. They had forfeited their right to be respected [ix]. Bashan was a fertile, well-watered region (now the Golan Heights) where sheep and cattle grazed in lush pastures. Animals for cultic sacrifice were raised here. Just as the fattening cattle were oblivious to their certain but pending slaughter, the Israelite women were living in luxury unaware of the catastrophe about to crush them. The Lord swore He would lead them away like slaves with fishhooks, a humiliating captivity.
[i] http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/07/obamas_narcissism.html; http://www.americanthinker.com/2008/09/obama_oprah_and_the_guru_malig_1.html; http://www.globalpolitician.com/25109-barack-obama-elections
[ii] Matthew 10:38
[iii] Luke 14:27
[iv] Matthew 16:24-27
[v] Calvin, John. INSTITUTES, A SUMMARY OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE ON SELF-DENIAL (Chapter 7)
[vi] Philippians 2:3-5
[vii] 1 Timothy 2:9
[viii] James 5:1-3
[ix] Isaiah 3:16–4:1
[x] Amos 4:1
Further Proof of Overt American Female Narcissistic Personality Disorder:
EVANGELICAL WRITER WANTS PASTORS TO END THE SILENCE ON BODY IMAGE, brought to you by Christianity Today (they’re the magazine of Evangelical conviction, in case you didn’t know or could tell).