Can a Narcissist Be a Christian?
You’ve heard of an oxymoron, right? An oxymoron is a self-contradicting word or group of words, like ‘jumbo shrimp,’ ‘awfully good,’ and ‘only choice.’
If you were just learning the language, some of these figures of speech would confuse you, and rightfully so.
The same is true for an interaction with a person who calls themselves a Christian but displays polar opposite qualities. It’s like an oxymoron–it just doesn’t make sense.
But who are we to judge whether someone is a Christian or not? After all, we don’t truly know their heart.
It can make you wonder, who are they really and how am I supposed to treat them?
That’s why in today’s episode, we will unpack the question–can narcissists be Christians?
My hope is that after today, you will never be fooled again.
So let’s dive in and first examine, what is a narcissist?
A narcissist is someone who has an overinflated sense of themselves and is extremely self-involved to the degree that it makes them ignore the needs of those around them—even those they claim to love.
Here are some of their defining traits:
- Disregarding of others
- Lacking empathy
- Difficulty with intimacy
- Playing the victim
- High need for adoration
A Christian is someone who has received Jesus as their Lord and Savior. They are as the name implies–“a follower of Christ.”
You can recognize them by their:
- Adherence to biblical principles
- Death to their own desires
- Heart for others
- Surrender to God’s will
- Willingness to pick up their cross and follow Jesus no matter the cost.
So it makes sense that when you put these two words together—narcissist and Christian—they seem to form an oxymoron.
And this is where you may feel like you’re losing your mind. Maybe you’re confused by the fact that they call themselves Christians. Or maybe you’ve seen them answer an altar call or go to church more than you. Perhaps they even know scripture—when it suits their agenda.
The problem is, narcissists usually know enough to be dangerous. But their desire to give up what pleases them is non-existent.
You see narcissists treat a relationship with God like any other relationship—it’s transactional. And worse, it’s a one-sided transaction.
Many narcissists WILL accept Jesus as the Savior, but will not live a life for him. And that’s why so much effort goes into maintaining their Christian façade—because it’s all about the image for them.
One of the narcissist’s qualities is a lack of empathy, but just because narcissists lack empathy, it doesn’t mean they lack ALL emotions. In fact, many will come to Christ through an emotional altar call—perhaps the fear of losing someone, or the desire to obtain someone. In some cases, they believe it puts them in a favorable light. I’ve known several narcissists who became ‘Christians’ simply for business connections.
One of the things they love the most about a relationship with God is they think that a quick ‘I’m sorry’ wipes away all their sins with God, and so it should with you too. So yeah, that part of repentance works well for them.
They want all the benefits. But they don’t want to pay the price.
Just like a relationship with you. They want what they want from you but they’re not willing to invest. They will paint the picture and create the image of a good husband or a sweet wife, but there’s no depth. The relationship is shallow. The same is true of their relationship with God.
Even though they can have a personal experience, they can attend church, they know the right words to say—many even serve in the church regularly—at the core, there’s no personal surrender.
They may even have a mic in their hand and command the attention of millions.
But as Matthew 15:8 says, “This person honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”
That’s why you see a very different person in public than in private—because they have no interest in surrendering their life to anyone, including Christ. In their mind, they honestly believe that good people like themselves don’t need to take up the cross. That’s only for the rest of you losers who don’t have it together.
So does this mean that NO narcissists can be Christians?
The short answer is no.
I’m not saying they’re not saved. But they’re not surrendered. And that’s what the Christian life is, it’s a surrendered life. It’s a life that we give up to our Lord and say have your way….not my will, but yours, be done.
Surrender and submission doesn’t fly with a narcissist. Yes, they may pretend they are, but inwardly they are envious, rebellious, manipulative people who connive to get their own way. Their surface surrender is no surrender at all.
The other question to ask is this: Can Christians be narcissistic? And the answer is YES.
Any Christian at any time can display the traits of a narcissist. And these ‘Christian’ narcissists have a hope for change IF they are willing to surrender to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to break down the walls of narcissism.
If they don’t, they will grow more and more callous and deadened in their conscience.
So how do you know a narcissistic Christian from a true Christian?
The answer can be found in Matthew 7:16: “You will recognize them by their fruits.” Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles?
True Christians will make mistakes and truly repent. Narcissists will make mistakes and then make excuses.
True Christians will manipulate their lives to fit the will of God. Narcissists will manipulate everyone else to fit their will.
True Christians will look to reflect the image of Christ. Narcissists will look to uphold a false image to impress others.
True Christians give. Narcissists take.
True Christians change over time. Narcissists don’t.
So the question is, can a narcissist be a Christian?
No, I don’t believe they can be true Christ followers. They can certainly be ‘religious’ but they can’t be Christians. There’s just too much contradiction.
They say they love God, but their actions show they only love themselves.
They do good deeds for the accolades, but God says that’s all the reward you’re going to get.
They say they follow God, but even their values go against biblical teachings if it suits their narrative. You’ll see this even in their political beliefs—they go where the benefit is for them, not Godly values.
They say they believe God’s word, but only when it suits their purpose and can be used to their advantage.
They say they’re “sorry.” but there’s no true repentance.
They pretend to be giving and self-sacrificing people, but their giving is self-serving and their sacrificing is all for the image.
The truth is, the only genuine thing about a narcissist is their love for themselves.
So as you move forward in your relationships, ask yourself this: Am I dealing with a narcissist who claims to be a Christian? Or am I dealing with a Christian who’s struggling with narcissistic qualities?
The difference is huge.
The last point I want to touch on is a big one and it’s how a narcissist interprets forgiveness. So check out this episode next to find out how your forgiveness with a narcissist can backfire if you’re not aware of these signs.