Forgiveness is one of the greatest blessings we can give to others. In relationships, couples who forgive each other are happier than those who don’t. Studies show that forgiving makes you healthier, happier, and stronger. Holding a grudge is bad for your blood pressure, causes anxiety and can reduce your life expectancy. It affects you, not the offender, who has probably forgotten all about what’s making you miserable and bitter.
But what happens if we are wronged and the person does not admit wrong, doesn’t apologize, or turn away from the behavior? Are we required to forgive an emotionally abusive spouse who clearly has no intent to change? Would Jesus turn the other cheek to a Narcissist, or would he implement No Contact?
There is a general misconception that being spiritual and/or a good Christian means we should give abusers the benefit of the doubt. The belief is that we are supposed to grant unconditional love if we expect to be forgiven. However, the Bible is full of scripture that warns us against people who love themselves and commit abuse and other deceitful, immoral acts without remorse. Matthew 18:17 tells us precisely how to deal with such behaviors:
“Let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”
Jesus’ message is clear. The Jews hated gentiles and tax collectors, and considered them thieves and pagans. They kept away from them as much as possible. Hence, Jesus is plainly telling us that we should avoid such people.
2 Timothy 3 gives us further instructions regarding how we should deal with Narcissists:
“People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, unfeeling, uncooperative, slanderous, degenerate, brutal, hateful of what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, and lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. They will hold to an outward form of godliness but deny its power. Stay away from such people. For some of these men go into homes and deceive women. These women are always studying but are never able to arrive at a full knowledge of the truth. The men are depraved in mind and their faith is a counterfeit.”
Dani Moss, author of the blog Because It Matters, further analyzes typical abusive behaviors and how they’re addressed in the Bible:
I Tim. 5:8 says a man who does not provide for his family (provision = financial, spiritual, emotional protection and leadership) has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. God calls an unrepentant abusive spouse an unbeliever. I Cor. 5:11 says believers are not to associate with, are not even to eat with, a person who is verbally abusive (“railer”). And I Cor. 7:13-15 says that if an unbelieving spouse removes (walks away from the marriage covenant – which can include staying in the house but leaving the relationship) himself from the marriage, the believing wife is to let him go. It may seem backwards for the believing wife to leave – but we have to remember that the “leaving” happens when a spouse does violence to his house (Mal. 2:13-16). The believing wife who removes to safety is not the one who abandoned the relationship.
Proverbs 23:9 Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of your words.
Proverbs 26:11 As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool returns to his folly.
Proverbs 9:7,8 He that reproves a scorner gets to himself shame: and he that rebukes …
2 Corinthians 11:20 You put up with it when someone enslaves you, takes everything you have, takes advantage of you, takes control of everything, and slaps you in the face.
Psalms 1:1 Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the wicked, and stands not in the way of sinners, and sits not in the seat of scorners.
Proverbs 16:22 Understanding is a fountain of life to one who has it, but the punishment of fools is their folly.
Matthew 15:14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.
Mark 7:10-13 Moses gave you this law from God: ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death. (Narcissists are often very disrespectful towards their parents).
God commands us to forgive. We are blessed when we forgive. Forgiveness means letting go of anger and resentment, and not retaliating. It doesn’t mean we always forget. It doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences, nor should that things remain the same. There’s no question that it is wise for Christians to limit activity with people who are engaging in destructive behavior, and that includes going No Contact with Narcissists.
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