When A Christian Meets A Sociopath


I was recently contacted and asked to share my thoughts on how a Christian is supposed to deal with narcissists, sociopaths and psychopaths. To some it may seem like an odd request but actually it isn’t at all. One area of my counseling practice is specializing in recovery from toxic relationships and believe me when I say that trying to have a normal relationship with a narcissist, sociopath or psychopath is anything BUT normal. The Hollywood version of how a narcissist, sociopath or psychopath behaves often confuses people and it is after much psychological abuse that someone comes to realize that they were in fact in a very toxic relationship. I think it’s important to know what these relationships look like and there is a great book called “Psychopath Free” by Peace. Here is a link to my book review – “Psychopath Free”.

The topic of how a Christian is supposed to deal with being in a relationship with a very emotionally unhealthy and unsafe person is important because it highlights many significant pitfalls. The reason this becomes an issue is due to the fact that biblical teaching is often taken out of context and used to justify and enable bad behaviors in people. For decades, women who were being physically, emotionally, sexually and  psychologically abused by men in their lives were told by pastors that it was their duty to make it work at home and to cook better meals or do other tasks in order to please abusive men. This thinking has permeated church culture. Although nowadays no church in the country would allow a pastor to preach from the pulpit that domestic violence is acceptable, I assure you that individual pastors are still counseling female parishioners that they as women need to bring peace to the home. How do I know this is still happening? I often end up seeing these ladies for counseling. They walked into a pastor’s office with the problem of domestic abuse and came out with the same problem and another one added: it’s their responsibility to fix the abuse by being a better girlfriend, wife or daughter.

This history of placing the blame on the woman when abuse is present has contributed to some Christian women feeling as if they can not set healthy boundaries with men who end up being narcissistic, sociopathic or psychopathic.  Now, I should pause here and say that I know men meet, date and sometimes marry narcissists, sociopaths and psychopaths and the damage done is just as intensely painful for these men. The question asked of me was about Christians in particular and I do strongly believe that women have been taught to overlook and put up with abuse in ways that Christian men collectively have not. I could be wrong but it’s just my experience of being a Christian for over twenty years and having been actively involved in churches and previously on ministry staff.

What are Christians supposed to do when interacting with toxic people? I think remembering a few key points is very helpful.

A Tree and Its Fruit

Matthew 7:17 says that we will know a good tree by its fruit and a diseased tree by the fruit it bears. If you find yourself in a toxic relationship but are having trouble with setting what you know to be healthy boundaries, think about the fruit of your interactions with the abusive person. Do you feel anxious, not like your normal self, depressed or like you are living in a chaotic emotional tornado? Is that good or bad fruit? We both know the answer to that question and it’s bad fruit. Bad fruit produced by a bad tree.

God Will Change Him/Her

No, He won’t. Sorry to be so short and blunt about it but God will not change a narcissist, sociopath or psychopath. How do I know this to be true? Because I have never, not once, ever, never seen someone changed by God who didn’t want to be changed. Think about it for a minute. Has anyone ever gone to bed a complete high-grade jerk and woke up radically transformed into the loving image of Jesus? Nope. Now I have seen a whole lot of people do a whole lot of praying and soul searching and surrendering and the such and then became completely new people. It’s actually one of my favorite things about the blessings of God. Narcissists, sociopaths and psychopaths don’t think there is anything wrong with them. It’s part of their disordered thinking that convinces them everyone else is wrong. They are incapable of change. Speaking of change, go ahead and take a look at my blog about the Four Levels Of Change. Don’t believe me? Think about a clinically narcissistic person and the truly positive lasting change that occurred within them. Can’t think of any? Neither can I and I am a therapist.

As Christians, we have to remember that scripture says that God is a gentleman and will go where He is welcomed. He doesn’t kick down doors to get to people who feel they have no need for Him. So if you’re staying stuck in a toxic situation with a narcissist, sociopath or psychopath and waiting for God to instantly change him or her, you are seriously wasting months if not years of your life. This thinking is a trap and can become a prison cell in which people stay self-imposed.

I Need To Lead Him /Her To Christ

When the topic of setting boundaries with toxic people comes up, I often hear Christians say that they are concerned about turning their backs on someone because they see it as their duty to lead that person to God. If someone is an evangelical Christian and believes that introducing a non-believer to God is their calling, then I can completely understand the pressure these people feel in cutting ties with unsaved toxic people. If you’re a predestination person, that pressure is different but still a difficult situation.

Whether a person is evangelical or not, staying safe and not becoming a door mat is vitally critical to our own well being. Once we lose our joy and our hope and our peace, we certainly can’t share those beautiful attributes with other people. If the narcissist, sociopath or psychopath in your life is causing or has caused you to be less sparkly than you once were, how can you expect to live the life you were given as a gift?

When Christians say that they don’t want to set needed boundaries because they are giving up on someone, I gently remind them that they are being a titch egocentric to think that they and they alone are only who God can use to bring change into the toxic person’s life. We have to be very careful when lies start whispering that we must be the one who brings truth to a narcissist, sociopath or psychopath. When we start thinking this way, we have enslaved ourselves to more abuse in all its various forms.

If you are a Christian and in a toxic relationship, ask yourself what fruit is this relationship bringing to your life. Good fruit or poisoned fruit? Remind yourself that people only change when they see a need and are willing to change. Lastly, you are not the only person on the planet who God can use to reach toxic people.

Does a particular toxic person come to mind and what boundaries do you need to set in order to fully enjoy your life again?


140 comments on “When A Christian Meets A Sociopath

  • spot on! My biggest struggle with setting the boundaries needed to protect mysf from my ex husband (definitely narcissistic possibly sociopath) was my faith! I promised God for better or worse and I took that seriously. But our promises were not equal and his continued deceit, manipulation, and reckless behavior was diminishing my spirit!!! I’m not sure I would have been able to accept this information 1.5 years ago but I’m beyond the crazy making situation now and I can say with CONFIDENCE!!! that this Artie is SPOT ON! Women if you are questioning or doubting yourself….remember that those feelings don’t come from God. Trust His work and get out of the relationship.

  • I have read the book “Psychopath Free” by Peace and it was very helpful in understand the dynamics of toxic relationships. It was at a very vulnerable time in my life that a toxic person entered my life….which presents the “hole” for them to enter. When you see yourself as God sees you, there will be no hole, but faith instead.

  • This is a great article and something I’ve needed to hear for a long time. Being a Christian is partly what kept me in the twisted cycle I was in. Thank you very much for this!

  • What would you tell people about forgiveness? That’s what really kept me trapped. Christians are taught to always forgive and the sociopath really used that too his advantage.

  • Karen Russell says:

    You are so right on so many levels. I’ve not quite heard it expained as simply as you have. Thank you for your service to those/us, in need! If you have an article on parents that are as you’ve described, please tell me how to get it.
    Thank you, and may God continue to bless you!

  • Thanks for this – yes, the Church still has some learning to do when it comes to understanding what can underly abusive relationships, and what they can do to support people (particularly women) caught up in this.

    I’m sure your post will help.

  • Leesa Davis says:

    Thank God he gave me the strength to get away from my narcissist husband.It took a lot.Its not easy to recover but by God’s Grace,I am.

  • This is the first “Christian” article that has offered to me what I have come to learn after 19 years of being married to a narcissist, that the problem can not be “prayed away” or that the problem can not be fixed by me being a more Godly wife. I am NOT the problem. All the people in my life for years gave ME advice while letting the narcissist run free over my life. Christian women do not deserve the mental abuse I have been through in the name of being “Holy”.

  • Excellent points. These (evil oppressed imo) people will steal so much from you (time, money, energy, health) that God could have used for fruitful Kingdom work.

  • Thank you for this article. Complete “light” to all, including me, who have experienced this type of emotional trauma. Blessings ~ Love & Light

  • Yes Jessica. I will try and address forgiveness because it is so often used as a manipulation tool. Thanks for the suggestion!

  • Excellent article. One thing I would ask anyone who is staying is, what can YOU do to change the situation? I tried for 24 years and there is nothing you as a single entity can do. Please don’t waste all the years I did. Get out. I promise you, if he’s truly a narc/socio he won’t care. He will only try to make himself right about you, by proving to the church you’re unworthy of love. You have to get to a place where you let them believe what they’d like. They win him!

  • Oh my goodness! This is the first time I have read your blog…Awesome!!! I am a Christian therapist and author (www.betrayednotbroken.com) and you write like the way I approach therapy. I have also been working women seeking counseling after meeting with their pastors and being told the same stuff you are talking about. The women I see have experienced poor counsel regarding infidelity and told it is their fault. You are direct and honest but respectful. I will continue to read. Love it!!!

  • Thank you Laurel for commenting and I am looking forward to taking a look at your website and the work you are doing! It’s always wonderful to connect with another therapist who has a similar approach to practice.

  • I think it’s important to warn women in these situations to be prepared for many kinds of manipulations once they decided to leave the abuser. These so called “Christians” psychopath, Narcissist will play victim and pretend to be genuinely remorseful, however its only an act to clean up their image. They will even go into counseling to get sympathy from others and have other “Christians” attack the victim for not wanting to reconcile with the abuser. Churches should give the victim strong support and let her know God loves her. Not make her out to be evil.. These psychopath don’t change they just adapt to the situation. We’re told in the bible to have nothing to do with these people..

  • YES, YES, and YES Rose! Thank you so much for highlighting a really important issue with how “Christian” psychopaths/narcissists will manipulate people in the church. It happens so often and it incredibly abusive.

  • I appreciate what you are doing and writing, but from my own experience would suggest the following: Men undergo the same guilt tripping when they are with a NPD/BPD/sociopath as well. After all, we are supposed to lay down our lives for our wives as Jesus did for the Church, right? And men are especially vulnerable because we are oriented towards fixing problems. And when the problem can’t be fixed, we are often blamed for not trying hard enough (sounds like some of the nonsense that women hear from some pastors). I am also trained as a therapist and understand your emphasis on women but men are also an underserved population when treating abuse victims. In all my training as a counsellor I always heard cases of men as the abuser but never women, which leaves many therapists unprepared for helping the abused male. Your analysis is excellent but please let folk know that the “solutions” apply to both men and women when trapped into these circumstances. Bless you for your work with these challenging clients.

  • Thank you so much Jim for your comment. You are 100% correct in highlighting that men are just as affected by the abuse from NPD/BPD/sociopaths and the use of people’s faith to further that abuse. I so appreciate you taking the time to comment.

  • Thank you for this article! I recently left my toxic marriage. My faith kept me there thinking, believing, and hoping he would change. I finally got peace about leaving and took advantage of it! It’s hard in my situation because my ex is undiagnosed (I think sociopath) and claims to be a Christian. Articles like these have helped me more than I can ever express!

  • Rose, what you said is right on point! I am currently facing this very thing. I am the one being treated like I’m wrong after leaving even though everyone we knew previously agreed with me. He has played the part so well at times I’ve almost believed him! They all said I should leave and are now saying if we don’t reconcile I’m in the wrong. It’s very hard to go through this type of manipulation and we need so much support!

  • Denise, thanks so much! This is so right. I have been there for six years and have tried every approach imaginable. I have been struggling with what they think but I love what you said about they get him… Great food for thought!

  • Yes. I received the same advice. I was married for 40 years and could never figure out why my husband could not love me. And of course, pastors would say that the wife had to try harder and do this or that.
    Even my current pastor told me after I divorced that I needed to reconcile or remain single the rest of my life. I believe he is wrong! Sociopaths are attracted to highly empathic women, so sadly, good Christian women are a big target.

  • Exhausted but Recovering says:

    Church is supposed to be about a body of believers that reach others for Christ and help them grow in Christ. It is the perfect place for a Physchopath to find his/her victim. Psychopaths are very good at what they do. The can come into a group of loving caring people and make them feel so, so, sorry for them. They come in being the victim of someone – a husband, family member, co-worker, friend, and yes, even a victim of the church they just left. Innocent, loving, kind and good people then take up the battle for the Psychopath. They never think this poor, poor person is lying 🙁 The Psycho stirs up everyones emotions every chance they get. They know exactly what to say to appear small, humble, and weak, when in all actuality they are manipulating, evil, and very dangerous. They seek people in power, they seek the opposite sex, and they seek people who have money. When they are finishd sucking you into their cause – someone they hate will be driven into the dust. When they have finished with that deadly task they move on from person to person – any person who is a threat to them – any person who steals the limelight from them. After many people have been hurt and you begin to figure them out they play nice to your face, but behind your back they are moving on. They move on to tell large tales and lie to somone else only this time you are the object they desire to take down. Behind your back they will lie, manipulate, and play the victim again…..only this time you are the one who is supposedly
    doing the victimizing! Shocker of all shocks! So you decide to handle the situation in a Biblical manner and confront them, only they pretend they don’t know what your atking about. Yes, they play totally surprised. They lie again, and now you are the bad guy and they will twist everything even more. The best thing you can do is – get rid of them. If you have any Biblical authority in your church to do so – do it now, and do it fast. Because whether you let them stay or go they are going to tear the body of Chirst apart limb by limb. You will feel as though the devil himself in walking within the church walls. When they are gone they will never stop trying to destroy you but do your best to have absolutly no communication with them. Read everything you can about them and cut yourself and your church free.

  • I never got any support from my pastor regarding this toxic man . He got all the sympathy and support although he was abusing me mentally and physically. I was told to forgive him and implied if I didn’t forgive I was not being a good Christian . I felt isolated from the church as he had them eating out of his hand with his innocent pity plays. Now I am out of that situation after 15 yrs I still feel so let down by the church

  • I stumbled across your article in my newsfeed and it hit me hard. I am a daughter of a narcissist. When I first talked with a Christian therapist I had never heard of the word narcissist. After describing my controlling relationship with my dad she told me to cut all ties with him as I have been a victim since I was a child. I was horrified, shocked and in denial. Being a Christian I could not wrap my head around her advice. Isn’t it one of the ten commandments to honor thy father and mother? (a commandment my father has never let me forget) A hurtful situation occurred which allowed me to cut all ties with my father. It was a difficult decision for many reasons but for me was the level of control he had over me. Just recently he showed up on my doorstep for my birthday. His words were, “are you going to take me in?” I did and within 10 seconds it was all about him again.
    If anyone nows of a good book they specifically deals with a child if a narcissist, could you post it?

  • Stephanie Richards says:

    I was always asking for God’s help while I was with him. I asked for peace, understanding and tolerance. The more peaceful and tolerant I was, the more abuse I got. He needed to see me cry or be hurt in order to feel powerful. Being around him made me unable to have a good relationship with God. I was constantly in fear, insecure and resentful. My spirit became sick and I felt that God couldn’t work through me while I had all that to deal with. I am 8 weeks out of the relationship after trying to make my marriage work for 6 years, while my husband did nothing to try to make it work. He tried to convince me that God was nothing. Now I know that he is nothing. I can feel the peace and love of God coming back into my life now. Every day it is getting better. To anyone wondering if it is their fault, please ask God that question. Ask him what He would have you be. Ask for guidance from Him, not your husband. You will get your answers I am sure. Love to all of you who have suffered or are suffering from marriage to a Narcissist.

  • I love the common sense with which you dispel the guilt that could come if we got out intact. And I also believe women are capable of using any good-and-right rationalization to stay – not for any of the stated “reasons,” but because it is the most painful addiction withdrawal there is. I too have professional and personal experience.

  • Great article, I would suggest that the female Narcissist is more covert, being usually unable to back up any challenge with violence, they have often learnt to be extremely subtle. My Narcissist comes from a family of them, the father being the victim. The thing to remember, is listen to God , not your ego. God warned me before, and after, about being “hooked” by a person who recognised herself as a “parasite” , having prayed for 1 minute and claimed she was cured. Yes, Narcissists exist in the Church, and in the Pulpit, think about it, its the perfect hiding place, and hunting territory.

  • Unfortunately, many survivors have had the experience of a toxic person manipulating church leaders. Survivors often have to separate out their spiritual beliefs with a specific church. Looking at the character of Jesus can help survivors find their faith again. Often, modern church leaders do not reflect Jesus at all – Shannon

  • Yes, yes and YES! Wonderful job describing exactly how a toxic person infiltrates churches and causes all sorts of chaos; right under the nose of leaders and often with the leaders direct help – Shannon

  • You heard that from a pastor with very legalistic viewpoints and it is that exact type of leadership that keeps victims in abusive situations. You are absolutely right in that good Christian women are definitely a big target! – Shannon

  • My mother was a sociopath, though we didn’t know it at the time. I felt guilty for years for cutting all ties with her just before my first child was born, after several breaks and reconciliations that just didn’t work. Everything was “my” fault. Although this article was written more towards people in toxic marriages, it is just as hard for children with toxic parents, even once they reach adulthood. You try telling somebody that you no longer have contact with your mother! Great way to stop a conversation right there! My mother has since passed away – mind you I didn’t find out until nearly 5 years later when I stumbled across her funeral notice on the internet … …

  • Thank you so much Shannon! 🙂 I live in the UK and was searching online tonight, to see how on earth I’m meant to behave and feel, towards my ex. It was so very hard to end the relationship, because I really wanted to reflect Jesus to him, who NEVER, EVER, gives up on us or leave us! My ex isn’t a christian, so I wanted him to know the beautiful, unconditional faithfulness of God, no matter how many times he hurt me. I thought I could love him better with Gods love, but instead I just got very, very hurt. I did stand up to him , every time he hurt me, but of course that just caused verbal battles, as he cant seem to feel empathy or remorse.
    With the help of an amazing Christian therapist though, I am now re-building my heart and my life, but still I find myself thinking how can I help him? I’ve been trying to stay friends, but he still hurts me with his words and actions. So to read what you and other christian women are saying about these kinds of people and how seriously unwell they are,… well it makes me think, that I’ve really got to try and focus on my OWN life and let God heal and restore me. Yes, my ex. matters to God, but so do I. And knowing God, he probably wants to keep me safe and away from him. Its a hard thing to ‘Let go and let God’ with someone you care about, but I know a person has to WANT to change and I just cant make that happen. Thankyou for reminding me everyone. Much love to all you overcomers in Christ. xxxxx

  • Rhonda Bliss says:

    A well written article. As a therapist in NZ who sees individuals and couples I totally agree with all you have said. Thanks

  • Outstanding treatment of this issue.It was wonderful for me to read an article from someone else who really understands the difficulties that Christians, particularly Christian women, face with Narcissists. I loved your “blunt” calling it like it is. The discovery of good information can be life-giving to the abused Christian in this type of toxic relationship.

    As a therapist, Christian, and former wife of an extreme Narcissist, I applaud your work!

  • Thank you so much Jan for taking the time to comment. I am excited to hear that you are out there doing the same work. Many blessings to you, Shannon

  • My goodness Janet. That is a very difficult way to find out. There are many of us out there that have had the experience of trying to explain that we don’t have contact with our own mother. People look at you oddly. But what we know is that not being in contact is a healthy choice and that’s all that matters. If we didn’t get the gift of a surrogate mother, perhaps we can be one to another child or adult “orphan” – Shannon

  • Yes this is relavent as children of narcissists, often think this is normal and are attracted to a mate with common traits. The problem is we think we can choose these mates, get them to love us, and we in turn feel valued. We are trying to fix what our parents were capable of doing for us; meeting our need for love.

  • Pastors still very much blame the victim. I recently heard a pastor ask an abuse victim (after her spouse was arrested) if she was “giving him enough sugar”. Maybe pastors need to put that on the abuser?? Why isn’t he adding sweetness to the relationship?? It takes two to build a marriage, not just a doormat wife!

  • I loved the info here. I don’t think I have ever really heard it address this way. You know it is good when it brings memories right back.

  • Thank You for this, Shannon. My mother is married to a Narcopath. Narcissist/Socio/Psychopath. All her life pretty much all she ever heard from the pulpit was “wives submit” and my dad has used the same thing against her. He is very good at taking Scripture out of context. Finally, a Christian counselor who understands what it’s like and is making a difference, not just dumping the burden on the victim. God Bless You!

  • It’s true. That’s what kept me for 10 years past the breaking point. It never got better. This man, litterally, fought with the devil in his sleep he was living a double life.
    When I couldn’t hanf6on any longer is when he talked about hurting people (in the worst way), and let me know that I could be a target.
    There was a lot of confusion and crazy making for several years, and I tried to leave then, but threats were made. Those things only got worse.
    Be well. Stay close to God, and let him give peace to your heart and lead you.

  • The struggle is real!! I am currently sepatated from my husband of 13 years. The narcissism and emotional abuse coupled with pathological jealousy have seemed to escalate over the years, and I have battled back and forth with the poisoned fruit of our relationship and the Godly commitment I made when we got married. I am curious as to what degree of research has been done on genetic tendencies for this behavioral issue. I believe my husband’s mother and grandmother suffered from narcissism. Now I see his nephew as well as an aunt emotionally abusing their spouses as well. Oddly enough, both my husband’s mother and grandmother suffered from and were institutionalized with severe Alzheimer’s. Could there be connections?

    In this blog back in September, “Exhausted But Rocovering” mentioned the narcissist using the church as a refuge. That person was accurate. My husband had gone so far as to convince members of our church family (and my family, friends, co-workers and the “Christian” counselor we were seeing) that I am a “sex addict” based on his delusional jealousy. My prayers have only become more avid! Thank you for addressing this issue and solidifying the fact that all these prayers will not change my husband. I believe in miracles, but deep down know that I cannot hold my breath for this miracle!

  • Tonja Myers says:

    I wish that every pastor could sit in on a conference on this subject. I was married to a man who was abusive in every way but physically. And every sermon I heard focused on wives submitting, wives praying and being the one who just needed to accommodate. And I did. for 24 years. I really appreciate what you say about fruit, bad fruit in particular. My parents would always tell me they didn’t even know who I was any more. I changed who I was to try to make things ok for him, because I thought that was the Christian thing to do. I thought, “Oh, if I just pray, and be a good example, and be the bigger person, God will honor my obedience and change him”. But God only changes those who want to change and are able to see that they need to change. Anyways, all this is to say, Thank you. Thank you for writing truth. I am bookmarking your article and will send it those in my life who are struggling with this. God bless you!!!!

  • I have just read all the comments from christians like me going thru or have gone thru emotional abuse. A dear friend gave me proverbs 6:16-19!!

  • Hello so important to remember this very important fact, you are not a doormat! Christmas died to bring you life abundant! I married a narcissistic wife and was manipulated for over 20 years. Then, not learning the lesson, married a sociopathic wife! With much counseling, correct secular and correct Christian teaching, I was able to stand and divorce her the last year of an almost 4 year chaotic marriage. It took me 3 years of being treated the worse possible way for me to say no more of being a doormat.

  • brokenbutnotdestroyed says:

    Thank you for this article. I am realizing now that I was very fortunate in that I was only a “transitional target,” but I am struggling so much. I am reading Psychopath Free and it’s so helpful. It only occurred to me today to look into the dynamics of how I, as a Christian, interact with these toxic people. I am struggling with the fact that I never believed I was out of God’s will…why did He allow this? I prayed so much. But of course I will cling to my faith in Him because what else can I do? Again, thank you so so much for this affirming article.

  • The ex narcissist in my life was a clergyman in the army. He thought his word was God. I’m so confused. He screamed, raged, verbally abused me, cheated, lied, drank to extreme. Then he would switch gears and talk religion. Then switch back to being abusive. Made me lose a lot of faith. Help.

  • Alone on the Range says:

    I think another reason they don’t change, is that by the time they get to the point of a pattern of abuse that’s recognized, they had to make thousands of small choices to harden their hearts, worship at the altar of self, and disobey and defy God. God is able to save someone like that, if He chooses, but I think He often “gives them over” (Romans 1:24)to their own continual rebellion.

  • Earth Angel says:

    Yes, God can save a psychopath but the psychopath would have to admit that they need God’s help. The psychopath has a huge ego and they believe that they are superior to God.

  • Please dont lose hope. God know and sees. He loves you unconditionally. You need to leave him. Go somewhere safe. He has broken all wedding vows said to God. But keep praying for him too

  • vanessa w. says:

    I can tell you, from bitter, 30 years experience that ‘submissive wife’ sermons, teaching tapes, many many books..WILL NOT address the subject of an abusive husband, especially a psychopath. I wish I had ALL the money I wasted on this stuff; not to mention being SO ANGRY with God, for not fixing him, fixing ME so I could be a better wife, etc, etc..my faith life was just another weapon in his war against me; I still struggle with being a Christian..I don’t trust God as my Father. I still ask from time to time, WHERE WERE YOU when I was begging for help, or at least a listening ear? Why didn’t you answer my pleas for any kind of help? Conservative Christian teaching has NO answers for men like this; only to ‘pray and submit’..only when I gave up totally on ANY Christian literature on marriage/relationships, did I reach out and begin to find my way OUT. It took more years to get OUT. Conservative Christians all but forbid a woman to get a divorce..Im not sorry I quit listening to that.

  • Wow. I relate to so much of this! I thought I was done with it. But just as when we were married, if he couldn’t directly hurt me, he’d target the children to rile me up. The “children” are adults now and see me as the crazy one. Good thing I believe in God! I pray for you all!

  • If you are a man who has been telling yourself for years that you are just supposed to love your wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her and/or that you took vows to love honor and cherish for better or for worse, let me tell you something… you are deceived.
    After being married to a narcissistic woman for 25 years, those were the things I kept telling myself when she emotionally, verbally, and even physically abused me. I was deceived into believing that I was doing God’s will by remaining with her. I took her side against family, friends, church family, neighbors, and even my own children, because that’s what a loving husband does.
    She abused two of our daughters into running away from home. When I saw her starting on my 12 year old daughter, I said enough is enough. I told her I would not accept any more criticism in my home. I began confronting her on several issues that I’d been going along with for years and refused to listen to her excuses as to why it was my fault. She realized that she’d lost control over me and hooked up with a man she met online.
    She moved out and is living with him. Her continued emails consisted of more of her blame game and self-pity attempts. I made another decision to never read another word she writes.
    Looking back I can see a clear progression of her rejecting any spiritual authority over her life. When a pastor, elder, friend, anyone, confronted her on her behavior, she would rationalize a reason why that person was no longer valid to talk to her in that way. She began equating her will with God’s will. Her final step was to conclude that the entire Bible is no longer God’s Word, so she can pick and choose what she wants to believe from it.
    If any of this sounds familiar, please do yourself and those you love a favor and get as far away from her as possible. It will never stop.

  • Wonderful post! I have also seen so many narcissists claim the title of Christian and it can take a while before you see behind their Mask . And they are also claiming to be victims of narcissistic abuse themselves which is also deeply problematic because it becomes increasingly difficult to tell who the true victim is.

  • They are very clever and convincing. You get taken in over and over again, even when you are aware of past abuse.

  • I am so sorry you had to go through all of that and are still struggling to understand and trust God now. An amazing book I read addresses some the questions you just mentioned. It is not about narcissism or abuse, its about understanding God in the midst of your adversity, and when He is silent during it.
    Please read it, it truly changed my life in the most positive way possible and changed my perspective on everything. It is called “How to Handle Adversity” by Charles Stanley.

    I will be praying for you and I know that God will bless you and speak to you through this book!

    With love in the Lord,

  • vanessa walters says:

    I have about ALL of Dr. Stanley’s books; I know I have this one. I’ll have to re-read it. You don’t realize how often I cried, pleaded, begged God for help during my abusive marriage..and all I heard was….silence..a loud, deafening silence..no warm sense of comfort, or of any sensation of even being heard. If HE was there, in 29 years, I seldom had any clue. I still avoid the ‘submissive wife’ verses, Christian love/marriage books, or romances of any kind. Its still too painful.

  • Hope you are doing better. I was also the transitional target. Even though it was a short relationship and its been almost a year since our last interaction, Im still struggling with the aftermath of such an evil, manipulating, sick individual. I feel worthless.

    I recently found out he join a church group where he is targeting more women. My heart goes out to them or maybe he’ll change, who knows.

    I lost my faith, feel abandoned by God. It’s been hard. Hope it’ll get better someday soon

  • Thank you for your write up.everything u said I experienced in a four year relationship with my ex.I was on the verge of getting married to him when God delivered me two days to our wedding. He equates his will to Gods will and constantly rejects any form of spiritual gaudiance over his life…I still hurt cos I loved him but i know that God loves me more by delivering me.
    He is always never remorseful,always feel he is right and every other person is wrong,I feel like the devil himself took residence in our house because the only person I knw has so much pride and arrogance is the devil himself.To make matters worse his parents and sibblings don’t see anything wring in his attitude… They support him all ..the way.What a family!

  • Great article! I was in a relationship with a narc for over 6 years, off and on, and now I have accepted that it was not God’s will for me to be treated badly. The problem I am having now is just “getting myself back”. I have doubts about God loving me and even have a hard time feeling His presence at times. I am wondering how much of this is due to the abuse I put up with for so long. I definitely have forgiven the man and cut off all contact-I just want my old life back! Can you write on this? I would surely appreciate it. Thank you!

  • I stayed married to someone with NPD for 25 years trying to please God so hard, I never stopped to think if God even wanted that marriage for me. He was power hungry and would seek leadership positions in the church, all the while terrorizing his family behind closed doors. I have made amends to my children in regard to failing to protect them and we’re good now. I now share that very point with EVERY christian I meet. Not every marriage is God’s will and his desire is not that anyone (man or woman) be abused. Thank you for writing on this topic.

  • Bless you. You will be ok and find your faith again. Time is the one, time will help heal your heart and you will believe again. Be patient and you will feel it. Be kind to yourself and acknowledge that you have been through a lot. Take care 😘

  • I, too, have found much Christian counseling lacking in helping women in abusive relationships. These women need to get away to find their joy in the Lord. Many pastors are just enabling the abuser.

  • Jessica M. says:

    I see that your post is from 2016 so I’m not sure if you will receive this but its worth a shot. I am right there with you. I was married to a pastor who fit your description for 20 years. He destroyed my life, my reputation…just about everything. He even tried to steal my children but (thankfully) they have been able to see through his deception. I have no words of comfort other than to say I am furious with God as well. I have asked the same question you have…Where the hell were you?! Why didn’t you protect me? Why didn’t you protect my children. I hung in there for as long as I could b/c I was terrified of what he would do if I drew a line in the sand. Then I caught him being unfaithful and (get ready for this) he convinced our church that I was mentally insane, a pathological liar and an adulterer. And they believed him. They BELIEVED HIM!! The betrayal and pain I have suffered from everyone in my life (even my own parents were under his spell for a time) abandoning me is not something I think I will ever get over. I trust no one anymore…I can’t afford to. And while I’m too afraid to denounce God I also don’t trust Him. That’s the worst pain of all. I loved him so much…..and now I just don’t. Anyway, I don’t mean to bring you down…I just felt the need to tell you you are NOT alone in your confusion, doubt, and frustration..

  • Vanessa, it is okay to avoid those verses and books. They were used wrongly in your life. I bet you never heard that a husband is suppose to love his wife as Christ loved the church, and gave His life for her. it is not hard to give over to a selfless man who cares, protects, and values you.

  • Just because someone claims religion or claims God, doesn’t mean God claims them. Salvation is a changed life, a submitted life to a Lord. You did not have that picture. You had a lie before you. That doesn’t mean that is who Jesus Christ is. That person knew not Jesus Christ.

  • Common story. I would say you must become convinced boundaries are for their good, (just like you know they are good for a child) so you no longer encourage them to abuse you or others (called enabling). Enabling does not help anyone come to an end to themself. A Narcissistic person or Psychopath would have to reach an end point, to ever repent. They may never, but that is not your responsibility. You have done all you can. Forgiveness is used incorrectly. Most people believe forgive and forget. That is not Biblical. Even though God forgives and loves, He does not necessarily remove the consequence. There is another belief in Christianity, that you never hear, and that is that maybe God does not call us to forgive everyone. He does not forgive everyone. If a person doesn’t ask, where in the Bible is it that you have to? Who does He forgive who doesn’t ask? I know the 70 times 7 thing, but maybe that was for the askers. Why would God expect more from you than He expects from Himself. He doesn’t. Just don’t carry bitterness or malice in your heart, because God does address that. So look at it either of those two ways. You will be doing good for that abusive person, and you will be doing good for yourself, knowing God doesn’t hold you to this unreasonable forgiveness.

  • How did you known my sister-in-law and Special Director of the school district neighbor so well? See theft, back stabbing, and manipulation was my sister-in-law’s game. Using first year teachers to get at me has been my neighbor’s game. My SIL stripped me of everything I worked for in my life many times over. My neighbor stripped me of my reputation in the entire school district and my neighborhood, and the fallout still continues. I am a counselor myself, but one never stops learning, and the Lord allows people like this in one’s life sometimes to be able to build compassion and feel others’ pain.

  • MemphisSurvivor says:

    THANK YOU for talking about something so rarely discussed!!! I just went through this with my soon to be ex-husband (a Sociopath) The Christian Counselors and mentors were not educated and therefore made me feel worse! I Thank God that HE spared me a life time of misery. And thank you for such a spot in article.

  • I thought I had met a Spiritual Person at a Spiritual Class
    He is a compulsive liar, thief , no shame, guilt, empathy or conscience.
    But professes to be very Spiritual. Reads 10 Spiritual Books each day for an 1 1/2 hours.
    Angry an uses God’s name in vain.
    He is a fake
    He writes about Scynchonicties that THE “FATHER” continues to place women before him for his Lust
    Over and over. He writes how thankful he is that “Father” provides so many women his fantasies and Sexual Pleasures.
    I don’t think God would.
    He writes when their Eyes Met.
    Is 30 women to many for a Spiritual Person. I’ve read his claims SPIRITUAL THOUGHTS to be “Father’s Gift ” And claims that is Spiritual not Lust
    But gets mad when We run into. I introduce him to a Gentleman from my Church or Bible study. I have nothing to hide.

  • I am a marriage of 55 years just realizing he is a narcissist and am seeing a Christian therapist who is stressing the Christian way of forgiveness and stopping the negative defenses I have learned over the years to help me survive. Like you do your thing and I will do mine at least as much as this is possible being married to a narcissist. And still have to deal everything being my fault as well as feeling insane.

  • Thanks so much for this article. I have been dealing with a sociopath for over 8 years now and I have been finding it so hard to come to terms with the fact that he is never going to change. I have been praying and fasting for him to change but it seems as if the more I pray the more the abuse. If I say no to him, I will have to suffer otherwise for that. The name calling, violence will go on until I agree to please him begging for my life. Am done with the idea that I am supposed to be a good Christian to reach toxic people. I can’t fix someone that doesn’t seem to see anything wrong with his action.
    Although I have recently cut ties with him but the peace I have experienced so far is just too amazing and I wouldn’t want to disrupt that for anything. Am so confident with myself now and I feel like the sky is my limit.
    I am glad I finally flew the coop like a bird would do.

  • Brandy Kenny says:

    Please don’t give up on God. I lived a very similar life, but my choices led me to the consequences. God provided ways out, but I rejected them. He is there, you just have to stop blaming him and accept that we make our choices. Man (preachers) can lead us wrong as well, but again this is not God. This is man putting his two cents and not following God’s word because God says for the husband to LOVE his wife like Christ loved the church. I’m sorry people failed you, but the most important thing is that you are out! You are free! Thank God!

  • Lisa Bielawski says:

    I am living the same experience. I have even prayed God would take me to remove me from this pain. Thank you for sharing.

  • Oh how you have blessed me & confirmed so much. Praise the Lord & thank you for letting Him speak thru you.

  • Wow, Ruthie. Your counselor sounds like how my pastor’s wife sounded. She told me the same thing, just do your thing and let him do his thing. She suggested that I live upstairs and he downstairs. I told her, that’s not a marriage. She knew almost everything that had taken place, and she still told me to stay with him. Towards the end, she finally was supportive of my decision. She knew I loved him but I could not let him continue to hurt me. We were married for 11 years, the second marriage for both of us. We had separated before, about 3 1/2 years ago. I left him and 4 months later we got together and talked for hours. He told me he had not changed. He told me that he told himself he didn’t love me, he didn’t need me and he didn’t want me, but he did. After I heard that everything else went on deaf ears. I didn’t hear the part where he said he hadn’t changed. I can see so clearly now that it was all about him and nothing was about my needs or wants. I was hurt even more after we reunited. Some horrendous things happened. I’ve been away for two weeks now. I don’t regret it.

  • This is the answer to my questions to God, couldn’t understand my husbands actions and I always wanted to believe that he could change, prayed and prayed for years and like a lot I always asked God where He was or why He could have allowed such cruelty towards me. Finally I accept the fact that has not been my fault, my husband will never change and I have to take care of me and let him go. Very interesting article and grateful for it.

  • I was married to my ex Narc for 46 years and finally left. I too stayed because I felt it was my Christian duty. I am truly thankful for this article, all the religious abuse out in the world, makes it so hard for women to leave abusive relationships. I felt so guilty leaving even knowing he had relations with other women. I have never read any Christian articles that said it was ok to leave until I came across this one. Thank you so much, a huge burden has been lifted after reading this article and all the comments. I’m feeling empowered to move forward, without feeling such guilt, wondering if I did the right thing.

  • Amen Stephanie! I’m so glad to know I am not alone in this! Congratulations on getting out & renewing your closeness to Christ! This is what I am doing too! I’m finally walking in God’s will for my life without allowing any more interference from this! Now, I feel very equipped to know what to look for, & I am armed with God’s power, knowledge, & wisdom…as are you. May God bless you & keep you strong!

  • I appreciate the efforts you people put in to share blogs on such kind of topics; it was really helpful. You have done excellent work in passing out the message through this blog, keep it up the good work!

  • Forgiving someone in any way does not mean that you should let yourself been ” enslaved” by that person. If someone wants forgiveness, the person ” should recognize” his wrongdoings toward you “genuinely” and ask for forgiveness ” genuinely”. Forgiveness does not exclude ” caution” .
    You can forgive a person ” in your heart” in front of the Lord because that s the remedy for anger/ resentment/ grudges but without letting the person know neither in words nor in actions that you took that step, if the person is abusive, malicious and manipulative. If you can totally cut loose and avoid the person, do it! You do not in any way have to return to the person or expose yourself again in order to forgive. It is about ” self preservation”. Forgiving does not mean you should expose yourself to repetitive harm or stay trapped in abuse because, you are not doing any good to the perpetrator, on the contrary, you are beeing a mean, a free way for and to evildeeds. Forgive in silence and pray in silence for the total conversion of the person but also do everything possible to protect yourself and to recover the peace/joy/ hope that were stolen from you!

  • Susan Hazlehurst says:

    I was at a church like that for 33 years of my marriage! I now am at a church where I am cared for and they understand me!!

  • This really helped me as I navigate divorce of a narcissist, borderline spouse. The church really does not have the resources to help those in these relationships. This one article has given me affirmation and truth that is such a rare and precious commodity right now. Thank you. Thank you so much.

  • I love this article. I too am a Christian woman and was told many of the same things. I need to be a better wife, pray for him, etc. He abused me for 17 years and the topper was watching him carry on his affair for 3 years right in front of me.

    I prayed for years to change his heart. I prayed to change mine. I eventually got that “righteous anger” and told him he needed to change or leave. He left, the abuse continues through the court system and now through our teenage boys. These people are sick and they do not change because their poor behavior has benefited them for so long.

  • Thankful for finding these comments, and realizing we all struggle with the guilt of breaking our vows 🙁 I was married almost 30 years. There were/ are so many things I love about this man, but the unpredictable rages were scary. The kids remember them too. There was also the silent treatment which actually caused me more pain than anything. Anyway, attempts to try and talk about the hurt it caused was usually met with denial, rage, or blame. I prayed a lot too and was getting mad at God. I’m 2 years out, but still have dreams most every night about him, some are heart wrenching, because he is kind in some of them…I’m always relieved he is back, but frightened to be alone and with intimacy….knowing after so much hurt, my body probably wouldn’t be able to respond, I still hurt every day, missing the husband I wanted to have. It just never changed, and he told me he wouldn’t try. He said there was nothing left between us one time when I addressed some hurtful behavior. I begged and cried for him to stay. I didn’t want a divorce, just wanted him to stop the fear tactics. He seemed so cold and didn’t even care after 30+ years of our lives together. Leaving was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’m still very sad and miss him..the side I wanted to see. I pray everyday for him. Thanks for the help. Love to you all

  • I️ understand how you feel. As a man married to a narcissist for 37 years I️ heard the so called servant husband message the live with her in an understanding way message and yes as Christ died for the church message. All were used manipulate me and use me.
    The torture I’ve felt feeling that I’ve let God down etc was intense. Until I️ realized that He WAS there and Answering prayers but SHE wasn’t listening to Him
    He did love me and once I️ truly understood His Grace I️ began to heal.
    I’m still married but by choice at the moment not by guilt. I️ am as you are a much loved child of God.
    Just how hideous the world is and people can be gives rise to the realization of the need for my Savior.

  • What wonderful information this is!! I have been searching for months on this topic but just as we know, it happens only when God makes the timing perfectly!! I have learned many, many lessons over the past 6 months and this is just another lesson learned!! My point is WAKE up, know you cannot change the narrassistist in your life!! For the past 6 months, I felt it was my duty, ABSOLUTELY not!! The fruit is poison, DO NOT EAT IT!! Live each day for Christ and you will never go wrong!! He will make sure of that if only you let him!!

  • I understand! I was married to a woman with Borderline Personality Disorder. I was hit, verbally abused (daily), stabbed and when I left her, she hit me (e.g. my body, not my car) with her car twice, sending me to the hospital once. Sounds like I married “trailer trash,” doesn’t it? Nope! She was from a very wealthy family and a professing Christian. At the time of the marriage, I was an assistant pastor and attending seminary.
    The things she did weighed on me for years. As I look back, I doubted God’s presence as a result of the abuse. On the other hand, He did not force me to marry her, I chose her with the most objective/ dysfunctional thinking I had available at the time.
    You are in pain, at the present, but, as a result of your experiences, you possess knowledge few people have. It can be used for God’s glory. Healing may take time, but, it will come.

  • I am reading your comments here and want you to know that It is possible to find a new life. I am happily married to a wonderful husband that I met 30 yrs ago after a horrific first marriage to a man that was murdered by his neighbor 10 yrs ago for sexually assaulting the mans son. The 2 yrs I was with him were the worst of my life. My husband now also ended an abusive relationship at the same time and we healed and educated ourselves together over the years about these type of people and to avoid them. We made these bad relationship decisions when we were young because we were raised by abusive parents and siblings and just accepted it as normal until we realized that no amount of prayer or conversations would change them because they do not believe anything is wrong with them. I too felt GOD let me down until we moved 20 hrs away from our families. We love our new life away from them ! I have blocked their abusive calls and text and only communicate with sane family who feel the same as we do about them. God is listening and you have to be strong and leave the relationship. No more excuses and do not feel guilty or let anyone stop you!

  • Is not about God. Is the misinterpretation of the Bible, God did not created us to be abused by someone else because he wouldn’t. The Bible is clear. If you get closer to God and ask him to show you the way, he will. Believe me I was there and only God in his mighty power took me out. God has nothing to do with abuse.

  • This confirms everything I wish I’d known years ago and recently realized/accepted. Thank you so much!

  • Wounded Sister says:

    You have accurately described my (and my siblings’) relationship with my sister for the past 40 years. I am only just now finally realizing we are not just dealing with a “troubled” person, but with a psychopath. It’s been a lifetime of walking on eggshells. Lies, twisting things, aggressive outbursts, pounding us from behind a computer screen, always playing the victim, exhibiiting no remorse for her actions or acknowledgment that she wounded anyone, charismatically turning the hearts of the greater family against us, “divorcing” herself from us for months at a time. And i would keep trying to reach out, to begin again, as a Christ follower to take the higher road and extend love, only to be wounded again and again, while all the while being blamed by her that I/we are excluding HER. Unlike a marriage, which can be terminated for abuse, we are glued at the hip because we are family, and it is so hard trying to maintain some semblance of a relationship. Recognizing what I am dealing with can now at least provide me with the tools I need to protect myself when communication does take place.

  • Vanessa, As bad as this sounds I am so glad I’m not alone in that struggle! I have been with my husband 17 year have 4 children and have put up with so much and honestly to much to write but it seems to me you probably already know. I have prayed,begged, pleaded, and cryed for so long needing the Lord to change him/ change me, help me make tjis work and heard Nothing!!! I now believe i heard notjong because he (God) was telling me NO! Sometimes our answer is no. I truly loved my husband and he is a covert narsisst! I am sad things could not have been different for him and I but I am glad I no longer cry as much and am slowly moving on and forward. At times our ego gets on the way even when we don’t see it and for me no wasn’t an option I had to make it work God wouldn’t want it any other way and I didn’t either but I was wrong ! My answer was no and I am now strong with God than before! Keep smiling girl things will change.
    Best wishes :Brei

  • Sharie Heading Deal says:

    Amen…. Brandy.. I too am finding myself in a narcisst sociopath marriage. I did not recognize the signs, because at first I was not looking, I didn’t even think about meeting a person like that. He seemed normal. Everyone has issues and personality quirks I just never understood their were people out there like this. My daughter saw the signs and started educating me on them and it was only then that I began to really see them all and 6 out of 10 came into view. I began to understand the kids and decide and betrayal and I began to look for evidence to use to regain my reputation to his family and friends that he is either taking credit for or trying to destroy me with. Becoming angry… Instead if being best friends, I am now realizing that GOD would not want me in a relationship with some one who has cheated and lied to me. But lies and says he is not doing that.
    Breaking free because I believed if I prayed hard enough to GOD to help him change, I am told is not an option… by my daughter. I am sad and devastated to have to believe that there is “No Hope” for this person I fell in love with, to change his life and come to GOD. As a Christian woman I know I must find answers and I am seeking those answers.

  • Hi Rob. I’m sorry. Can empathise as I am doing the same. Take better care and be vigilant next time round

  • Oh my…….EXACTLY!! There is no help for women in church for these predatory life forms. This sounds like my life/thoughts duplicated in your comments. Maybe we escaped, learned and can be the help that others need going through this manipulation.

  • I just want to say thank you for the article. I’m in the middle of making a huge decision. Leave or stay. I’m coming out of a dark depression that fell upon me when my husband of 36 years shot my little dog. He said he was totally justified in it because it nipped at our grandson. It happened because our grandson snuck up on the little dog. This was just the last thing in a long line of abuses and paybacks that were all my fault. I’m struggling with ever being able to be in a relationship with my husband again. I cannot imagine ever being able to be close to him or to be able to trust him with my heart or feelings. I’m praying that God would heal my heart and help me to follow His will. That He would give me strength to stay or leave. I’m in limbo, just trying to make it through from one day to the next.

  • This article is Biblically correct, and oh…so spot on! I’m NOT the 4th Person of the Trinity!
    Although God did change Saul to Paul in a drastic way, He had a purpose. The narcissistic psychopath sociopath must open their own eyes first, surrender and then can live a changed life! Thank you for freeing bondage thoughts I had of my ex! His only hope is Jesus!

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