Sunday Devotional: ‘Every one who exalts himself will be humbled’

Sirach 3:17-18

My child, conduct your affairs with humility,
and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts.
Humble yourself the more, the greater you are,
and you will find favor with God.

The opposite of humility is narcissism or grandiosity — the exaltation and excessive love of your self. As such, narcissism is an offense against God because it violates the first of the Ten Commandments:

“I am the Lord your God: you shall not have strange gods before me.”

As American culture becomes increasingly corrupt, it’s no accident that studies testify to a corresponding increase in narcissism “across the board,” in the words of San Diego State University psychology professor Jean Twenge, the author of Generation Me (Free Press, 2006).

As recounted by Dan Zak for Washington Post, narcissism and one of its behavioral manifestations — entitlement — among college students have increased steadily since 1979. The data are clear: The ascent of narcissism and entitlement is dramatic. Professor Twenge observed:

“What we really have is a culture that has increasingly emphasized feeling good about yourself and favoring the individual over the group. And that has happened across the board, culturally, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. I have a 14-month-old daughter, and the clothing available to her has ‘little princess,’ or ‘I’m the boss,’ or ‘spoiled rotten’ written on it. This is what we’re dressing our babies in. Schools have programs designed to boost self-esteem. Parents say things like, ‘You shouldn’t care what other people think of you.’ We’re inundated with the notions of ‘feeling special,’ ‘believing in yourself’ and ‘be anything you want to be.'”

For that reason, Twenge coined the term “iGeneration” (“i” as in both iPod and “me, me, me”) for the Millennials — those born in the general range of 1981 to 1999.

It is also no accident that the cultural rot and increase in narcissism “across the board” are accompanied by a dramatic increase in overt and coarsened sexuality, which permeats everything.

In a 1992 encyclical, Pastores Dabo Vobis, Pope/St. John Paul II explained the cause-and-effect connection between licentious (or unrestrained) sexuality and narcissism — the adulation of the self:

“…that outlook on human sexuality according to which sexuality…becomes degraded and thereby reduced to nothing more than a consumer good. In this case, many young people undergo an affective experience which, instead of contributing to a harmonious and joyous growth in personality which opens them outward in an act of self-giving, becomes a serious psychological and ethical process of turning inward toward self, a situation which cannot fail to have grave consequences on them in the future. In the case of some young people a distorted sense of freedom lies at the root of these tendencies. Instead of being understood as obedience to objective and universal truth, freedom is lived out as a blind acquiescence to instinctive forces and to an individual’s will to power.… On the religious level, such a situation, if it does not always lead to an explicit refusal of God, causes widespread indifference and results in a life which, even in its more significant moments and more decisive choices, is lived as if God did not exist.”

It is also no accident that all of these “Do As Thou Wilt” cultural indicators are accompanied by, not just the tolerance, but the celebration of homosexuality and transgenderism.

Psychiatrist Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons, with more than 35 years of clinical experience treating homosexuals, including homosexual priests, said in a 2011 interview that “Narcissism — a personality disorder in which an insatiable need for admiration often leads to attention-seeking behavior — is prevalent among men who struggle with homosexuality.”

 

And what’s the antidote to narcissism?

The right kind of love.

The Greatest Commandment of all is to love God with your whole heart, your whole soul, your whole mind, and with all your strength.

Luke 14:11

“…For every one who exalts himself will be humbled,
but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

May the peace and love and humility of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you,

~Eowyn

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