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Is God a Self-absorbed Narcissist?

God’s purpose in many (if not all) of his behaviors is to glorify himself. At first blush, this seems egomaniacal, or arrogant, or selfish, or even narcissistic. Consider his undisguised aim at promoting his own renown. In Isaiah 48:9-11 he unequivocally says that he defers his anger from a treacherous and rebellious people for the sake of his name , and for the sake of his glory . It isn’t for the comfort of his chosen people. In 1 Samuel 12:22, he avoids forsaking his people for his name’s sake. In the famous Psalm 23:1-3, he leads us in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake . In Psalm 31:3, he leads and guides us for his name’s sake . This is a repeated concept throughout the entire bible – both old testament and new.

But if God is truly good — and there is an overwhelming number of reasons to believe that he is — then the fact that he is overtly focused on self-glorification cannot be any of those evil things. Whatever it is that we perceive about his character of self-glorification must be something other than narcissism, arrogance or selfishness. But what good can come from his self-glorification that isn’t one of those evil things? Perhaps the answer can be found in the concept of profaneness. Notice in Ezekiel 20:9 that God acts for his name’s sake in order that his name won’t be profaned. To profane something means to disrespect it, or remove it from its sacredness, or to place it in conflict with that which is good. Profane language is considered disrespectful. It removes language from its sacred position of good communication, and it is rarely used for anything other than conflict. Pornography is considered profane because it removes healthy human behavior from it’s sacred context and places it where it will produce lustful conflicts in those who see it. It disrespects God’s intent for human unions.

God glorifies himself, because he is the ultimate example of what is good. To profane his name is to take away that beacon from fallen people who without it will lift themselves up high, and then become an example for others to emulate. Profaning the image of God falsely places other images on par with his, and thereby takes away from the goodness he has to offer.

Finally, people are made to enjoy God. If he is profaned, then we miss that pleasure, and our focus is taken away from that which should be our highest joy. We then cannot rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4), or delight ourselves in him (Psalm 37:4), or shout for joy from our upright hearts (Psalm 32:11). No. God is not a narcissist. He loves us, and his glory and magnificence are, in the end, the beacon that calls us, and the name that separates us from that which is not good (Matthew 19:29, Matthew 24:9, Revelation 2:3).

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