Often, modernism or ecumenism is identified as the cancer that is eating away at Christianity (forgive the cancer reference, but I have it on the brain right now). I believe, however, that one of the diseases from which these other symptoms emerge is narcissism, and that it not only affects Christianity, but society as a whole.
Focusing exclusively on Christianity, however, when a woman says, “‘And all mankind’ makes me feel excluded,” she is being narcisssistic. The church and its worship is not about her, or me, or how it may make us feel. It is about worshipping God. Period. My feelings, exclusion, political correctness, all of these are substituting ourselves as the focus of worship. Further, it is narcissistic to the point of dishonesty, as she knows that “mankind” is a gender-neutral word, as is “man.” By insisting that it is not, she is placing herself at the center, and demanding that the liturgy revolve around her.
The crucial concept here is substitute. Narcissism is not merely injected into worship. It replaces God with oneself. It is the purest, most heinous blasphemy. And it goes far further than just wanting “inclusive” language.
Churches can be divided into two groups: Those who view worship as worshipping God, with God at its center; and those who view worship as affirmation of one’s essential goodness, in which God plays no real part. Liberal, mainstream Protestants fall into the second category, as do the Episcopalians. The church is there to make everybody feel good about themselves, whether it is because they are attracted to members of the same sex, or whether it is because they want to grandstand about how open-minded they are about those attracted to the same sex (or pick your favorite liberal issue). Deacon Greg has a couple of examples of narcissism, here and here, and Scelata, here. In fact, there are so many examples of how we have made ourselves God and pushed God out of worship that it’s almost ridiculous to point them out.
Because naricissm replaces God with ourselves, it is fundamentally anti-Christian. Giving in to the narcissistic demands of others is fundamentally anti-Christian. That the church for two thousand years did not confuse the roles of men and women within it is the supreme argument against confusing those roles now, whether by allowing girls access to the Holy Table or creating a deaconess — not the historical deaconess, but the functional equivalent of a deacon — for women. It is not that women have no role within the Church; it is that narcissistic women demand that the roles of men be opened unto them, an entirely different issue. These women have no theological argument other than how they feel — their own narcissism.
Were I a bit less foggy from the morphine, I would argue that the two forces most destructive to Christianity and by extension, civilization, are narcissism and the social gospel. I have dealt some with the meta-heresy of the social gospel in this article. Unfortunately, it has a far more insidious hold than narcissism, and the two will destroy what realms of Christianity eschew God for feelings.
(The particular expression of narcissism I have chosen ties in with another issue Leon J. Podles addressed in his thought provoking historical study, The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity which he has placed online here. I just discovered that he’d placed it online — I own a hardcover — and may well blog it more now that I can provide online links.)
Now, a church is certainly primarily a place for worship, but it isn’t entirely so. A church is also a social unit, a community, a network of missions, a body that has all kinds of social functions. Yet all of these are subsumed by the church as a place of worship, and although one needn’t be as mindful of narcissism in more social contexts, one should still be on guard that it doesn’t bleed over into worship. Once God has been displaced, there is no more worship, and no more church, only a social club.