• Christianity Isn’t About Politeness, Introversion is Not Sinful, and Your Complementarian Biblical Interpretation is Incorrect: Addressing the ‘Don’t Be Yourself’ Essay by Greg Morse

Christianity Isn’t About Politeness, Introversion is Not Sinful, and Your Complementarian Biblical Interpretation is Incorrect: Addressing the ‘Don’t Be Yourself’ Essay by Greg Morse

Below I provide you with a link to a paper by Greg Morse on the “Desiring God” site, where he declares that introversion is sinful, and he argues (among other things) that strong-willed women are in a state of sin, and need to repress their God-given, strong-willed personalities in order to be properly submissive to a husband.

There are many reasons why I’ve been doubting the Christian faith over the last few years. (I accepted Christ as my Savior when I was a kid but now wonder if the faith is a bunch of bunk or if it’s meaningful or useful to me or for me.)

The following editorial at the Desiring God website is one of those sorts of things that pushes me just a lit bit further away from the faith.

This editorial on the “Desiring God” site, by a Greg Morse, Don’t Be Yourself, is the sort of thing that makes me step back, look at the faith, and ask myself, “Do I really want to be a part of something that teaches and believes this sort of thing?”

Before an obnoxious Christian chimes in to say, “But I follow Jesus Christ, not Greg Morse!,” I should explain that again, this is just one small example of many that adds up to make me think that Christianity is irrelevant and even harmful. (I too do not worship Greg Morse or consider Morse a deity, by the way.)

I’d also tell such obnoxious Christians that until and unless you experience some deeply painful things in your own life (as I have in mine the last few years) that really causes you to question the faith, you’re not bound to really, really deeply wonder if Christianity is true, or, even if it is, what good does it do me in my daily  life?

It’s easy to live the Christian life on an “I only follow Jesus, not men, so what Christian men do in the name of Christ doesn’t bother me” auto-pilot if your life is more or less going the way you want, or if nothing painful or incredibly stressful is going on in your life. But I’m not living on a Christian auto-pilot any more, so I do question things more now.

Maybe this Greg Morse is a nice guy. But I don’t like his essay, Don’t Be Yourself.

These are a few of the things Morse had to say on that page, and I will discuss below why I disagree with this:

[Morse opens by describing some crude, rude, or gross behavior by a woman]

…And none could take offense because, as everyone was fond of reminding themselves, “That’s just how she was.”

…And well-mannered was not who she was. Politeness was not at the core of her. Rumor had it, she was born this way.

…Don’t Be Yourself

“Just be yourself,” “keep it real,” and “keep it 100” are life slogans for many in our day. And when they are, authenticity often takes precedence over courtesy, self-actualization triumphs over self-discipline, and the self — whoever it may be — is to be celebrated and never censured.

And subtly, we can adopt this philosophy in the church. Even though every imperative in the Bible protests against it, every identification of sin condemns it outright, every discussion of holiness and God’s judgment warns against believing it, we too excuse sin tendencies as our personalities.

  • Oh, her? She’s just strong-willed and independent. That’s why she doesn’t submit to her husband.
  • Him? Don’t worry, he isn’t trying to be inhospitable and cold towards everyone. He’s just shy and introverted.
  • Yeah, he doesn’t lead spiritually, but don’t fret. He just doesn’t go deep — that’s not who he is.
  • Why isn’t she growing in her knowledge of God’s word? Because she just isn’t a reader.
  • Why does it seem like he flirts with every girl he meets? Don’t read too much into it. He just has a playful personality — that’s just the way he is.

This unassailable sense of self is contrary to biblical thinking. Our personality must bow to God’s standards, never vice versa.

  • Wives, submit to your husbands, whether you’re strong-willed or not.
  • Introverts, be hospitable and kind, even if your inclination is to stow away for time alone.
  • Husbands, lead your wife and wash her with the word, even if you’d prefer to just keep it light and casual.

You can visit this link to read the remainder.

I object to about everything Morse said in his essay.

You’ll note in the above list that Morse believes that women must change – if they are strong, they need to dumb themselves down and act small and weak. I addressed such thinking in this older post:

Complementarians Ask Women and Girls to Be Small To Make Men Feel Big

Guys like Morse will try to frame this as “God is asking you ladies to make yourselves smaller, it’s in the Bible!,” (no, it’s not in the Bible), but I believe the true motive is that these guys are either power and control hungry, or, they are deeply insecure.

As someone who was raised by gender complementarian parents to be complementarian, and who was mildly to moderately verbally abused and shamed by certain family members from the time I was a kid, I learned at a young age to not be the “real” me.

I was taught I was not good enough the way I was. I should always present myself a certain way around other people.

I wasn’t exactly fake – because I detest phoniness – but I wasn’t permitted, by my parents, to be fully authentic, either.

I was taught that I was shameful, though it was never explained to me just what I did to make me shameful, or why I was shameful. I was shameful just for having been born and for existing. I didn’t often allow others to see the real, authentic me, which is what Morse is suggesting I continue to do.

As part of being raised a gender complementarian, and in the southern United States, no less, where cultural norms dictate one should care very much about how one is perceived, I was taught to be lady-like – always polite.

I was taught it would be unladylike to show anger or annoyance. I had to take any anger or annoyance and repress it, to the point I was taught to silently tolerate abuse and exploitation.

And of course, I was taught to mind my manners: to say “please,” “thank you,” and not to belch in front of others. I had all that stuff down pat.

I lived my life that way for decades. And living life that way – the way Morse is suggesting – causes low self esteem, resentment, it ruins relationships, and one will be targeted by unscrupulous or abusive people.

I’m fine with being polite, but I’m afraid what Morse is advocating in his essay goes beyond ordinary politeness and delves into recommending codependent behavior. I already lived that way for many years, it does not work, so I pass.

Christianity is not about being well-mannered, polite, agreeable, “nice,” or refraining from belching or refraining from chewing food with one’s mouth open in front of guests.

Christians are supposed to emulate Jesus – all of Jesus – not Greg Morse’s idea of proper behavior, nor gender complementarian gender role teachings.

And sometimes, following Jesus and taking Jesus’ cue in what to do in life means a woman is not going to behave, or should behave, in the way that complementarians such as John Piper, Greg Morse, and others say, think, and teach.

If you’d like to read more on that, I refer you to these resources by Paul Coughlin or by Jennifer Degler:

No More Christian Nice Girl by Paul Coughlin

Here are snippets from that page:

Though Jesus was not a model of compliance or “good behavior,” often women try to put a positive, non-threatening spin on everything he did, acting like public relations spokeswomen covering for a bungling political candidate.  They end up doing damage control for the Son of God—and damaging themselves in the process.

Fortunately, Jesus Christ doesn’t need damage control or help from an image consultant.

As presented in the Gospels, Jesus is most definitely not one-sided.  He is the complete embodiment of healthy, balanced human personality; thus, Jesus is immensely compassionate, kind, and gracious while also being assertive, forceful, and firm when necessary.  He is good, but he’s definitely not “nice” or as safe as many Christians want to believe.

He is a Savior who was fully aware of his actions and words as he lived on earth in human form for thirty-three years.

He is also a Savior who says in Matthew 16:24, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Not “follow me when I’m nice,” but “follow me.”  No qualifiers, just a straightforward command to walk his walk and talk his talk, whether that walk and talk appears nice or not.

There are several profound problems associated with portraying Jesus as the nicest person to ever skip across ancient soil.  First, it’s a misrepresentation of Scripture.

Presenting half of Jesus (even if it is the gentle half) as the total sum of Jesus requires ignoring almost twenty percent of the verses in the Gospels.  That’s just wrong.

Second Timothy 3:16-17 teaches that “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  Every verse about Jesus is in the Bible because God wants it there to develop believers into an accurate image of Christ.  And yes, that includes verses where women may wince at the forceful side of Jesus.

Second, a narrow focus on the sweet side of Jesus gives women the idea that God wants Christians to behave sweetly in all situations.  Here’s the problem: Jesus says in Matthew 5:13, “You are the salt of the earth,” not the sugar of the earth.  Yes, sugar is delicious, particularly in chocolate desserts.  However, salt is infinitely more useful than sugar.

…Salt, unlike sugar, is necessary for human life.  In Mark 9:50, Jesus says “Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other,” making a clear connection between being like salt and being at peace with others.

Your mother may have said, “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar,” but Jesus wants you to do far more than manipulate people with saccharine pseudo-Christianity.  He wants you to be useful in his kingdom and to find following his salty-sweet example practical in everyday life and relationships.

… Following the example of an artificially sweet Jesus leads to frustration and has even caused some to walk away from their faith altogether because this example doesn’t work well in real life.  How could it?  It’s fake.

Third, portraying Jesus as Mr. Manners in sandals gives the impression that politeness pretty much sums up what it means to be Christ-like.  The problem here is that hurt people are not drawn toward perfectly nice people.  Folks don’t look toward women with perfect etiquette for help when life comes crashing down.

Hurting people look toward individuals who, like Jesus, have both fire and compassion in their eyes, individuals who inspire and who will speak the truth in love—even if it stings.

…A fourth and final serious problem occurs when the Lion of Judah is misrepresented as a precious little lamb: women lose Christ’s complete example of authentic goodness, and over time, begin to sanctify and pursue false niceness instead of true goodness.  They substitute something similar for the real thing, guaranteeing disappointing results.
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Dr. Jennifer Degler: No More Christian Nice Girl

Snippets:

CBN.com: What do you mean by “nice”?

Dr. Jennifer Degler: It is a shocking title [for a book], No More Christian Nice Girl. Why would any good Christian woman in her right mind not want to be nice? And if you’re talking about kind and compassionate and caring, then yes, women should be nice.

But, far too often the niceness that Christian women display is not a true niceness that’s motivated by love, it’s motivated by fear.

It’s a plastic pleasantness that you’re smiling through gritted teeth because they are afraid of someone’s rejection, or not getting somebody’s approval, disappointing or angering people, and so they’re not being authentic.

CBN.com: Your book also talks about peace-making verses peace-faking. As women, how can we recognize the difference?

Dr. Degler: It’s really about what is your heart motivation. If you’re making peace, because that is really what God would have done in that situation, that is His will, then you are a peace-maker.

The Bible says: “Blessed are the peace-makers.”

But far too often Christian nice girls are peace-faking, so on the outside they’re going along to get along.

On the inside, they’re saying “no”. But on the outside, they’re saying “yes”, and Jesus addressed that and said, “Simply let your yes be yes and your no be no, anything else comes from the evil one.” Their outsides don’t match up with their insides, so they’re peace-fakers.

CBN.com: What quality should we really be striving for that combats the niceness that we’re used to?

Dr. Degler: Bottom line is Ephesians 4:15, speaking the truth in love. And so a woman needs to ask herself, “Am I speaking the truth here, or am I actually lying by covering up my real needs, my wants, my desires, my opinion? Am I just buying into the nice girl culture that says, ‘if you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all.’”

Jesus didn’t follow that rule. And we don’t have to follow that rule either.
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Morse expresses concern that people today are more into “self actualization” than they are self-discipline. That may be true, but a person does not have to choose “either – or.” A person can self-actualize as well as be self disciplined.

I’ve been very self-disciplined over my life.

For years, and even now, I jog five days a week and sometimes go on long walks and on bike rides in addition to the jogging, and I keep my caloric intake at 1,200 calories six days a week, to stay thin and in shape.

I’m still a virgin, though I am in my mid-40s, and though I was engaged years ago and spent time alone with my ex fiance’ at that time – I was waiting until I got married to have sex, and as I never married, I’m still sexually abstinent.

So, Mr. Morse, I’ve lived life as you say in your essay it should be lived, but it does not work.

I’d say I think I have the self-discipline part down just fine. What I never achieved was the self-actualization that Morse derides (but I’ve been working on that).

Ever since I’ve kicked some of these Christian teachings to the curb, I’ve been a little happier. Doing much of the reverse of what Morse talks about in his essay has brought me more satisfaction and inner peace.

Complementarianism

Again, here is what Morse says about marriage:

And subtly, we can adopt this philosophy in the church. Even though every imperative in the Bible protests against it, every identification of sin condemns it outright, every discussion of holiness and God’s judgment warns against believing it, we too excuse sin tendencies as our personalities.

  • Oh, her? She’s just strong-willed and independent. That’s why she doesn’t submit to her husband.

I have a blog post explaining how gender complementarianism – all this talk about one-sided female- to- male submission that Morse supports – is not only unbiblical, but it is identical to codependency – and codependency is not biblical.

I’m over 40 years of age, have never been married. Supposing I am naturally “strong- willed and independent,” what would Morse have to say about that? If your complementarianism does not ask a strong-willed and independent single woman to act weak and passive, why would it ask a married one to do so?

Pretending to be someone who you are not, all so you can win or keep a man, is not going to work. Your relationship will die eventually.

Why would any man want his wife to be fake, to act as though she is something she is not?

If you’d like further reading on why women are not called to unilateral submission to a husband, please see these sites:

Christians For Biblical Equality

Junia Project

I also believe that Ruth Tucker may have a question or two for Morse about all this womanly submission stuff; please see:

A Question for Complementarians from Ruth Tucker

Introversion

Again, here is what Morse says:

And subtly, we can adopt this philosophy in the church. Even though every imperative in the Bible protests against it, every identification of sin condemns it outright, every discussion of holiness and God’s judgment warns against believing it, we too excuse sin tendencies as our personalities.

…Him? Don’t worry, he isn’t trying to be inhospitable and cold towards everyone. He’s just shy and introverted.
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The sexism Morse is peddling under complementarianism is repugnant, but this part of his piece, where he actually says that introversion is sin infuriates me more, perhaps because I am so accustomed to most Christians defending sexism (what they call complementarianism) that I’m rather accustomed to it, so my outrage meter doesn’t get as worked up.

But insulting introverts in this fashion? I have been introverted my entire life, and introversion is not a sin. I deeply resent this guy equating introversion to sin.

I’d like for him to produce a Bible verse or passage that condemns introversion. He won’t be able to produce a single verse or passage that says as much.

The characters in the Bible range from introvert to extrovert and have all other personality traits in-between, and none of these traits are said by God to be sinful. How dare Morse suggest otherwise.

HSPs – Sensory Processing Sensitivity

I don’t know if this is true for all or most introverts, but I am an introvert who is also what is called a HSP (Highly Sensitive Person).

I first learned of HSP through an online acquaintance of mine, after I told her the following:

I am sensitive to too much stimulation – crowds, sights, sounds, smells – too many and too much of that all at once gives me anxiety and makes me nervous, I find it difficult to think straight or function.

I must be in a quiet, low-key environment to connect well or meaningfully with others, to concentrate, to remain calm, and to produce my best work.

I cannot change my introverted or HSP nature to suit Morse or people like him.

My way of thinking and being is attuned a certain way – and it’s not a “sin.”

I do not choose to be sensitive to stimuli, it just is what it is. I was born an introvert; it was not a choice I made.

HSP Resources

For more about HSP, please see:

9 Signs You’re A Highly Sensitive Person 

Snippet:

Sensitive people get a bad rap. Research suggests that genes are responsible for the 15-20% of people who qualify as “highly sensitive.”

Psychologist Elain Aron has studied this phenomenon extensively, and using MRI scans of highly sensitive people’s brains, she’s found that they experience sounds, feelings, and even the presence of other people much more intensely than the average person.
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Sensory processing sensitivity

Sensory processing sensitivity (SPS), a personality trait, a high measure of which defines a highly sensitive person (HSP), has been described as having hypersensitivity to external stimuli, a greater depth of cognitive processing, and high emotional reactivity
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Are You a Highly Sensitive Person? Should You Change?

Snippet:

As it turns out, there is actually research on this innate trait, high sensitivity. The scientific term is “sensory-processing sensitivity” (SPS). People who are highly sensitive are born that way; it is not something they learned.

As children they might be described by teachers as shy or inhibited, especially in Western countries.

As adults, they might be described as introverts. It is important to note that not all sensitive people are shy or introverts. In fact, 30% of HSP are thought to be extroverts.

The brain of a HSP is different

There are biological reasons for all the components of this trait. A HSP’s brain is wired differently and the nervous system is highly sensitive with a lower threshold for action.

This hyper-excitability contributes to increased emotional reactivity, a lower threshold for sensory information (e.g. bothered by noise, or too much light), and increased awareness of subtleties (e.g. quick to notice odors).

There are also changes at the macro brain level. The areas associated with this trait greatly overlap with the brain areas that support empathy!

Also, they have a hyperactive insula, which explains their heightened awareness of their inner emotional states and bodily sensations. This hyperactivity explains their sensitivity to pain, hunger and caffeine.

There is also some recent evidence that this trait is related to the infamous 5-HTLPR gene(serotonin gene), implicated in many psychological conditions, such as depression
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The Highly Sensitive Person

Is this you?

  • Are you easily overwhelmed by such things as bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens nearby?
  • Do you get rattled when you have a lot to do in a short amount of time?
  • Do you make a point of avoiding violent movies and TV shows?
  • Do you need to withdraw during busy days, into bed or a darkened room or some other place where you can have privacy and relief from the situation?
  • Do you make it a high priority to arrange your life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations?
  • Do you notice or enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, or works of art?
  • Do you have a rich and complex inner life?
  • When you were a child, did your parents or teachers see you as sensitive or shy?
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Also from that page:

If you find you are highly sensitive, or your child is, I’d like you to know the following:

Your trait is normal. It is found in 15 to 20% of the population– too many to be a disorder, but not enough to be well understood by the majority of those around you.

It is innate.

In fact, biologists have found it in over 100 species (and probably there are many more) from fruit flies, birds, and fish to dogs, cats, horses, and primates.

This trait reflects a certain type of survival strategy, being observant before acting.

The brains of highly sensitive persons (HSPs) actually work a little differently than others’. To learn more about this, see Research.

You are more aware than others of subtleties. This is mainly because your brain processes information and reflects on it more deeply. So even if you wear glasses, for example, you see more than others by noticing more.
You are also more easily overwhelmed. If you notice everything, you are naturally going to be overstimulated when things are too intense, complex, chaotic, or novel for a long time.

This trait is not a new discovery, but it has been misunderstood. Because HSPs prefer to look before entering new situations, they are often called “shy.” But shyness is learned, not innate.

In fact, 30% of HSPs are extroverts, although the trait is often mislabeled as introversion. It has also been called inhibitedness, fearfulness, or neuroticism. Some HSPs behave in these ways, but it is not innate to do so and not the basic trait.

Sensitivity is valued differently in different cultures. In cultures where it is not valued, HSPs tend to have low self-esteem. They are told “don’t be so sensitive” so that they feel abnormal.
You are definitely not alone.
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Subjective

Also, all of this is highly subjective. As an introvert, I find extroversion to be rude, annoying, or tiresome – though I do not consider extroversion to be sinful.

I find extroverts to be draining, both mentally and physically, and I need respites from their presence.

I find the ever smiling and chatty demeanor they have to be rude. I don’t view such overt, constant friendliness as being desirable traits.

I endure friendliness, and smiley, happy-clappy types. I endure them. I merely tolerate them.

I’m assuming Morse is an extrovert, as I cannot picture any introvert consigning introversion to the category of sin.

How dare the extrovert Morses of the world expect or demand that the quiet, introvert individuals such as myself change for them. Why doesn’t Morse try bending his nature from extrovert to introvert, hold that pattern, and see how he likes it?

If there is a God, God made people different: God made some people extroverted, and he made other people introverted. Morse needs to accept that.

Being quiet and thoughtful is not being “un-friendly,” cold, inhospitable, or rude. It’s is only Morse’s opinion that being quiet and low key is the same thing as being cold or un-friendly.

It is his perception. It is not reality.

I’ve met plenty of extroverts over my life, or folks who seem to be extroverted, who also try to portray themselves as being well-mannered and polite, and yet who  are also quite openly rude, unfriendly, cold, inhospitable: such as this self-professing Christian woman.

So, Morse, just so we are clear: introverts do not have the market cornered on being cold, inhospitable, unfriendly and so on. Plenty of folks who have extroverted or well-manner personalities and demeanors can also be rude, condescending, or cold jackasses on occasion.

(But I’d like to clarify that being quiet, as introverts are, in and of itself is not the same thing as being “inhospitable” or “cold.”)

Introverts bring certain qualities and ways of looking at the world and problems that extroverts do not.

By cutting introverts out of the picture (or demanding they “can” their introversion and dispose of it), you are not availing yourself of their particular strengths and in-sights.

While it is true that introversion is NOT the same thing as shyness, and it is also true that not all introverts are shy, some introverts are in fact shy.

I’ve been introverted my entire life and was so painfully shy, I had something known as Social Anxiety Disorder.

Now that I’ve un-learned a lot of the unhealthy garbage I got from church, Christianity, and secular culture – such as, it’s “wrong” or shameful to be introverted (quiet, thoughtful), as Morse teaches in his awful article, and once I un-learned that it’s wrong to have boundaries and be assertive – I no longer suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder. I’m not quite so shy, but, my introversion remains intact. 

I do not see my introversion as something that needs to be “fixed,” and I sure as hell do not see it as being sinful, and I have no intention of changing it.

Introversion Resources

which Morse really needs to read because he’s obviously quite ignorant of what Introversion is

For more, please see:

Susan Cain: The power of introverts

Quiet Revolution: Unlocking the Power of Introverts

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking – on Wiki  

Snippet:

“Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” is a 2012 non-fiction book written by Susan Cain. Cain argues that modern Western culture misunderstands and undervalues the traits and capabilities of introverted people, leading to “a colossal waste of talent, energy, and happiness.”

The book presents a history of how Western culture transformed from a culture of character to a culture of personality in which an “extrovert ideal” dominates and introversion is viewed as inferior or even pathological.

Adopting scientific definitions of introversion and extroversion as preferences for different levels of stimulation, Quiet outlines the advantages and disadvantages of each temperament, emphasizing the myth of the extrovert ideal that has dominated in the West since the early twentieth century.

Asserting that temperament is a core element of human identity, Cain cites research in biology, psychology, neuroscience and evolution to demonstrate that introversion is both common and normal, noting that many of humankind’s most creative individuals and distinguished leaders were introverts.

Cain urges changes at the workplace, in schools, and in parenting; offers advice to introverts for functioning in an extrovert-dominated culture; and offers advice in communication, work, and relationships between people of differing temperament.

The “Extrovert Ideal”
Cain says Western, and in particular, American, culture is dominated by what she calls the “Extrovert Ideal,” described as “the omnipresent belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha and comfortable in the spotlight.”

Western societies, being based on the Greco-Roman ideal which praises oratory, favor the man of action over the man of contemplation, and view introversion as being between a disappointment and pathology.

In contrast, traditional, pre-Americanized Asian culture is more inclined to value reticence and caution. The Harvard Independent’sFaith Zhang remarked that Quiet seems in part a gentle rebuke to a culture that values style over substance.

Historical roots
Cain traces the historical roots of the Extrovert Ideal to the rise of industrial America in the late 19th century, before which a culture of character dominated, and after which “a perfect storm of big business, urbanization and mass immigration” changed America into what historian Warren Susman called a culture of personality, in which perception trumps truth.

Introverts acting as “pseudo-extroverts”
According to Cain, in a culture that is biased against them, introverts are pressured to act like extroverts instead of embracing their serious, often quiet and reflective style.

Cain’s research included visits to what she termed three nerve centers of the Extrovert Ideal— a Tony Robbinsself-help seminar, the Harvard Business School, and a megachurch— noting the discomfort and struggles experienced by introverts in those environments and “shining a light” on the bias against introversion.

She said that people have to act out of our true character sometimes but that it’s not healthy to act out of one’s true character most or all of the time:“Whenever you try to pass as something you’re not, you lose a part of yourself along the way. You especially lose a sense of how to spend your time.”

Physiology of temperament
Cain maintains that there are introverts and extroverts in almost every species of the animal kingdom, each having a corresponding survival strategy.She says that research indicates our own degree of introversion or extroversion is detectable in infants and likely to be innate, and about 50% heritable (half by nature, half by nurture).

Babies who are more highly reactive (more sensitive) to stimulation are more likely to develop into introverts, while less reactive (less sensitive) babies generally become extroverts who actually draw on the energy around them.

Introverts appear to be less responsive than extroverts to dopamine (a brain chemical linked to reward-driven learning), and have a more circumspect and cautious approach to risk than do extroverts.

Introverts are more governed by the neocortex, the part of the brain responsible for thinking, planning, language and decision making.

..The future
Cain asserts that introverts today are where women were in the 1950s and early 1960s—a population discounted for something that went to the core of who they were, but a population on the verge of coming into its own.[24] She adds that we’re at the cusp of a real sea change in the way we understand this personality type  Cain’s own website urging readers to “join the QuietRevolution.”

Beyond urging consciousness-raising about the harmfulness of culture’s bias against introversion, Cain urged companies to rethink hiring and promotion policies and office design, and encouraged educators to avoid constant group work and be trained in recognizing varieties of temperament to support quieter children to be functional and achieving for what they are rather than trying to “turn them into extroverts.”
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From Adam McHugh’s blog:

Introverts in the Church 

Introverts are called and gifted by God. But many churches tend to be extroverted places where introverts are marginalized.

…He explains how introverts and extroverts process information and approach relationships differently and how introverts can practice Christian spirituality in ways that fit who they are.

….”As an introvert who has experienced both the strengths and weaknesses of my temperament, I appreciate the way McHugh goes well beyond the facile stereotypes and conclusions of armchair psychologists.
If you’ve ever felt vaguely sinful for not being a gregarious Christian I suggest you spend some quality time alone with a copy of Introverts in the Church.”
—Don Everts, minister of outreach, Bonhomme Presbyterian Church, Chesterfield, Missouri, and author of I Once Was Lost

Introverts in the Church article on Christianity Today (also the book title of McHugh’s)

Finding a quiet moment in an extroverted place
Adam S. McHugh

…the culture and practices of evangelical worship services can be painfully unpleasant for some people, even those who are wholeheartedly devoted to Christ and his mission.

The familiarity and informality of some churches in the evangelical tradition, with their best intentions of devotion and hospitality, can actually exclude introverts.

Times of greeting and sharing in a public context, especially with strangers or distant acquaintances, are unnatural and sometimes painfully uncomfortable.

In fact, some introverts I interviewed conceded that they commonly show up late on Sundays to avoid the awkward pre-service socializing and greeting times.

….When introverts go to church, we crave sanctuary in every sense of the word, as we flee from the disorienting distractions of 21st-century life. We desire to escape from superficial relationships, trivial communications, and the constant noise that pervade our world, and find rest in the probing depths of God’s love. We want to hear God’s voice, which comes to us more often in whispers than in triumphant shouts.

What Introverts Wish the Church Understood About Them by Julia Howell

Snippets:

1. Introverts Are Not Anti-social.

Introversion and extroversion, according to popular psychological theories, is a difference in where people get their energy. It does not indicate shyness, social awkwardness or being a hermit.

Introverts “prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues and family,” says Susan Cain in her book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. “They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation.”

Introverts function differently than extroverts. They need time to recharge. According to George Fox University Psychology Professor Sue O’Donnell, introverts, in their true sense, have been misunderstood.

“It has come to take on a meaning of anti-social, which is not the case,” she says. “We can deal with people—we have no problem with that, but in general, we recharge by ourselves.”

3. Introverts Aren’t Shy.

Due to their usually reserved nature, introverts are often told to come out of their shell. They tend to observe and listen in social situations, pausing to think before speaking. In a group setting, they may not appear engaged, but this is not always the case.

“Shyness is the fear of social disapproval or humiliation, while introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating,” Cain says. “Shyness is inherently painful; introversion is not.”

Especially in group contexts in church, give introverts room to speak, but don’t call them out if they don’t want to—they’re probably just taking time to process their own thoughts and what’s been said.

Introverts, though not always outgoing in social situations, usually have other talents that are important when working with people. These can be deep thinking skills, listening or respect for others.

4. Introverts Can be Effective Leaders.

God uses all kinds of people for His purposes. Many leaders in the Bible didn’t feel capable of doing what God asked, but He found use for their strengths and even their weaknesses.

George Fox University Pastor Jamie Johnson acknowledges that there are both introverts and extroverts in the Bible—people who were imperfect, but God worked through their imperfections. Jesus included a variety of personalities when choosing His closest disciples.

“Peter was a flaming extrovert,” says Johnson. “But the Apostle John, we don’t know much about him, but he strikes me as an introvert.”

Johnson also mentions female figures in the Bible who were both personality types. Deborah was probably an extrovert, whereas Abraham’s wife Sarah was more contemplative. Sisters Mary and Martha were likely on either side of the personality spectrum.

“God has always been about the business of shattering expectations, and in our culture, the standards of leadership are extroverted,” says Adam McHugh in his book Introverts in the Church. “It perfectly follows the biblical trend that God would choose the unexpected and the culturally ‘unfit’—like introverts—to lead His Church for the sake of greater glory.”

The Church needs all kinds of personalities to function. Introverts (as well as extroverts) are necessary to the Church Body. Ministry requires a variety of positions in which introverts and extroverts can feel comfortable. Both should do what feels natural, not just what they think they’re expected do. All parts of ministry are essential—working with children, organizing events, making food, cleaning, praying, preaching and other responsibilities.

“We need to extend grace,” says Johnson. “[Both personalities] are essential to the ministry of the Church.”
/////

Note about this page by Tom Talks – agree with much of, but for the notes he gives to introverts in the last paragraph, where the author sort of tries to shame introverts into attending a church:

Why Introverts Often Struggle In the Church – by Tom Talks

Snippets:

1) Energy Source.

A misconception extroverts make about introverts is that they dislike people.

This is understandable since we seem hesitant to hang out and try to leave social activities a little early. In reality, we actually like people (at least most of us).

The difference though lies in the way extroverts and introverts “recharge” themselves.

Extroverts like being around others because they get energy from stimulation – traveling, mingling, interaction, etc. Such activities fuel them. And that’s why extroverts lose energy when they’re alone because their energy source is gone.

Introverts though are the opposite. We get energy from a different source: solitude. Being home, by ourselves, curled up on a couch. This restores our battery life.

..2) Processing.

Both extroverts and introverts process information – but the difference lies in how we process information. Extroverts process everything out loud, which is why they enjoy dialogue. Say you’re in a meeting with a room full of extroverts. If you bring up a topic, they will have no problem sharing their opinion on the spot because they like to process their thoughts and form their opinions externally.

But introverts process everything internally. So if we’re in a meeting and someone brings up a topic, we will be silent.

It’s not because we don’t care. We’re just thinking and thinking and thinking.

Introverts have this internal filter that our thoughts must go through before we say anything out loud. And that’s why introverts often seem aloof in social settings – we’re simply trying to filter through all the dialogue that’s taking place

…. [Being out-going and talkative with a lot of people at church] This is challenging but doable for an extrovert.

But for an introvert? These are nightmare scenarios.

But because this is how Christianity is expressed in today’s modern church, introverts feel that they have to practice their faith this way or they’re being unspiritual.

But it’s hard for a lot of them – so they just don’t. And as a result, they often feel guilty, weird, and marginalized by the church culture that surrounds them.

…Rather I’m trying to point out how church leaders don’t realize just how biased the modern church tends to be towards the extrovert. And this is understandable. Most church leaders are extroverts themselves, so of course they’re going to see things through extroverted lenses.

In other words, pastors and leaders shouldn’t look every Christian who doesn’t show up to all the church events and conclude that they’re being “unfaithful members.” That may be the case – but it may also be that we’re asking a bunch of introverted Christians to practice an extroverted form of Christianity.

10 Church Things That Alienate Introverts

Snippets:

4. Misjudged Silence
Think back to a recent life group or Bible study meeting. There were probably a few talkers and some definite listeners in the room. Chances are the listeners were introverts.

In a group setting introverts often sit quietly before jumping into the conversation. It doesn’t mean they’re upset, shy, snobby, or daydreaming.

And it definitely doesn’t mean there’s nothing deep going on inside. (On the contrary introverts have hundreds of deep thoughts!) Most introverts prefer to take their time to fully understand an atmosphere, situation, or group dynamic before contributing.

8. Uncomfortable Prayer Time
Have you ever noticed what an intimate thing prayer is? Prayer is basically having a chat with omnipotent God and is often quite personal, when we stop and think about it.

Not everyone is comfortable praying while others listen, and introverts can fall into this category.  Being asked to lead corporate prayer can be nerve-racking for them.  And popcorn prayer (pray-as-you feel-led-but-everyone’s-actually-expected-to-participate) is also hard for introverts because it feels like pressure.

Just because someone prefers to pray silently doesn’t mean they’re not close to God or that there’s something wrong. God created various personality types, and leaving room in church situations for different preferences and communication styles is healthy.

…As believers it’s important to remember we’re all part of the same body but with different gifts and functions.

If we commit to being “kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another” (Romans 12:10 KJV), we’ll realize that loving our brothers and sisters in Christ means accepting and appreciating them for who they are—introvert, extrovert, and all.

Why Introverts Would Rather Avoid Church  

Snippets:

Whether intentional or not, many aspects of Western culture operate with a bias toward extroverts, especially much of evangelical Christianity. Ask a sample of introverts, and they will tell you about bracing for impact when they walk through loud church lobbies and the breath of relief when they make it back to the car:

“As an introvert, I often feel that I’m living in an extrovert’s world. I feel as if I’m expected to adapt…”

“I remember feeling terrified and pressured to change who I was just to be able to smile and walk through the atrium.”

A variety of voices have confirmed they sense the same thing. One introverted pastor explained: “Churches sometimes unintentionally equate faithfulness with extroversion; we draw up a composite sketch of the ‘ideal’ Christian — gregarious, with an overt passion and enthusiasm, eager to participate in a wide variety of activities, shares their faith with strangers regularly, assumes leadership positions quickly, opens up their home to others often — and this ideal person starts sounding suspiciously like an extrovert” (Adam McHugh, author of Introverts in the Church).
/////

Introvert? No Apology Required  

Snippets:

What are the qualities of an introvert that may be overlooked?

Put bluntly, I think most qualities of an introvert are prone to be overlooked!  In our extroverted society, we value aggressive, action-oriented, gregarious people, and  I think this extroverted bias has bled over into some of our churches, where often the “ideals” of faithfulness are strikingly extroverted. 

We praise people who are social and expressive, eager to participate in a wide variety of activities, have an overt enthusiasm, share their faith with strangers easily, assume leadership positions quickly. But introverts do not usually fit this profile, and our lives of faith may be a little slower, a little quieter, a little more solitary.

We are often calm, thoughtful, reflective types who may be invisible to others if they are not looking or listening.

Yet I think that introverts have tremendous gifts to bring to others. In the book I start with our listening abilities. Because introverts process internally, we can offer people a non-judgmental presence that helps others open up to us.

There is also something about being intimately connected to our inner worlds that produces a great deal of creativity. Many introverts are gifted writers, artists, musicians, and even actors.

 I also think that having a rich inner life lends itself towards a deep compassion for others, something I have seen in many introverted pastors and chaplains I have worked with.

Further, we are capable of an insight that is borne of self-awareness and listening, a peacefulness that spreads to others, and a servant mindset which is often expressed in behind-the-scenes service.

…How can introverts be evangelists?

As I was exploring this topic, I had someone ask me whether an “introverted evangelist” is an oxymoron.

But I firmly believe it’s not that introverts are ill-suited to evangelism; rather, many of our common strategies for evangelism are ill-suited for introverts.  Even though teaching on evangelism is (thankfully) changing, there are still some prevailing models that are very difficult for many introverts.

One of those models is the spiritual salesmanship model, to borrow an image from evangelism professor Rick Richardson. We must be fast talking experts, armed with answers to all the questions, able to persuade others and “close the deal.”

Or another common mode of evangelism is debate – we need to prove that our worldview is superior to that of others.

Most introverts will struggle with these methods, since we’re not naturally aggressive or chatty and our internal processing slows us down in situations of conflict or debate.

I think there are different methods and images for evangelism that are more suited for introverts.

One of the things I suggest is that introverts, instead of radically stretching themselves to initiate with strangers in uncomfortable situations, should start with the people who are already in their lives and ask how God is already at work in them…..

Are Churches Isolating Introverts

Snippets:

….Have Our Churches Isolated Introverts?

The other day, I found a brilliant post from Adam McHugh on Susan Cain‘s blog about introverts in the church.

In the post, Adam shares the story of an introverted man who was visiting a church and felt overwhelmed after “five people came up to him to introduce themselves.”

Adam perfectly articulates something I’ve always wondered about the way we do ministry:

“Evangelicalism has a chatty, mingling informality about it, and no matter how well-intentioned that atmosphere is, it can be a difficult environment for those of us who are overwhelmed by large quantities of social interaction and who may connect best with God in silence.”

Adam explains that for some introverts, entering your average evangelical worship service feels like walking into a non-alcoholic cocktail party. A lot of times, our churches don’t do introverts any favors as we set expectations that in order to be an “perfect Christian,” we have to be overly social with others, zealously sharing our faith.

How Can We Minister to Introverts?

It seems simple, but having awareness that crowds and constant conversation drain some people is the first step. From there, you can begin to learn how to effectively minister to the various personalities in your church.

Are Introverts Really Welcomed in the Church?

…Introverts draw energy from solitude and quiet. Social interaction burns energy and leaves introverts feeling very tired after a time. Extroverts operate in the opposite manner. They draw energy from interaction with others and feel bored and restless with excessive time spent alone. However, people don’t fall neatly into one extreme camp or the other. Many land in the middle, or between the middle and the polar ends.

….Before I go further, however, I should remind you that to be an introvert does not mean overpowering shyness or a dislike of people.

But it does mean that those interactions do not come as naturally as they do for extroverted personalities.

Instead, we have to concentrate on each encounter and often consciously remember how we’re supposed to behave under those circumstances. This leaves us feeling very tired, and makes it difficult to concentrate on anything else at the same time.

Worship

I felt guilty [when I felt relieved when the ‘worship’ portion of the service, with the loud singing and hand waving, was shortened and we got to sit down and be quiet] because evangelical churches prize worship.

It’s an enormous draw to bring people into the church (if the music is good), and large portions of the congregation will quickly cite it as their favorite part of the service.

As a child, I would watch the people around me become so involved (again, Pentecostal upbringing), and I would wonder what was wrong with me that I felt nothing. The prevailing thought at the time was the God wanted us out of our “comfort zones.”

So I pushed myself. I raised my hands, I sang loudly (and off-key), and after each session—I just felt embarrassed. I didn’t feel like myself. It seemed so easy for everyone else and I just didn’t understand why I seemed to be immune.

I realize now that people probably thought I reacted the same as everyone else.

Like a lot of introverts, I learned the correct behavior for the correct time, and I imitated the people around me. To this day, I have very, very few genuine spiritual moments during worship, which I generally find to be loud and distracting.

….An introvert is not a gazelle that you’ll startle by trying to make conversation. They won’t lope out the front door never to be seen again. But a barrage of interaction and loud noise can very easily make an introvert feel like a fish out of water. I know this well, because I’ve felt like one at church for a very long time.
////

Yeah, see, introverts should not be expected to change all to suit Morse’s preferences or opinions. I have never in my life asked, expected, or demanded that all extroverts stop being extroverted all the time.

If I tire being around a room full of extroverts, I simply excuse myself and leave for a few moments or permanently. The extroverts get to continue being extroverts, and I don’t have to endure any more chit chat or socialization.

Introverts should not be pressured or shamed into offering false or fake worship or friendliness, not at church, and not anywhere else.

The kind of Christianity and Christian parenting I was subjected to growing up mirrors a lot of what Morse is saying in his article. Some of it came under the codependency (gender complementarianism) I was taught.

I was encouraged to repress my true needs, feelings, and wants, and to be in-authenticate in some ways.

I was guilted and shamed for having needs. I was taught that my needs and feelings do not matter, but only that everyone else’s needs and feelings matter.

I was made to feel shamed for who I was – even as a kid!

All of that contributed to me having low self esteem, suicidal ideation, anxiety attacks (though my anxiety is also partially biological), and having clinical depression for many years. What Morse is suggesting, and if his readers follow his opinions on how to live life, may also cause them to become depressed, resentful, unhappy, or anxious.

I regard his essay so troubling and potentially damaging that I hope that the “Desiring God” site scrubs their site of it.

I had to read a ton of books and blog posts and articles to un-learn the nonsense that Morse is peddling and passing off as Christianity in his article.

You have to “be yourself.”

If you go through life denying who God created you to be, you’ll not only be miserable yourself, but, you will not be able to please anyone anyhow.

Morse may prefer all people around him act in an out-going, bubbly manner, but I find those behaviors annoying.

So, if you are in a room with Morse and myself, and you’re naturally an introvert, are you going to act fake extroverted, to gain Morse’s approval, or remain an introvert so as not to annoy me?

You see how you cannot win in either scenario, right? You may please one of us but not the other. Why bother trying to change to please either one? If  you’re an introvert, remain one. If you’re an extrovert, remain one.

You can’t please everyone all the time, no matter what you do, so you may as well be True To Yourself and Be Yourself.

Morse needs to change his thinking about introversion: introverts do not need to change. Women do not need to make themselves smaller or more passive to make Morse feel manly or better about himself – nor does the Bible ask or demand that women do so.

Edit.

Morse’s essays reminds me of my post about Worm Theology. It’s shame-based theology. Concerning in-born traits, such as femaleness or introversion, I don’t think shame is applicable or appropriate.


More On This Blog:

Complementarians Ask Women and Girls to Be Small To Make Men Feel Big

Housework, Dirty Dishes, Complementarianism and Personal Anecdotes

Christian Gender Complementarianism is Christian-Endorsed Codependency for Women (And That’s Not A Good Thing)

‘Submit to Your Husbands’: Women Told To Endure Domestic Violence In The Name of God (via ABC Aussie news)

One of the Best Things Churches Can Do for People With Mental Illness by A. Simpson

Why Does Being a Woman Put You at Greater Risk of Having Anxiety? by Cari Romm

Even Warm and Fuzy, True, Correctly-Implemented Gender Complementarianism is Harmful to Women, and It’s Still Sexism – Yes All Comps (Refuting “Not All Comps”)

A Response to the Complementarian ‘The Beauty of Womanhood Essay’ by Abagail Dodds

Basic Overview of Codependency – And How Some Christians Misunderstand or Misrepresent Codependency

Doctrines, Theological Views, and Biblical Hermeneutics Have Real-Life Consequences – Personal Experience Vs. Sola Scriptura

Yes, Complementarianism Infantilizes Women – and the Complementarian Tie-Breaking Vote Doctrine

 

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