Borderline Personality Disorder according to The Bible
Borderline Personality Disorder according to The Bible.
By: Mel McKibbin
Let it be known first and foremost that I, as a delivered and healed borderline, can attest that there is a greater purpose for your life. Dealing with borderline personality disorder (BPD) since childhood, I have picked up on many things. It isn’t until the past year, that I realized God has a word for most of the “Characteristics” of BPD- that word is sin. While not every single characteristic of BPD is sin, the ones that are not outward sin, are still damaging- and is not something God approves of.
The DSM IV stands for “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fourth Edition”. It is the standard book used by mental health professionals for diagnosing and establishing the criteria of mental illness. Borderline Personality Disorder is listed under the Axis II definitions, and is usually considered secondary to Axis I. The DSM IV lays out specific diagnostic criteria for all mental disorders currently recognized by The United States. It is clear and concise, and designed to allow a mental health professional to make a competent diagnosis. The government also uses it to determine whether or not someone qualifies as being “disabled”.
In the following pages, I will be bringing to light the actual wording of the DSM IV, the criteria, and what The Bible says about it. There are many scriptures pertaining to it, and The Bible is nowhere near silent. Only once the realization is made that BPD has its major roots in sin, and subsequently believing lies from Satan, can one be delivered- but they must replace the lies with truth.
Unless noted, all scripture is taken from the ESV Bible, used with permission.
Criterion I: Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment, including lying and seeking to be the center of attention.
Everyone has times in their life when they feel abandoned. As Christians, God is very clear that he will never leave or forsake us (Psalms 27:10, Duet 31:8). Lying is the other flipside of Criterion I, and in order to avoid this supposed “abandonment” the BPD will take to creating a crisis and lying about situations. Lying is an abomination to The Lord (Col 3:9-10, Prov 12:22, Eph 4:25)
For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in.
(Psalm 27:10 ESV)
It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
(Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV)
Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices (Colossians 3:9 ESV)
Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who act faithfully are his delight.
(Proverbs 12:22 ESV)
Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. (Ephesians 4:25 ESV)
Criterion II – A pattern of intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.
Everyone has friends, and some have more than others. A BPD is known to have extremely tense relationships. Given Criterion I, we see that a BPD will manipulate and lie in order to avoid real or imagined abandonment. The Bible is very clear that we, as Christians are to love one another (1 John 4:7-8, 1 John 4:11). We are not showing love to someone when we manipulate them to do what we want them to do, even if we justify it by “keeping” a friendship going. In the long run, these actions push people away- they don’t keep them close.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
(1 John 4:7-8 ESV)
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:11 ESV)
Criterion III – Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.
While losing our identity in Christ is not overtly sinful in and of itself, it is damaging and harmful. The Bible tells us that we are a new creation. God didn’t create us to have low self esteem or unstable self image. He created us to live a full life, and be free of that. His work on the cross was for so much more than Salvation, it was also meant for healing in every aspect of our life.
Criterion IV – Impulsivity in at least two of the following areas: spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating).
I am going to focus on two main ones: Excessive spending and substance abuse. God calls us to not focus on and love money (Hebrews 13:5-6). Excessive spending is basically using money as an idol, and as we know- We are only to love the True God- the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have.
(Hebrews 13:5 ESV)
Substance Abuse is a prevalent problem in society. A BPD is statistically more likely to turn to mind-altering substances in their time of sorrow. God has a word for this as well, it is called Sin. (1 Peter 5:8, Proverbs 20:1)
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
(1 Peter 5:8 ESV)
Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.
(Proverbs 20:1 ESV)
Criterion V – Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, threats, or self-mutilating behavior.
The Criterion mentioned in section five are definitely not characteristics of a Christian. Suicide is murder, and The Bible clearly speaks against murder (Exodus 20:13) It is a selfish gesture, and one ends up taking their life before God can fully use them (Eccl 7:17). Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19-20) and is not to be defiled. By killing ourselves, or even attempting to- is basically spitting in God’s face, by saying in essence “You don’t make anything worth keeping alive.
“You shall not murder. (Exodus 20:13 ESV)
Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool. Why should you die before your time? (Ecclesiastes 7:17 ESV)
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
(1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV)
Criterion VI – Chronic feelings of emptiness.
When we are in Christ, we are a new creation (2 Cor 5:17). God created us not only to have life, but to have life abundantly (John 10:10). Life is full of ups and downs and sorrows, but it is how we react to those- that defines who we are as a Christian. When we are a new creation in Christ, there is that fulfilled life- we don’t have time to be overwhelmed with chronic feelings of emptiness. The Holy Spirit is our fulfillment.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10 ESV)
Criterion VII – Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fighting)
The Bible is a plethora of verses on relationships. The Bible covers every aspect of a relationship from how to confront others, to how to conduct yourself in relationships. We are told to live in peace with everyone (Romans 12:18).
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. (Romans 12:18 ESV)
On the subject of anger, the Bible is nowhere near silent either. (Psalms 37:8, Proverbs 15:18, Proverbs 29:22, Galatians 5:19 specifically mentions fits of anger)
Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
(Psalm 37:8 ESV)
A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.
(Proverbs 15:18 ESV)
A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression.
(Proverbs 29:22 ESV)
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 ESV)
Criterion VI and IX are basically repeats of various criterion, and are not included. The Criterion mentioned above are laid out in a list format in the DSM IV for easy access by healthcare professionals. The DSM IV also goes into details later on, and I will be bringing out certain “characteristics” as a summary from the remaining paragraphs.
In Paragraph four, the following are specifically mentioned as issues pertaining to BPD:
“There may be sudden changes in opinions, sexual identity, values, and types of friends. These individuals may change from the role of a needy supplicant for help, to a righteous avenger of past mistreatment.
Changes in opinion can come from many varying factors. If we are rooted in the Word of God, then we won’t be tossed by changes of opinion and doctrine (Ephesians 4:14-15). Our sexual identity is one of two things: Male or Female (Mark 10:6). Homosexuality is wrong, and it is listed in many Old and New Testament passages (Leviticus 18;22, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10) The company we keep can define our character. We need to keep with the unity of the bond of peace, and be watchful of evil friends (1 Corinthians 15:33)
So that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
(Ephesians 4:14 ESV)
But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’
(Mark 10:6 ESV)
You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. (Leviticus 18:22 ESV)
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality. (1 Corinthians 6:9 ESV)
Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” (1 Corinthians 15:33 ESV)
Our values define who we are. If we aren’t willing to stand for something, we will fall for anything. The Bible is clear on where our values and thoughts should lie:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.(Philippians 4:8 ESV)
“Righteous avenger of past mistreatment”
Vengeance is left to God alone (Romans 12:19). When we take revenge, we are in essence playing God. Not only does this mean we are in a rough situation, it is also sinful. (Romans 12:17, Proverbs 20:22)
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19 ESV)
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
(Romans 12:17 ESV)
Do not say, “I will repay evil”; wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you.
(Proverbs 20:22 ESV)
Paragraph six brings to light some issues that must be addressed as well.
“They may display extreme sarcasm, enduring bitterness, and verbal outbursts”
The Bible continually instructs Christians how to conduct their attitude, and language is no different. Words are important (Proverbs 18:21) We are to refrain from cutting people down, cutting with our tongue, and even told to avoid sarcasm and quarrels. (Proverbs 18:21, Proverbs 26:18-19, Ephesians 4:29, Ephesians 5:4).
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.
(Proverbs 18:21 ESV)
Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I am only joking!”
(Proverbs 26:18-19 ESV)
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29 ESV)
Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. (Ephesians 5:4 ESV)
Bitterness, grudges, and un-forgiveness are not permitted in The Bible (Leviticus 19:17, Matthew 6:15, Ephesians 4:31-32). When we hold all of these things, we don’t allow God to completely work in our life. Besides being very foolish, it is also sinful to hold un-forgiveness, bitterness, and grudges.
You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
(Leviticus 19:18 ESV)
But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:15 ESV)
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31-32 ESV)
In Conclusion, the DSM IV lists all kinds of criteria when referring to Borderline Personality Disorder. The main highlights, all of which God either says are sin, or just aren’t profitable for a Christian to partake of are the following:
- Anger (Outbursts, displays, etc…) (Psalm 37:8, Proverbs 15:18, Proverbs 29:22)
- Bitterness, Grudges, & UnForigveness (Ephesians 4:31-32, Leviticus 19:17-18, Matthew 6:15)
- Changing Relationships/Keeping Bad Company (1 Corinthians 15:33)
- Changing Values (Philipians 4:8)
- Extreme Sarcasm (Proverbs 12:25, 1 Peter 5:7, Philippians 4:6)
- Impulsive spending – (Hebrews 13:5-6)
- Manipulation & Lying (1 Timothy 4:1, 2 Timothy 3:1-5, 1 John 4:11, Matthew 7:15)
- Revenge (Romans 12:16-18, Proverbs 20:22)
- Sexual Identity (Genesis 19, Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Jude 1:7
- Substance Abuse (1 Peter 5:8, Proverbs 20:1)
- Suicide Behavior, Thoughts, & Gestures (Exodus 20:13, Eccl 7:17, 1 Cor 6:19-20)
The conclusion we must come to is this: BPD has no place in a Christian’s life. The ramifications of this disorder can cause all kinds of problems. Someone may have a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder, the DSM IV might say that all these things point to it, but as Christians- we have a book that trumps the DSM IV. It is called The Holy Bible, God’s Divinely Inspired word. Anything that we allow ourselves to believe that is contradictory to the Word of God, is false. And honestly, the diagnosis is just a piece of paper, written by Man and interpreted by man.
The Bible tells us that Satan is like a roaring lion, roaming and seeking whom he may devour. His purpose in our life is to steal, kill and destroy. He steals, kills, and destroys our hope. As Christians though, we must look forward- look onward to the hope that is in Christ Jesus.
Jesus doesn’t intend for his children to live in misery. BPD is a mindset, not a disorder. I dealt with this for years, and had convinced myself it was a disorder, that I could only “cope” and that I would never be able to overcome it. I am a living breathing example that God can, and does deliver people suffering from BPD.
Christian, if you are struggling with BPD- I want you to know one thing: You don’t have to live with it, you don’t even have to hang onto it beyond the next five minutes, unless you choose to. The fear of abandonment, and all the other criteria about yourself is based on lies, and since Satan is the father of all lies, we know where they come from. The lies that you are worthless, don’t deserve friends, and are useless come straight from the pit of hell. Please stop believing the lies, you are worth so much more than that.
Once you stop believing the lies, you must replace them with the truth of God’s word. Your identity is in Christ alone.