The Struggles of the Christian INTJ

Good news, everyone!

So, Easter just passed and last week, I wrote a minor blog detailing what Easter means to different INTJs. While I was writing that one, I had the thought for this one. Originally, I was going to keep this down to one struggle, but after posting the intro paragraph to social media, Christian INTJs came out of the woodwork like rats leaving a sinking ship. (I had no idea there were so many of them.) Some of them had some good ideas, so I decided to draft a list of struggles that Christian INTJs have, and I decided to make the blog about as many struggles as I could name. (Creates more content that way.) But why was it so surprising to see so many Christian INTJs?

Well, out of all the MBTI types, INTJs are the least likely to believe in a higher power. Only 64% of INTJs do. And I don’t know how many of that 64% are Christian. But anyway, having any sort of belief or faith is generally very personal. It’s said that “God meets us where we’re at”, meaning that every believer is going to have a different experience with God and faith. Some people are cradle Christians, like me, while others don’t convert till they’re 60. But religion is an especially difficult subject for INTJs because while we are open-minded, we like to have evidence for what we believe. Now, I could give you all the reasons I have for my faith in God, but those won’t be someone else’s reasons, nor will they necessarily make a believer out of you, especially if you’re a fellow INTJ. As a result, faith is a very thorny and difficult subject for INTJs. Some of our struggles are unique to us, and some of them are experienced by every Christian, but either way, these are some of the struggles of the Christian INTJ.

1. The Struggle to Believe

The struggle to believe in God at all is likely the Christian INTJ’s greatest struggle. While INTJs are open-minded and always pursuing the truth, in order for us to know that something is the truth, we generally need to analyze it, test it, and make sure it holds up to scrutiny. This can be difficult with theistic beliefs because it’s not as if we can approach God as we would another person. Talking to God is one thing, but holding a conversation is another. There are some that say God speaks to them, but without us conversing with God ourselves, how do we prove what they’re saying or that God exists at all?

Well, this brings us to the mystery of faith. It’s a deeply personal spiritual matter that is unique to each of us. Some people claim to have witnessed miracles, I can’t. Some people say the Eucharist will feel fleshy or bleed—I’ve never had this experience. So, what keeps me believing? A lot of hard to link events in my life that only make sense to me, along with the fact that we have scientific evidence for some of the strange things done while someone is possessed, and then the fact that they are cured via exorcism. Also, I once asked a priest to bless a rosary for me. As I held it in my hand I could feel something “stirring” in my palm. I get a similar feeling when I go to confession sometimes. Lastly, following God’s word and His commandments have kept me out of trouble. By avoiding sin, I don’t have many of the same problems that other people do. But as I said, these reasons are merely my own for the existence of God. I wish I had better ones.

2. The Struggle to Believe in a Benevolent God

Something that we all struggle to explain is that if God is love and loves everyone, why does he allow evil to exist and harm others? I mean, God is omnipotent, so why can’t he do something? Well, there are a couple of arguments for this. One is that God created free will. By doing so, God doesn’t force Himself upon us and instead lets us come to him. We have the choice to choose between God and ourselves. But this doesn’t take into account children who are victims of drug trafficking or pedophilia.

A possible answer to this can be found in the book Rediscovering the Kingdom by Dr. Myles Munroe. In it, he mentions that God created man so we could partake in God’s rule. This was done by giving man dominion over the earth—that is to say, earth is our dominion—our kingdom. Dr. Munroe argues that this is why God never affects earth without human intervention or petition first. Dr. Munroe goes on to say that since we are stewards of the earth, we will be judged on how well we took care of the planet. There may be something to this argument for as it is said, there are sins of commission, meaning we sinned by doing something, and sins of omission, meaning we sinned by not doing something. Think about if for a second: do you hate pedophilia? If so, what have you done today to prevent it from happening? Have you even prayed about it?

But me questioning you about why you’ve never done anything to save someone doesn’t answer the question of how one believes in a good god when there’s so much wrong in the world. Well, Dr. Munroe also argues in his book that all men are meant to be co-regents with God in His kingdom, but we were never meant to be ruled by others. From there, the best answer that can be given is that control and violation of another is a sin, and all sin is a condition of the Fall of Man. I’m not suggesting that Adam and Eve actually existed and were tempted by a snake to eat an apple, but God gave us His commandments for a reason, probably because we’re so predisposed to obeying our own whims, our own rule, which is another point Dr. Munroe makes. God made us to be kings, and we rule like kings, although, some of us recognize that there is a King of kings and we base our kingdoms off His. Again, this goes back to my point about following the Ten Commandments—you’d be surprised by how fewer problems you’ll have if you adhere to them.

3. The Struggle to Love like Christ

Christians are called to be Christ-like. We need to be loving and compassionate, even to our worst enemies. This is not easy for INTJs because we’d rather be right than compassionate, and those that can’t see our wisdom are not worth us spending any time on. INTJs may have a general compassion for people, but we lack a specific compassion for individuals. God doesn’t beat His head against a wall trying to get you to notice Him, and INTJs would similarly prefer to live and let live—we have better things to do. But even if God doesn’t force Himself on anyone, He is always there when someone is ready to come back to Him—INTJs are not. And even if we could forgive, we will not forget, and trust is nearly impossible.

I don’t know how INTJs get passed this. Maybe they don’t. Maybe we only need to forgive.

4. The Struggle to Love God

Another great struggle INTJs face is the struggle to love God. The reason for this can be two-fold. Firstly, INTJs aren’t really lovey-dovey types. We’re not comfortable with our feelings and we have an especially difficult time expressing our affection for anyone or anything. Similarly, an INTJ may only be familiar with, or only comfortable with, expressing one sort of love or expressing love for a single person. Secondly, we may not feel like we actually love God because of that first condition. Interacting with God is very different from interacting with others. Sure, Jesus said, “as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40), and that we are to love one another as he loved us (John 13:34), meaning that the love in question is one of mercy, but to an INTJ, displaying mercy to the naked, hungry, or poor does not feel like love. At best, we’re redistributing the fruits of justice, and at worst, we’re only doing what God told us to do because we want to go to Heaven and avoid Hell.

In the last scenario, we’re acting out of self-interest, meaning we’re either doing something for a reward, which makes us a mercenary, or we’re doing something to avoid punishment, which makes us a slave. However, there are some who would argue that because we are acting out of a sense of justice, that is an act of loving God. After all, God is love, meaning God is all the good things in life, including creation, compassion, and justice. Further, one of the qualities of love is that it gives and shares of itself, which we can see in Christ’s crucifixion when he sacrificed himself for us. And so, when we sacrifice our own being, whether time, money, or food for someone else, we are sacrificing ourselves for our neighbor—an act of love acting as a display of love for love (God). So, while INTJs may partake in this action of love, I don’t think many of them will ever say outright that they love God. I know I wouldn’t because “love” is too tied up in its romantic connotation for me and doesn’t mean the same thing as compassion.

5. The Struggle to Let Go of Pride

The last struggle I want to cover has to deal with an INTJ’s sense of pride, although it may be better known as vanity or arrogance. It is well known that INTJs don’t see the world like everyone else does. We have Ni on top of our function stack making us look for insights and deeper meanings to things, and thanks to Se, we’re able to do that. This sort of perspective allows us to predict certain events before they happen as well as have insights into matters that usually only come with a lot of experience. To the uninitiated, it looks like foresight or psychic prowess. As a result, we see life and all of its players sort of like a chessboard and that’s how we strategize and plan for our lives. As a result, we sometimes feel like God because we can see and understand everything before it happens. And if we don’t feel like God, we definitely feel like we can identify with Him better than anyone else, and that’s a problem.

The truth is that we can’t see, know, and understand everything before or as it happens. I mean, just look at how we socialize—does that give the impression of divine insight? As a result, Christian INTJs have to realize that they are not God, we are just human. Further, we don’t understand God’s workings as well as we think we do. I mean, for heaven’s sake, an INTJ can barely wrap his mind around the concept “God is love” and all the implications that carries. It is simply not enough to be omniscient or omnipotent to be God—you also have to possess agape—an all-encompassing, unconditional, self-sacrificing love for all people. I’m not sure how many INTJs can or are willing to do that. But that’s not everything.

The other problem with realizing you’re not a god or realizing that you don’t know everything a god knows is that you have to relinquish the idea that you have complete control over your life, and that’s obviously very terrifying. So, what does one do? Abandon all illusion of control and just accept whatever chaos comes? No, you trust that God has your back, and that everything He does for you or allows into your life is for your own good. Now, obviously that isn’t true when it comes to abuse—God does not usher in pain, sin, or death—but there are certain trials and tribulations that He attempts to put us through to purify us of our sin and tempt us toward holiness. And while that seems like a good thing, that too can be scary because what if you don’t want what God wants for you? It must be good, though, because God is good, but if that’s true, then why is it so hard to let go? 

Pick Up Your Cross and Follow Me

Being a Christian isn’t easy and no one said it would be. I once had an anthropology class where we were asked if we thought religion was an escape. Everyone said yes—I said no. Religion is not an escape—it’s hard work to sacrifice yourself and your desires for your fellow man and God. It’s difficult to forego the human experience in exchange for the path to Paradise. No fornication, no porn, no masturbation, no staring at sexy people, no drunkenness, no gluttony, no pride, no envy, no theft, no swearing, no dirty jokes, no learned apathy, no slapping an idiot because he’s an idiot, and no sleeping in on Sundays! Like JC said, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).

Seriously, being a Christian isn’t easy for anyone. We all have our own crosses to bear, and some of those crosses are specific to our personality types. I’m sure I’m missing a few that are specific to INTJs, but hopefully these five really strike home at the struggles the Christian INTJ faces. I hope it’s worth it.

But what do you guys think? Did I get this right, or am I missing something? Let me know in the comments below.

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3 thoughts on “The Struggles of the Christian INTJ

  1. Também fiquei surpresa quando soube que você é cristão e de berço, igualmente a mim. Quando era criança não lutava muito para acreditar em Deus porque achava bom ir para a igreja. Quando me tornei adolescente, comecei a questionar: “Se não fosse meus pais, eu seria cristã?”, “Como funciona um relacionamento genuíno com Deus?”, “E se no final da vida eu descobrir que Deus não existe, o que acontece depois?”, “E se o que eu planejei para a minha vida, não for o propósito de Deus para minha vida *sendo que o plano é perfeito*?” e outras parecidas. Atualmente, tenho 19 anos alguns questionamentos foram resolvidos, uns ainda permanecem e muitos outros surgiram. Mas confesso que essa experiência não é tão ruim, pois quanto mais me aprofundo, mais sinto que me aproximo dEle.

  2. It’s very meaningful for me to find someone else who believes in God and the Bible from a rational point of view. I was starting to think I’d never find someone else who both thought like me and shared those values. I seem to get along best with INTJs, but almost every other INTJ I’ve met or spoken with has been a raging atheist or a satanist.

    What’s interesting is that almost all of them have used point #2 (“Why would a Benevolent God allow bad things to happen?”) as evidence against God. Like you, I disagree with them on this point, but my explanation is slightly different. I don’t understand why pedophilia or drug trafficking would need an exception. I’m relatively new to theological study, though, so I admit, I may be missing some relevant facts or context.

    My understanding of Genesis 2 is that God gave Adam and Eve free will to effectively “choose their own adventure” – either, a) listen to God and His judgment of objective good and objective evil, or b) disregard God’s judgment and attempt to become gods, each individual determining good and evil for themselves. When they ate the fig/apple from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they couldn’t handle the power and took on this ability as “shame,” corrupting both themselves and the world by destroying the relationships and bonds that previously held it together in purity and unity.

    So, all of this is to say that God *does* act benevolently by offering humanity freedom and allowing us to keep power which we don’t deserve. Today, the evil of the world is a direct result of the corruption humanity chooses to inflict upon itself, not a reflection of God’s intentions for us. For the very reason that God *is* benevolent, He won’t force himself upon us (as you said) or violate our free will, so He must act through us (i.e., imago Dei or Dr. Munroe’s co-regency). Each person has to effectively reverse the decision of Adam and Eve, throwing away the apple, in order to do God’s Will instead of sin. Unfortunately, that also necessitates evils like pedophilia be stopped by humans rather than a force of nature. God smiting all the pedophiles wouldn’t make Him benevolent. Being benevolent and objectively good means keeping one’s word and loving unconditionally, even for those that may appear unredeemable to us. The very act of identifying “evils too reprehensible to exist under a benevolent God” is us continuing to make the same mistake of trying to judge good and evil for ourselves by our own standards.

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