Thursday, July 26, 2012

Personality Type and Sin

Where to begin on this one?  I've wanted to write this post for a while, but I am beginning to think it needs to be more of a discussion than a single post.  Here's a start.

Have you ever done the Myers-Briggs personality test, or something like it?  For me reading the description of my personality type was uncanny.  While I found it helpful for understanding myself better and gaining insight into how others perceive my behavior (apparently people of my type are frequently misunderstood!), the more negative aspects of the description raised some questions for me.

How do I separate 'who I was made to be' and my sinful nature?  The answer is probably that I can't - not now at least and certainly not on my own.  (As a side note: isn't it beautiful that Christ loves us and died for us even when our disgusting sin is such a part of who we are?  He doesn't separate us from our sin and love the lovely part; he loves all of us) 

Partly because the two cannot be fully separated, I am concerned that too much focus on personality types could lead to self-justification of sin.

For example, one description states that someone of my personality type "may have little interest in other people's thoughts or feelings".  This tendency doesn't sound very righteous to me - doesn't Christ call us to love one another, and doesn't that involve being interested in other people's thoughts and feelings?  Not only that, but this could easily lead to other sins.  And if I walk all over somebody, and then justify it by saying "oops!  I guess that was just my personality type not to realize that I was hurting them," I have still sinned.

What do you think?  Is the Myers-Briggs test helpful?  Do you think it can be misused to justify sin?


  1. We did these at our training course (I was the ENFJ - which for the most part described me, tho' I have a problem the what I see as the false dichotomies of T/F, P/J etc; Josh was the ENTP - were you similar to that, because I remember him reading something similar about his personality type? An ENTJ perhaps? I'm curious now...;D).

    Anyways, that was a complete digression from your excellent introductory discussion regarding personality type & sin. I think it can certainly be used to justify sin; and, in the hands of one whose conscience God has graciously been pressing upon, it can also be used to alert one to the areas of weakness and temptation that one needs to be aware of more. I also think we could mis-use the test if we think it excludes us from certain kinds of sin (mine, for example, said that I was very sensitive to people's feelings or thoughts" - but even if that is the case, which it definitely isn't all the time, that doesn't preclude me from sinning in this area. How horrible for me to think myself justified because I 'usually get this one right' and thus not see the subtle ways I might be sinning against God and that person).

    This *is* a huge topic - I look forward to your prompts and thoughts on it in the days to come!

  2. I've heard of the test and as a matter of fact, I think there are some companies that uses this test for hiring. This actually reminded me of what I was introduced at the winter retreat I went in January, called One in Love. It's just a theory and a study that one of the pastors did; theory called Heart Motives. It based on the fact that we desire to be like God, and there are four different attributes of God that we desire. They are: Perfect Me(perfection of God), Love Me(loved by a specific group of people you choose), Like Me(liked by everyone), and Respect Me(respect by everyone). Supposedly we have one major heart motive out of these four and then there are layers of heart motives. haha It's supposed to help you in what area you sin by helping to see your "heart motive". It's a theory based on the Bible, though it's not the Bible itself, so I wouldn't hold onto it so much. It is an interesting sermon and personally helped me a lot haha. Let me know if you want to look into it :]