Introversion and Adiaphora

Recently I saw a post on Tumblr against the introvert label, responding to things like this that attempt to tell the world how to treat introverts:

The writer, himself an introvert, objects to the ‘born this way’ demand for accommodation:

It’s a vicious cycle. People come into this world, behave in whatever way feels natural, then they run into a label that describes their behavior, that label validates their behavior (‘oh, I’m this kind of person! I was made this way!’), they ascribe that label to themselves (‘I’m an introvert!’) and so they keep acting that particular way, their self-ascription validating them the whole time. Actually, it’s not a cycle – it’s a spiral.

I see a point there, and I can sympathize with the impatience about people’s insistence on not having their preferences challenged. After all, if we never had to do hard things, what kind of maturity could we have, and what kind of virtue could we have cultivated? Even Adam and Eve, placed in the Garden of Eden with the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, were expected to resist sin and so develop strength in the face of temptation. We are who we are, but to preclude growth on those grounds would be wrong.

And in light of Christ’s fulfilment of righteousness, the writer rightly appeals to St Paul’s exhortation:

That ye put off concerning the former conversation [i.e. manner of life] the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

I think it right, all the same, to raise concerns about equating with sin a request to be allowed to act according to one’s place in the Body of Christ. No one, after all, expects a farmer to make pottery, nor a potter to command a whole army, nor a general to preach. Sometimes, of course, conscription calls farmers to fight for their homeland, and sometimes a general will need to use his eloquence: we must use a broader range of arts than just the ones in which we think we’re best endowed. To keep an introvert from observing before acting visibly in new situations, however, is not to pull him out of himself but, in many cases, to keep him from serving others with his faculty of reflection, which otherwise would keep him from quickly adopting the latest hysteria of the Church and allow him to confront the problem reasonably.

Grace, moreover, doesn’t erase true nature. Attempts to replace nature with grace are not angelic but demonic, bombarding rather than building God’s kingdom. If there be such a thing in nature as introversion, just as there’s such a thing as distinction of the sexes (and just as there’s no such thing, properly speaking, as homosexuality), then effacing it in favour of an exclusively extraverted culture, and establishing this bias as divine law, is a tyranny from hell that adds the word of man to the word of God.


2 responses to “Introversion and Adiaphora

  1. Well said. I have commented on introversion before. However, my concern is not so much introversion as a particular unbiblical idealization of extroversion in certain Christian circles. Introversion and extroversion both have their place, and their attendant virtues and vices, and we need to be more acutely aware of our own, and the fact that Christ can often, like Moses and many others, call us to go completely against what we believe to be our personality type.

    Another thing that is beginning to concern me is the way that introverts are starting to develop their own initial sorts of identity politics and victim narratives. I think that this is a deeply dangerous and unhealthy move to make.


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