Avoiding the Victim Mentality

Christians Should Not Seek Excuses Nor Scapegoats

Were You Seriously 'Wronged' In Your Youth?

Guess What? Thousands Of Us Were; Now Get On With Your Life!






A new kind of reasoning seems to have take over in our modern "enlightened" liberal society. Suddenly it seems that to be a 'victim' is something to be applauded. Huh? Yes indeed, to be a considered a victim of some sort of neglect or abuse, is considered laudable. 'Winners,' however, are looked upon with disdain or suspicion. How very odd this is, and how very 'enlightened liberal.'



So to be a 'victim' suddenly affords some sort of status, or recognition in society; moreover, it can be profitable status for some. But is it really admirable or laudable to attain 'victim status'? It's a good question. Yet people - sometimes the gullible, sometimes not at all gullible, are now actively encouraged, especially by bent, unscupulous and money-grabbing lawyers, to seek this very odd type of status. Oh, you poor thing, you should not put up with that, you deserve compensation for your ordeal/turmoil/mental anguish. Of course the sort of 'legal teams' who encourage people along this path, usually neglect to mention that - all too often - they themselves are becoming wealthy through offering such "financial encouragement."

So all sorts of people are now suddenly discovering - for the first time in their lives - that they have been 'victims' - how very odd that they had never recognized this before! This truly is a new thing in the world. This, of course, necessarily goes in hand with the discovery that certain people or institutions, or situations are culpable - they are to blame. And - oh, yes you guessed it! - certain things figure especially prominently here: pre-liberal society, 'winners,' unjust employers, the church (that particular "villain" just seems to get bigger by the day!), industry at all levels. If one has been a victim then it follows that somebody/something is to blame or is culpable. Right? Of course, in all of this, personal responsibility for one's own decisions becomes seriously diluted. 'You made a bad choice? Never mind, just find somebody/something to blame' seems to be the approach.

My path in life is to teach Christians. I do this because they often seem to fall prey to some dreadful teachings at times. I think this is because intellectual laziness has become the modern 'norm' - why study when you can just look it up on Google? Now Google has a place but sometimes a matter is of sufficient importance for us to go deeper - much deeper (actually, used properly, Google can help with that). Perhaps surprisingly, I am now even finding Christians who are starting to ape our society's desirability of attaining this victim status. The thing is, I have been around long enough to know that if somebody should say to me that, "such and such (usually some man's name)....inappropriately touched me in 1957, should I now report it? Could I even be compensated?" I know that other things are at issue here, it goes deeper than whether a man touched a lady's knee, or maybe a boy's knee, about 40 years ago. I would be very naive to think otherwise. And what - may I ask - is this "inappropriate touching" anyway? Where did this come from? The term was never even used a few years ago, now it is being bandied about everywhere and we are all expected to instinctively know what it means. Sex is a powerful driving force within human life. If all "inappropriate touching " between grown adults was banned from tomorrow, human beings would disappear from this planet, and remarkably quickly. Also, frankly, if somebody should say to me that they were involved in some one-off sexual incident 30 or 40 years ago and that that incident "has ruined my life," I would not easily believe that person. Unwelcome incident or not, perhaps I would even think, was that not part of growing up? Maybe even a more regrettable part but still part of that often painful process. Is it not more likely that - much of the time - the person - the 'victim' - did indeed acquiesce, maybe was even a willing partner in the incident, but guilt and shame caused one to later take a different view? 'To acquiesce' is to accept something reluctantly but without protest. Yet if there were no protest at the time should a serious protest really be heard 25 or so years later? Now, please don't let any readers misunderstand any of this, your writer here is certainly not in any way approving of sexual molestation, nor assault and certainly not rape, but we should also note how societal attitudes have changed. Frankly, by today's standards, every single one of us was probably involved in some unwise sexual indiscretion when young - perhaps even more than a few, what's new about that? Most of us gave out a strong warning to the perpetrator (yes, it happened to me too), and thereafter considered the matter closed. Okay, let us seek out one or two further examples of what we are outlining here.


Suddenly it is considered good and honourable to be a 'victim,' if you are a 'victim' everybody wants to court you. 'Winners,' in contrast, are thought of as villains. What has happened?

In the 1950s many attractive young women working in British offices occasionally got their bottoms pinched, they also got some mild sexual teasing, usually no more than that. But today a man pinching a pretty woman's bottom would be in danger of being instantly fired and quite possibly later being sent to prison! Whilst the former was wrong, has society now possibly over-reacted? Was it not far better that a woman, not welcoming a man's unwanted attentions, simply give him a hard slap across the face? Or, give a prompt warning that any recurrence would mean that she would speak to her husband about the incident? Did that not stop the problem in 99% of cases? But was that (the man's unwanted attentions, that is) really "sexual harassment," was it really - in any shape or form - sexual assault? I think 99.9% of my generation would say the very idea is ludicrous. Yet in our greedy ever compensation-seeking society many lawyers would quickly pounce on this, immediately seeking legal address for the "wronged" woman who, of course, now becomes a "victim." The press also continually promote and encourage this sort of over-reaction; they like nothing better than a bit of 'juicy scandal' about some prominent figure, oh yes, especially a clear 'winner' within society. They seem disinterested in applying any balance, or sound judgment. Is this a juicy bit of scandal? Print it! That seems a more typical reaction.

On a very slightly different tack now but certainly not unrelated, I know of several very dedicated Christian workers who worked with unmarried mothers and their babies and young children back in the 1960s/1970s who are now terrified of possible legal action. One lady said to me, "In our home we had to help settle down many young children at night, this necessarily included a lot of cuddling, even sometimes lying on their beds with them until they dropped off to sleep. Today this would probably be considered wrong, even possibly 'sexual' but it was completely innocent. But it sometimes frightens me how some would now view what was considered completely normal, caring behaviour of the time."

Food for thought indeed.


Applying Biblical Standards and Avoiding Worldly Ones...


As Christian believers, let us ask a pertinent question: Did our Lord accept a 'victim mentality'? After all, He received a lot of 'religious harassment' from the Jewish religionists of His day. Did He threaten them with taking possible legal action ? Did He complain about His "rights" being infringed? Or, did He always have the right answer ready at the right time, then leave it at that? I think we all know the answer to this. But what about us? Did our Lord teach His first followers to be every-ready to seek legal redress? No, He did not. Rather, He advocated turning the other cheek. How odd! Did He somehow forget to mention going to law to commence legal action against those who would persecute us? No, He plainly inferred that such would be the way of the world, but not believers. Later, Paul was exasperated when learning that certain believers at Corinth were even going to law against each other! See 1 Corinthians 6:1-9.

Now what about those valiant soldiers who went through World War I and World War II (plus many other conflicts)? Did they later seek compensation for the turmoil and stress which they experienced? Did they come home and institute legal action against their governments for having exposed them to such stress, anquish and continual turmoil? What about the nightmares which many former soldiers then had to endure for the remainder of their lives? Ever had some of those nightmares described to you by a war veteran? I have. Now that really is stress! It can't be dressed up as anything else. But what is the 'legal price' for those wretched experiences? Apparently very little. Have these men in their many thousands generally sought legal redress for any of this? Or did they consider that that is simply what war is like: continually hideous, wretched and horrible, and that enlisted soldiers can be expected to be put on the front line at any time.

I don't know about you, the reader, but I have been personally wronged by another person or persons on about ten occasions in my life. I don't think I am alone in that. Some were done out of simple forgetfulness, carelessness or maybe even stupidity - nothing really malicious. A few others, however, were more malicious. Two of these robbed me of seemingly assured promotion, one - a complete lie - attacked my moral character (worse still, I did not even discover this one until many years later), the final one robbed my wife and I of a promised small inheritance (not a big one). In every case I have forgiven the person/persons responsible. I feel a better and stronger person for having done that. I do not write this to boast but to point out a better path for the Christian believer to follow. It is better to live life without any festering roots of bitterness.


But What About Paul's Claimed Roman Citizenship?


Now some might point out Paul's complaint in Acts 22 as an example of a sort of seeking legal redress, but it was nothing of the sort. Though Paul was a circumcised Jew, and a Pharisee, he was born in the city of Tarsus (Acts 22:27,28). Over a hundred years previously, a noted Roman politician had conferred Roman citizenship upon all the inhabitants of Tarsus, and this was later attested to by Emperor Caesar Augustus. (Acts 21:39; 22:3). So Paul was merely pointing out a fact and his pointing out of this fact led to more opportunities to preach the Gospel! But he was angry about the treatment that his group had received and fully justified in pointing out this clear fact. However, he did not threaten any legal action because of this and plainly fully expected that persecution would be his path in life as a follower of Christ. See 2 Corinthians 11:23-33. Moreover, he was also partly protecting his imprisoners for pointing out his Roman citizenship because they could have been in serious trouble for the way they had treated a Roman citizen.


Conclusion


We do not here advocate a completely pacifistic approach, or an approach in which one may never speak out frankly against some particular wrong, there are times when these things should be done, rather, I would suggest that to 'turn the other cheek' means that one should not go around continually seeking redress, or to entertain thoughts of 'getting even,' neither should we slag others off behind their back simply because they have stated an honest opinion. Most of all, 'turning the other cheek' is surely to be forgiving, always being prepared to 'wipe the slate clean,' rather than harbouring some grudge. Were you too wronged? Who has not been? Injustice? Yes, it will always be around until our Lord returns but it is not good to be continually miserable about something which cannot be changed at the present time. A final point: 'winners' are not necessarily evil and exploitative at all, some have succeeded in life because of sheer hard work. Let us not cast all with the same brush.

But please don't accept the label of 'victim' too easily. There are indeed real victims in this world and that is tragic but Christians are actually amazingly privileged.

The keeper of the door to Eternal Life is the Lord Jesus Christ and He offers you and I free entry! Can we know this and still feel ourselves to be victims?

Robin A. Brace. June 16th, 2015.


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