“There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’” – Luke 18:2-5, NLT
“Thou Shalt NOT Identify As A Victim!”
While I was going through my divorce, I remember being accused of clinging to a victim identity. This from someone schooled in Pastor Mark Driscoll’s Neo-Calvinistic Mars Hill Church theology and training. He meant this accusation as the ultimate write off and indication of my moral deficiency. Sadly, like the accusation, he failed to take reality into account.
Some people are actual victims.
I understand not all Neo-Calvinists would agree with the commandment as articulated above. The movement has a diverse population. I know some very godly and pastoral individuals identifying as Neo-Calvinists or just plain Calvinists who would not accept such a horrible commandment in practice. They operate with more pastoral wisdom than that.
However, I have seen enough to know my experience in encountering this commandment from the school of Neo-Calvinism is not limited to me alone. A real phobia exists in accepting the reality that victims exist, especially as in the Church.
This commandment is very destructive and ungodly.
Let me explain by considering “The Parable Of the Persistent Widow:”
-Do we see Jesus castigating the widow for clinging to her victim mentality?
-Do we hear Jesus teaching His disciples that seeking justice is a fruitless or even dangerous pursuit?
-Is the point of this parable that God is worried victims of injustice will get stuck in a victim mentality?
-Or is Jesus teaching His followers to pursue justice and God as God is just being far more righteous than the judge who finally gave into the widow?
I think it is the later. God wants His children to pursue justice and seek Him trusting in His goodness and righteousness.
In addition to that, I think this parable serves as cautionary tale to those who enforce the commandment: “Thou Shalt Not Identify As A Victim!” This parable suggests such individuals are less righteous than the unrighteous judge. At least, he gave some justice to the victim.
I am weary of hearing stories where adultery victims are shamed for sharing their stories. I am weary of Christians treating victimhood as worse than victimizing people. I am weary of watching as Christians sweep real injustices under the rug by writing off actual victims as “too hurt” or “bitter.”
The commandment “Thou Shalt Not Identify As A Victim” is reality denying. Victims exist whether we acknowledge it or not. Pretending that they do not exist or shutting them down with religious shame just means those doing so are on the side of darkness and injustice. It is spiritual abuse.
God’s people ought to be all about supporting victims of injustice!
And I have news for the church:
A faithful spouse who has survived the infidelities of his/her (former) spouse is a victim of many injustices.
This is a historical fact. Just as one historical fact cannot capture the entirety of a person, neither can this historical fact capture the entirety of person who is an adultery victim. But that does not change the historical fact that they are a victim.
A more godly response to victims is to address the injustices or minimally, validate their pain by accepting its reality.
Healing does not come through denying reality.
Progress towards justice cannot be made while stubbornly refusing to accept that victims exist.
God is very interested in justice and protecting the hurting, vulnerable.
How are we doing in being a safe place for others to share their pain and stories of being betrayed? Are we the sort of people that recognize injustice or do we tell the victims to “shut up” and stop “identifying as a victim”? Do we truly share God’s heart for justice and care for the vulnerable? Or does our commitment to justice end when we become uncomfortable in the presence of victims?
“Thou Shalt NOT Identify As A Victim!”
That is one way to go. But, I contend, it is both reality denying and fails to reflect God’s heart for justice. It is not the path I choose.