Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning in a paper entitled, “Microaggression and Moral Culture” contend that we’re in the midst of a key cultural change in our culture. Prior to the 18th and 19th centuries we live in an “honor culture” in which people earned honor and were called upon to avenge insults to their honor on their own. But because personal insults would require a personal response, people would count the cost of confrontation. With the emergence of our elaborate rule of law, “a dignity culture” replaced the honor culture. Violence was replace by the courts or administrative bodies dealing with major transgressions, while minor transgressions were dealt with personally.
Today we are becoming a “victim culture,” in which we are encouraged to respond to even the slightest unintentional offense. Redress is found by appealing for help from powerful others or administrative bodies, to whom we can make the case that we have been victimized. David French observes, “This is the culture of the mirco-aggression where people literally seek out opportunities to be offended. Once victimized a person gains power – but not through an personal risk. Indeed, it is the victim’s hypersensitivity and fragility that makes them politically and socially strong.” The authors of the article warn us, “…victimhood culture causes a downward spiral of competitive victimhood. Young people on the left and the right get sucked into its vortex of grievance. We can expect political polarization to get steadily worse in the coming decade as this moral culture of victimhood spreads.”
French goes on to say that the present victim culture is killing American manhood. “There is high incentive for conflict, with little or no personal risk to balance the desire for vengeance. In a victim culture, a person cultivates their sense of weakness and fragility, actively retarding the process of growing up. There is zero incentive to mature, because maturity can actually decrease your power and influence……Developing toughness used to be a defining male characteristic. The idea of appealing for help because one’s feeling were hurt, was frankly bizarre.”
As I write, I think of Peter’s invitation to follow Jesus. What a dramatic contrast to the coming victim culture. “This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step. He never did one thing wrong; Not once said anything amiss. They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right. He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way” (I Peter 2:21-24 – The Message). We are invited to face the same victimization as did Jesus.
Men, the days of soft, cultural Christianity are fading fast. The “squishy middle” is eroding. Those committed to Jesus will face opposition from those opposed to the way of Jesus. The words of Jesus will become more our experience. “If you find the godless world is hating you, remember it got it start hating me. If you lived on the world’s terms, the world would love you as one of its own. But since I picked you to live on God’s terms and no longer on the world’s terms, the world is going to hate you” (John 15:18-19 – Message). May God give you grace as we become a victim for Jesus and accept it with joy. “Your blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom” (Matt 5:10 – The Message).