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A Christian Condemnation of Victimhood Culture

God did not call Christians to be weak. Male or female, we were called to “be strong and courageous” (Joshua 1:9). We were called to be willing to go happily to our deaths as martyrs like the Apostles. [1]

There are some behaviors that are so petty that ink should never have been spilled to justify them. One clear example of this phenomenon is the publication of an article by Janelle Davis of CNN which discusses the trials and tribulations of using the term “ma’am” to address women.

As the article states, “Historically, female youth is connected to all kinds of privileged social attributes – beauty, fertility and marriageability. If these attributes represent a subjective peak of femininity, the less young a woman is, the less compelling her social standing. When a woman is called ‘ma’am,’ even by a well-meaning stranger, it can send a specific and unwanted social message.” [2]

While all of this may be true by degrees, it certainly does not paint the full picture. The mistake in Davis’ article is not that it mentions this as a fact but that it takes pains to validate and justify women who take offense at the use of the term.

To be fair, Davis is not holding herself out as a representative of Christians. However, she is representative of a widespread attitude being spread across America that views taking personal offense as the same as being attacked.

When are we as a culture going to be comfortable saying, “no, you don’t have a right to be offended?” Christians have a tendency to be nice, but this cultural trajectory is unsustainable. This is not about the over-used saying, “speaking the truth in love,” this is about the fact that we are not taught by the Bible to adopt an attitude of victimhood.

Researchers have found that harmful attitudes of victimhood usually appear in instances where a person shows signs of “(a) constantly seeking recognition for one’s victimhood, (b) moral elitism, (c) lack of empathy for the pain and suffering of others, and (d) frequently ruminating about past victimization.” [3]

Unfortunately, the tone of articles like the one written by Davis applaud those who want to be seen as victimized by the word ‘ma’am.’ They portray the person claiming victimhood as morally superior, assign bad intentions to the people using the word ‘ma’am,’ and encourage other women to feel victimized by the word.

Victimhood is not a philosophy for life, nor is it compatible with a Christian sense of our higher purpose on this planet. We are not here to serve our own comforts but to honor God’s plan for our life, no matter where that takes us.

This life is not what matters; our discomfort and unhappiness are fleeting. What matters most is fixing our eyes on God. This is not only good advice for Christians but for the whole of humanity. As Matthew 10:28 reminds us, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.”

Whatever minor offenses we experience, we must always remember to put it into the perspective of the Kingdom, and to be strong and courageous in the name of God.

Foundations of Truth hereby waives all claim of copyright (economic and moral) in this work and immediately places it in the public domain; it may be used, published, edited, and distributed in any manner whatsoever without any attribution or notice to Foundations of Truth.


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