“I’m Tired of the Victim Excuse”
Christians author and psychologist Larry Crabb tells us that we are sinners, and we are the victims of sin. In that statement (which I totally agree with), Dr. Crabb is acknowledging that there are times, perhaps many, when people are the victims of other people’s sins. A marriage often fails when at least one person or two are to blame affects the children. The father who abandons his family to solicit an affair has left his wife and kids as victims of his sinful choice. When a child is abused, a woman attacked, a person murdered, we are looking at examples of true victims of sin. I want to focus on the first part of Dr. Crabb’s statement, namely we are sinners. We live in a society today where everyone wants to be a victim or make someone a victim when they are not.
- Examples of victimization:
When a person excuses their own sin or the sin of others and tries to turn themselves or others into a victim, they are falling for the myth of victimization. Again, we are not talking about true victims who are caught in the crossfire of sin but who are actually responsible for having made bad choices and are blaming others or claiming that they are a victim. There are many examples of this. Let me list some in society as well as the church so we can expose this and overcome it.
a) One of the more common ways this happens is when we blame bad behavior on our parents. It may be true that we picked up some bad examples and habits from our family upbringing, but that is not a legitimate excuse. It might be a reason we are struggling with a particular issue, but it is not a legitimate excuse; its only an example of victimization.
b) When a person who is capable of working and supporting himself chooses to rely on government, agencies, or the church, and claims they are a victim because they lost their job through no fault of their own. It may be true they lost their job, but if they are capable of working, then being a victim will only keep them from seeking employment.
c) When someone leaves a church or a relationship with another Christian with unsettled conflict. We have the tendency to turn these people into victims. They often have issues that are sin-related. When we see them as victims and try to blame others for their exit we are enabling them in their victimization. The list is almost endless of examples of victimization, but I will provide these three.
- Solutions to overcoming victimization:
a) Take responsibility: When we see ourselves as responsible for our actions (including those that are evil) we can confess and take responsibility.
b. Understand we are free moral agents: God has given us the freedom to make choices. With that freedom comes both responsibility and results. If we make wise choices, we will reap blessing and when we make bad or sinful choices, we will suffer the consequences. When we are suffering the results of bad choices as free moral agents, we cannot claim that we are victims. If we are, then we are the victims of our own choices.
c. Correct your theology: Most of the bad thinking we have in life is because we have wrong theology. Wrong theology is nothing more or less then a wrong view of God and His Word. It’s as simple and as profound as that.
Hold others responsible: When in the course of our lives we are entrusted with the opportunity or privilege of influencing people, we should take advantage of this and teach people that they are not victims. If we care about people, we will tell them what they need to hear and not what they want to hear. They must be told with love that they are not victims. We must encourage others who see themselves wrongly as victims to change their thinking.
Reasons we should not embrace victimization:
a. It excuses sin: Blame shifting is as old as Adam and Eve. It never acknowledges personal responsibilities. It promotes victimization and with that, it undermines sin.
b. It prevents change: If we believe we are products of the past, then there is no hope for change. One of the most positive things about biblical counseling is that people come out of sessions with hope. They can change. Before they came to a biblical counselor they were told by those with a secular world view that they are victims. This meant there was nothing they could do about their problems; they simply must learn to live with them. But when they are given a biblical approach which refuses to turn them into victims, people have hope that things can change.
c. It undermines Scripture: The Bible doesn’t depict people as total victims of sin. While Scriptures recognize victims and even record examples, it clearly teaches that we are free moral agents who make decisions. The Scriptures give us principles for our life choices; when we refuse to employ them, we have nobody but ourselves to blame for the results.
In conclusion, let’s not fall into the temptation of excusing poor behavior or choices on victimhood. Let’s understand that God will not allow any excuses at the Day of Judgment. Let’s run away from victimization and reap the benefits that freedom from it will bring.