Like Button

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Modern Card Games

It was some time ago now, but one of the first (of, perhaps, three?) people I had to ask not to comment here anymore was a guy who made it a practice of accusing me of "playing the victim card". I tried to explain I wasn't. He disagreed ... in a less than friendly manner. I explained that repeated accusations like that made conversations difficult. And after awhile, we parted ways.

We know what it means to "play the race card". It might be something like, "She gets away with it because she's white." Or "You wouldn't treat me that way if I wasn't black." It's applying "race" as the reason (generally instead of every other possible rational reason). That kind of thing. "If I can't get you to go my way by force of logic, I'll do it by shaming you into appearing racist." But what does it mean to "play the victim card"?

There are similarities, I'm sure. In one case it's "feel bad for me because of my race" and in the other it's "feel bad for me because I'm a victim." There is generally, in both cases, the attempt to manipulate by way of feelings. In one it's "You're not a racist, are you?" In the other it's "You're not so cold-hearted that you can't see I'm suffering here, are you?" Same idea. In both cases the aim is to manipulate your responses in order to get you to agree or go along.

Here's the difficulty. In too many cases the accusation can be made -- "Don't go playing the race card" or "You're just playing the victim card" -- when no such card has been played. That is, in genuine cases of racism or victim-hood, it isn't necessarily true that the aim is to manipulate. Sometimes it is intended to speak the truth.

So, say, in the case of an actual victim, in what sense could a person point to their condition as a victim and not be "playing the victim card"? That, I think, would be the case if they were not trying to use it to persuade you to go along with them. Let's try an extreme example. "I was a victim of Auschwitz" would be a genuine victim, but if it was followed by, "and I forgave my captors," you couldn't call it "playing the victim card". It is not capitalizing on the victim status to get you to go along.

In recent times I have complained about the loss of religious liberty we see in America today. Some may disagree that any such thing is occurring. So be it. Most are aware of it and some I've talked to are glad about it. "'Bout time religion got pushed down." Many of those complaining about these facts are doing so to try to reverse the trend. It could easily be argued that they're playing the victim card. "Oh, poor us, we're being mistreated and you need to stop." I get it. But in my case I actually don't believe that this is my intent. What I have tried to do is call Christians not to trust in a court system or religious liberty laws or our society to defend our rights. I've tried to suggest that it is expected, even beneficial to have these so-called rights removed. Many (most?) who see the problem are up in arms over it. I'm suggesting that we try the biblical approach.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you. (1 Peter 4:12)

They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. (Acts 5:40-41)

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:6-7)

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)
John wrote, "Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you." (1 John 3:13) That's not a victim card. That's "Be ready for it." Remember, it was Jesus who said, "Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matt 5:10-12)

Now, we are certainly not "persecuted" like others around the globe are. Using that term is a bit difficult because it does sound like the victim card is being played, and not when it refers to a real victim. But Jesus referred to persecution in terms of insults and false accusations of evil. And it cannot be doubted that we're seeing this today. What I'm saying is not "Stand up and fight for your rights" or even "Do your best to convince people to change." I'm saying, "Expect it. And rejoice!" I'm not saying, "They need to change!" It's us. I'm hoping to stir Christians to biblical thinking and response. And I don't think that qualifies as "playing the victim card".


Craig said...

I agree with your point about the word "persecuted". It get's thrown out much too often regarding things happening in the U.S. and when it does it diminishes the actual persecution that actual Christians are subject to all over the world as we speak. At this point I would suggest that virtually nothing in this country rises to the level of persecutions. I also agree that whatever term is used that this push back should ultimately be healthy for the Church. It seems that suffering for the sake of the Kingdom is not a bad thing, but the opposite.

The question is, how then do we engage in contending against those who would harm, marginalize, or actually deny the place of Christianity in the public square?

Stan said...

I only use "persecution" to describe American Christianity today because Jesus used the term. I'm not sure, given the varying use of terms and understanding these days, that it works very well.

I'm having a hard time offering methods of engaging to stop harm, marginalization, or removal of Christianity from the public square. I'm having a hard time because I don't find any good biblical examples. We read things like "turn the other cheek". We see that Jesus nor Paul nor the Apostles ever seemed to "engage in contending against" those things, but instead rejoiced when they happened. I think of Paul sitting in prison in Rome chained between two guards and he saw it not as a violation of rights, but an opportunity to preach the Gospel.

On the other hand, we are citizens. There are laws, a Bill of Rights, and that kind of thing. And we are to "always [be] prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you", ever keeping in mind that Peter followed that instruction with "yet do it with gentleness and respect." (1 Peter 3:15). Without anger then, without righteous indignation, without even a sense of self-defense, but more of a "You know, if we are going to follow the laws of the land, we might need to take a different approach than the one you are taking against us now" approach. (Regardless of my views on Kim Davis and how right (or not) she was in her position, I was impressed with her attitude. When the judge sent her to jail, she didn't protest. She said, "Thank you." I hope that when my turn comes I'll be that gracious.)

Do you have other (better) ideas?

Craig said...

I'm not faulting you for using the term, it just seems like what we see in the US as persecution demeans the very real and serious persecution going on elsewhere. I am also at a loss for a better term given the Biblical precedent.

I guess the engage/defend thing may being more of a individual decision than a blanket yes or no.

Stan said...

I'm sure there's some freedom there, some choices that some may make that others should not. You know, "Whatever is not of faith is sin." But I do believe that far too many Christians are going to war with "mistreatment" not based on biblical reasons, but American "I've got my rights!" reasons. Somehow many American Christians get American freedoms mixed up with Christian values and they're not the same.

An example I saw was from a few years back. A Christian truck driver refused to do overnight runs with female drivers because he was married and it would violate his beliefs. They scheduled him for a run with a female. He refused. They fired him. He sued. I would have recommended he rejoice to be counted worthy to suffer for Christ. He practiced his faith. They let him go. Should have been the end of it.