The Conservative Power Agenda, Or Counselor Charlie Discusses Victimhood

Every time my local Christian radio station shares a news story about the sanctity of marriage being threatened or Christian morality being challenged by the homosexual agenda, I’m taken aback. I don’t know why I’m surprised – they play these news stories enough that the initial shock should be gone. I think I’m just surprised at how overtly the conservative/Republican agenda is assumed as the worldview of all Christians and broadcast to all listening.

Similarly, I recently flipped through a catalog of Christian books a company sent me hoping to entice sales. After flipping through a few times in my preferred reading spot (take a guess) I realized that they had conveniently left out any author even remotely close to progressive. John Eldridge was about the most liberal of the bunch they sell. (I found it fascinating that they sold dozens of health and wealth style authors claiming God wants to you to be successful, in my opinion a more dangerous perspective than most progressives hold). I saw yet again the conservative agenda strongly in place and in power.

Really this is no secret. Some of the most generously funded Christian colleges are quasi-fundamentalist ones. Conservative Christians are easily in power. The ones most highly offended are also the ones who can complain about it and get the offender removed.

A common criticism, especially by semi-frequent commenter Donald, of the progressive types is that they perpetuate victim-hood Christianity. Progressive types tend to speak often of their treacherous religious upbringing, lamenting the hardcore fundamentalism indoctrinated into them by over-zealous and controlling leaders. In such a scenario the progressives are the victims of religious abuse.

"Have you heard of the victim-offender-rescuer triangle?"

I think the propensity to claim one as innocent, as a victim, is not merely a progressive Christian phenomenon. It’s a human one (conservatives often make themselves the victim of a liberal world run amuck). Victimhood is a stage that not only can grant us heaps of sympathy and pity, but even moreso becomes a terrific justification for both retaliation and inaction. We can easily justify returning ungracefulness and repaying evil. We can effortlessly use the wrongs against us an excuse or smoke screen for sitting.

No one wants to admit they’re an offender, so by default we make ourselves the offended.

As I seem to usually conclude, there is a balance here. Certainly life isn’t fair and we are all dealt very uneven cards that are difficult to work with, and the frustration can seem paralyzing. But at the same time we cannot wander the earth sighing about how we evil and twisted we are and how we constantly offend. I think we will all forever dance between these two roles and not fall into either of their traps, which are ultimately backwards attempts at power.

Do you agree we all have a tendency to play the victim? How have you seen this played out in Christian circles? Do you also see how the conservative agenda is firmly in place? 

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19 Responses to The Conservative Power Agenda, Or Counselor Charlie Discusses Victimhood

  1. We all tend to play the victim in some way Charlie. Least I think so. Even those who accuse others of living in victimhood, ultimately play the victim as well. I think in Christian circles it is often seen on a stronger basis because we are “conditioned” to feel and to tell our stories that will touch heart strings. I hate to say it but I do believe there is embellishment at times. IMHO I don’t think it is a conservative/liberal line. I think both are included.

  2. Carolyn says:

    Oh Charlie! I love illustrations! Yea you! So… what I know of victimhood is this: I was raised in a fundamentalist church and we were victimized by the hippy liberals trying to desecrate God’s truth, God’s country, and Mama’s fried chicken. I was also taught to be a victim as a girl. Seriously. I have studied this in college.;) But the day I figured it out, I was just driving along (I really don’t think God should give me revelations when I’m driving – it could be dangerous!) and listening to the radio. There was a song that came on – I think it was the country version but not sure. Yes, it was a song so popular that year that a country artist AND a boy band had both recorded and both got awards for it. Oops. Digression. Anyway, the lyrics (somebody chime in here if I get it wrong) said, “they read you Cinderella/you hoped it would come true/that someday your Prince Charming would come rescue you”. And just like a 2 x 4 slapping me upside the head (as I said – dangerous when you are driving) it came to me: I have to play the victim or the Knight in Shining Armor will not come rescue me. I mean, what are you going to do when he gallops up on his white horse and calls out, “Damsel in distress! I am here to rescue you!”? Do you just say, “Sorry, we’re all fine here. Try looking for distress at the next castle down the road'”? The fairy tale cannot take its natural course if the princess/poor girl is not being victimized in some way. So… combine the “girls need to be victims so boys can rescue them” with fundamentalist victimization and its a wonder I’m not screaming and calling you all perpetrators on a daily basis. (I only call you that when you aren’t listening, Charlie – hehehe) And yes, I see that the conservative agenda is firmly in place. I see how the liberal agenda is firmly in place. Geez, I even usually have an agenda of some sort. The thing is, what I see today is just a lot of people – conservative, liberal, independent, unsure, whatever – getting away from the true message of Jesus and grace. Does that mean we are victimized? Probably not. We are at war. Jesus told us that we are at war. He told us who we are at war with and why. So if you want to call getting attacked by the Father of Lies “victimization”, go ahead. I see it as war. And I have the full armor of Christ at my disposal, so I don’t need no stinky boy riding a horse to come fight for me (that last was a joke – the horse bit, not the armor of Christ bit – for my Hubby who isn’t even reading this – silly me). When Jesus finally comes back riding a white horse, HE can rescue me and I will be fine with that. (wish I could put illustrations in the comments – I would have drawn you a pretty Cinderella stick figure!)

    • haha I see a touched on something you may have thought of once or twice. I didn’t even realize how girls are taught to dream of being rescued (therefore implying victimhood) – but man that’s so true. It’s no wonder teenager girls play up drama – they want a rescuer like they’ve been taught to want! I’m happy to report my wife was doing just fine before she met me, I certainly didn’t rescue her, if anything I’ve given her more headaches!

      I agree the liberal agenda is in place too, but I definitely see the conservative one strongly in place (I see it precisely because it is not my perspective).

  3. All the “who’s in charge” questions and debates in our world are mildly humorous. Especially when those who claim that God is completely in charge insist that THEY should be the ones in charge.

  4. jeff says:

    The Christian religion and particularly the Catholic version has been used for centuries to manipulate the peasantry while reaping treasure for the religious leaders.(i.e. the Vatican) As Protestants became relevant they produced their own power brokers out to enrich themselves. Now that religion is being seen by more and more as irrelevant, and unable to manipulate the masses, the religious power brokers are turning to the Government to assist them in the manipulation. Europrans have rejected it but there are still plenty of Americans to make the effort worthwhile here.
    I have met very few religious people that won’t jump at the chance to tell someone what to think or how to act. The problem is they act or think no better or worse than anyone else. This world has plenty of victims through no fault of their own. If the religious purveyors would concentrate on these victims instead of themselves things might be better for everyone. And people that think for themselves may find something in these purveyors to think positive about.
    Until then, “the invisible friend in the sky story” is getting a bit worn out.

  5. David says:

    Do you agree we all have a tendency to play the victim?
    I do think that many folks will take whatever they can get for free, and human nature is to work the least amount of hours for the most amount of pay.

    I do think that there is always a victim role, particularly in partisan demagoguery. We are constantly trying to point fingers at the bad guys, and the les fortunate if it supports our case.

    How have you seen this played out in Christian circles?
    It’s not in mine. We don’t see ourselves as conservative or liberal, man or woman, black or white, salve or free. This is just childishness which Paul warned against in various ways.

    There is not a people group that has not been victimized at one point or another; again, pure childishness.

    Do you also see how the conservative agenda is firmly in place?
    I perceive that is what you perceive, yes.

    Let me lay out the agenda for you Charlie.

    If we take things on an issue-by-issue basis there is no agenda. The environment: God said take care of it, does that make me a liberal? God said that marriage is between a man and a woman, does that make me a conservative? God said that the punishment for murder (not killing, but murder) should be death, again, does that make me a conservative, or God?

    I get really tired of agendas. The truth is that God only has one will and in the case of a voting for president, both parties can’t be doing God’s will. Somehow we get the peverted idea that God wants certain people in power and controls that. If that were the case all the kings of Israel would have been awesome, but they weren’t. What God does is allow sinfulness, the wiles of the devil, the evilness of human nature and people’s arrogance, stupidity and lofty agrendas to play right into his hand. Tha my friend is what Jesus died for, not some political agenda, and the right to do as we please.

    It all comes down to knowing and hearing God, not having personl ideas. If God has an opinion, then we don’t get to have one. WWJD? He would do what he saw tht Father doing, and we should learn how to do the same.

    • I don’t totally agree with your quick political issue assessment but who cares. I appreciated what you said about God supposedly wanting certain people in power – I hear that so much and can’t even begin to understand it. As usual David you’ve handled like six topics in one comment. You should consider giving blogging a shot one of these days 🙂

  6. Darius says:

    Pretty much what David said.

    I’ve seen some of the anger, angst, and victimhood played out in my Christian circles. I try to speak against that as much as I speak against the evils of liberalism/progressivism. As Pastor Doug Wilson says, being a Christian who is faithful to the Bible will make you “some sort of conservative.” Like David said above, if you’re true to what God says, then you’re going to tend to look like a conservative. But labels only go so far. “Compassionate conservatism” is really anything but in many cases, particularly when it comes to economics.

    “The truth is that God only has one will and in the case of a voting for president, both parties can’t be doing God’s will.”

    But they both might NOT be doing it. 🙂 David’s comment is exactly why I loathe bipartisanship. If one understands the HUGE ideological differences between liberals and conservatives, one knows that, with few exceptions, the only way a bipartisan plan comes together in national politics is if both sides compromise. And since either one view or the other is right and the opposing view is wrong, then some squishy position between the two is also wrong (just not as wrong perhaps). As a (hopefully) Biblical Christian, I view the liberal agenda as almost entirely evil, with few exceptions. I don’t want compromise with that. God didn’t ask for the Israelites to come to a religious compromise with the religions around them… He demanded complete faithfulness and the destruction of all other religions. Liberalism is a religion, one that puts the state as an idol to be worshiped as the giver of all good things.

    That said, certain forms of conservatism can also be an idol… particularly when Christians fall into the whole “American Exceptionalism” idolatry trap. I can’t stand that either. It may lead to better policies than liberalism, but it’s still a spiritual rot in the hearts of those who believe in it.

    And AMEN about the health and wealth cancer in the American Church. It IS dangerous.

    • David says:

      Amen! How about we follow God to the exclusivity of being tolerant, logical, politically correct and on occasion persecuted?

      Amen to idols!

    • Chris says:

      “And since either one view or the other is right and the opposing view is wrong, then some squishy position between the two is also wrong.”

      I’ll quote you again. “they both might NOT be doing it.” Or (my words) they might both be wrong, or partially wrong, or partially right or some combinaiton thereof.

      If you’ve ever spent any time serving on a committee where not all were of like mind (and even sometimes when they supposedly are) then you know that sometimes you just have to compromise. We don’t always get to win. When dealing with fallible humans we allow for differences of opinion. I might not like those opinions, but if all I ever do is dig my heels in then nothing would ever get done and I probably don’t belong in public service. It might seem like a lousy system, but it’s the best one going.

    • David says:

      @Darius – if you want to to do a guest blog, you are quite welcome! Just email Charlie, he can set you up! Charlie you can join in too! i am serious!

  7. jeff says:

    I am very glad this country is secular by law. People that think they know what Their God wants can be downright fools.

  8. Chris says:

    Is the conservative agenda firmly in place?

    It depends where you look.

    Within Christendom, if you look at the mainline Christian denominations (of which a fairly large piece of the Christian pie still consists) you would never come away with the impression that conservatism holds sway. Even within evangelicalism liberalism is slowly gaining a foothold.
    There are still bastions and pockets of the conservative agenda (whatever that is) in American Christianity (and to a lesser extent European Christianity) and these still seem to retain some power and manage to maintain a fairly strong voice in our culture.
    But overall I think being a victim, as you implied, is more about on which side of the fence you happen to be currently sitting.

    It’s interesting. I tend toward the conservative, but I think as I’ve gotten older I’ve become a bit more liberal. I think liberals, like a lot of other people, like the rest of us, are just trying to do the very best they can with the information they have. They may be wrong in my view, but that doesn’t make them demonic or pawns of the devil. Many that I’ve known have come to their conclusions honestly and after much thought and consideration simply view things differently than I do. Something I appreciate about liberals is that by-and-large they are often more intellectually honest than many conservative people I know. By that I mean they will often admit their doubts but try to move forward while still acknowledging them. Many conservatives I know are very unwilling to countenance the notion that they could ever be wrong or mistaken about anything. Especially anything pertaining to the religious or theological.

    That being said I do believe there are spiritual battles taking place. This country having had its inception with the Judeo-Christian God firmly in mind is having God slowly squeezed out. We are not a theocracy, nor should we ever be, but the underpinnings are there. It’s been said that neither an Islam nor a Bhuddism, nor a Hinduism, nor any other world religion could have ever dreamt up a United States of America. Only within the Christian framework could this country have gotten off the ground. Of course, I’m assuming that most people believe that that was a good thing. I don’t want to get jingoistic, but wouldn’t the enemy be all the more giddy if those underpinnings were eradicated and we became completely secular.

    By the same token, I’ve heard it said that one of the quickest ways to lose one’s faith is to enroll at Princeton Theological Seminary (or Harvard Divinity, etc, etc.). Although not everyone’s story is like his (but many are) Bart Ehrman went to Princeton a committed Christian and came out an avowed atheist. And he is one of the highest regarded New Testament scholars in academia. Princeton is thoroughly liberal.

    Something to think about before embracing liberalism, hook, line & sinker.

    • I agree it is all where you look. I suppose lately I’ve tuned into Christian radio and gotten Christian magazines and book catalogues – in those places the conservatives rule the day. To their credit conservatives are more likely to donate to the cause, so it makes sense they get their way.

      I appreciated your breakdown about the conservative-liberal debate. I do think both sides genuinely arrive at their positions – I even think to some extent it comes down to personality – liberals tend be risk takers.

      But yes academics these days is very darn liberal. Of course there are classic Christian institutions that are still very conservatives, but there are many a seminary undergoing what you said.

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