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Ep. 413 The Problem with Wounded Theology and Victim Identity

Ep. 413 The Problem with Wounded Theology and Victim Identity

Shows Main Idea – Perhaps you have heard someone talk about father wounds or daddy issues. Typically, these descriptors fit within a “wounded theology construct.” It’s part of a materialistic anthropological worldview that veers from the teaching of Scripture. When we integrate the culture into our Christian perspectives, we always come away with a hybrid that is neither Christian nor secular. What are the complicated problems with wounded theology and victim identity?

Show Notes

You may want to read:

Father Wounds

There is no question that fathers are vital in every child’s life. We see this with the rising statistics about crime, predominantly from people who did not have dads during their childhoods. Without compelling and nurturing authority figures, particularly fathers, in our lives, there are many temptations to find replacements to satiate these longings in our souls.

The problem arises when we cast the narrative as something that happened to us, as though they are wounds. The language of victimization shapes how we think about what happened to us. Horizontal thinking misses the grander purposes of suffering from a God-centered presupposition. You’ll rarely hear “wounded victims” talk about “what God meant for good” (cf. Genesis 50:20).

Self-centered

Seeing things through the lens of God-centeredness is the best way to frame the things that happened to us, which does not minimize what happened but changes our sightline for how we see the issues and receive help. Rather than being problem-centered—what someone did to me—it is better to be God-centered—what is Christ doing in me?

  • When you center your problems on the Lord, you look to Him for answers and a path forward.
  • When you center your problems on yourself, you look inward for human-centered, selfishly-motivated, and self-protective answers. The focus becomes your hurt and what they did, which is the set-up for a victim culture.

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete (2 Corinthians 10:3-6).

Self-esteem

Wounded theology ties into self-esteem—a societal theology that amps the focus on self. When problem-solving, you must never start with the accent mark on yourself. You always begin with God. Let me explain with a few illustrations of the “someone wounded me” mindset:

  • My daddy was a mean person; I will find a replacement by trusting nobody but myself.
  • I’m divorced and lonely; I will find another spouse because I deserve it.
  • My parents were unkind people; it’s okay that I live any way I want to live.

What are these folks doing?

They are satiating a longing in their souls for God through self-centered, reactionary means. Some of these longings for a communal experience with the Divine create discontentment, hopelessness, loneliness, and fear—things that all folks experience whether someone abused them or not.

How do you help them?

Sinner-Victim

The tension is with the solution—two things are happening to them, the victim-sinner construct; the abused will only accept their victimness, not their fallenness.

  • I am a victim: “Someone hurt me.”
  • I am a sinner: “I have deeper longings just like everyone else. Perhaps what happened to me compounded those things, but I must deal with what it means to be Adamic.”

This issue is a challenge for even the skilled counselor because the thought of factoring in fallenness in light of the abuse leads to potential adverse reactions.

I touched on how to care for a person like this in my article about empathy and sympathy. Many counselors do not have the skill to walk the abused through these tensions or lack the courage to discuss the matters with them.

What is the result?

In his book, San-Fransicko, Michael Shellenberger nails the worst-case scenario of the damaged soul blinded to its inherent fallenness.

The dark side of victimology is how it moralizes power. Victimology takes the truth, that it is wrong for people to be victimized, and distorts it by going a step further. Victimology asserts that victims are inherently good because they have been victimized.

It robs victims of their moral agency and creates double standards that frustrate any attempt to criticize their behavior even if they are behaving in self-destructive, antisocial ways. Such reasoning is obviously faulty.

It purifies victims of all badness, and it insists that pure victim goodness can only result in more good things, never bad ones. Such a view is obviously wrong, but by appealing to emotion, victimology overrides reason and logic. –Michael Shellenberger from San-Fransicko

The Identity

The “story of the victim’s abuse” is what you’ll hear the most from them. You will not hear as much about how a great God is doing something special despite what happened. After a while, the continual replaying of the abuse narrative provides them an identity—a victim identity.

They become survivors, which is bandied about more than them being Christians.

When you listen to victims, you want to gauge where they are by the content of what they say. They either frame things in a God-centered worldview or a personal identity worldview.

Whatever you make your identity will determine your attitude, behavior, what you will tolerate from others, and what you will do to them if they go against your “identity worldview.”

The Solution

But when the focus becomes “someone wounded Christ,” you’re at a different place, thinking about better questions and transformative applications. For example,

  1. Am I focusing more on what has happened to me or what has happened to Christ because of me? I’m not minimizing what happened to me but prioritizing it.
  2. Am I more controlled by what others did to me or what the Father is doing in me and through me because of the wounds of Christ?
  3. Are my circumstances shaping me into the image of the Savior? If not, then I’m missing the point of my circumstances.

Wounded theology is the wrong path to go down. It will harden anyone into victimization while missing the purposes of the crushing of Christ and the eventual freedom He experienced so we could be free.

My argument and warning against wounded theology are not about denying the horrific events in anyone’s life but about reframing the solution in a Christocentric, cross-carrying worldview that leads to a God-centered victory.

Call to Action

  1. Do you consider yourself a victim of something or someone? What happened? Who did what to you?
  2. When you think of how Joseph framed his ordeal, he talked about the horizontal sin and the vertical purposes. He placed the accent mark on God’s purposes, not his sinister brothers. What do you think about that? How does it apply to you?
  3. Are you blind to your behaviors? Do you take an unwitting license to sin against others, albeit you’re not in tune with what you’re doing? What if you scrolled through your social media history to review how you talk to others.
  4. Do you carry unforgiveness in your heart toward someone? Though you might not be able to transact forgiveness, what do you need to do to have an attitude of forgiveness? (cf. Matthew 18:35)
  5. What specific way do you need to change to be more God-centered?

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