Gospel for Victims

The devil loves to deck his hard-heartedness out as compassion. He is a liar; that’s what he does. One of his techniques is to make forgiveness and vindication a binary operation. He puts the whole thing on a toggle switch. It must either be this or that.

But this means if two parties are involved in a conflict, all the sin must be on one side and all the righteousness on the other. And since we can all see the sin on the other side (very clearly), that must mean that we are in the clear. We like being in the clear, and so we roll with that.Forgive

It also means that anyone who has been wronged is being offered a standing excuse to not have to confess his own sin. But if he takes that out, what he is doing is hardening his heart against the gospel. The gospel is offered to all who repent and believe. And when I am repenting, the very nature of the operation excludes simultaneous accusations leveled against anyone who has previously wronged me.

A bystander might know that the sins committed against such a person were egregious, and that — socially speaking — the sins of the person wronged were relatively trivial. That’s as may be. But to give the wronged person a “bye,” as though salvation were a double elimination tournament, is to rob that person of gospel. The gospel is only for sinners.

In order to repent, I do not need to compare my sins with those of others. Indeed, I must not. We all know, as a simple matter of logic, that if such sins were compared, they would do well against some and poorly against others. But that is not the point. It is utterly beside the point.

I can confess the sins of one who has wronged me, and I can do it all day, and yet not receive forgiveness. To the extent that I am aware of the sins of others in my time of confession, I must be aware of them in a disposition of forgiveness because the Lord instructs to pray that we may receive forgiveness in the same manner, and to the same extent, and with the same willingness, as we extend forgiveness to those who have wronged us.

This is the kind of teaching — delivered to us by the Lord Himself — that can make us writhe. We call up appalling scenarios. Do you mean to tell me that there will be slave traders like John Newton who will be saved and slaves who died on his ship in transit who will be lost? The appalling scenarios can of course be multiplied. Manasseh was a king who did some awful things, but repented at the end. Were any of his victims eternally lost? The thief on the cross acknowledged that he deserved to die, but was ushered into Paradise after he did. Were any of his victims not so fortunate? Thus we argue our way into being the elder brother in the Lord’s parable.

The point is not to be a dog in a manger, or to agitate on behalf of repentant oppressors. We don’t want any of those who were wronged to be lost. We want to imitate God in His grace, which means being unwilling that any should perish.

We want all to come in — but it is necessary for all to come in on the same terms. All of us, oppressors and victims alike, are sinners in need of forgiveness. There was only one true Victim, and He died so that we might die in Him, and He rose so that we might rise in Him. We are offered this salvation independent of whether anyone else — whether my creditor or my debtor does not matter — takes Him up on the same offer.

And so, when we see some people — in the name of racial reconciliation, or sexual justice, or victims’ rights — denying that those who have suffered oppression ever have to repent of anything, we should not let that stand. The agitators will want to represent this resistance as somehow excusing, or advocating, or carrying water for the oppressor. Not at all. It is simply a defense of the gospel — the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. And through defending that gospel, we find that we are defending the possibility of salvation for absolutely anyone. Victims have had enough taken away from them already. Why would you want to take their forgiveness away?

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Jill Smith
Member

I understand that true repentance involves focusing on our own sins and forgiving those who have sinned against us. But does recognizing that a wrong has been done to us, and feeling the pain of that wrong, mean that we are not repentant of our own sins? When my husband left me for another woman, he did it in a way that inflicted great pain on my daughter. Although I never felt angry, as opposed to heartbroken, about his leaving me, I did feel upset when I was dealing with her distress. I have truly done my best never to… Read more »

Laura
Guest
Laura

I don’t think that was Doug’s point, jillybean.

I think Doug’s point is that your husband sinned greatly, yes, and needs to repent.

If you ever sinned against him, his sin doesn’t let you off the hook. You need to repent of whatever it was, for your sake, not for his. He doesn’t have the right to ask you to. But you need it.

I believe that’s it, anyway.

Laura
Guest
Laura

I have a lapel pin that reads “I just hope God grades on a curve.” That would be great, wouldn’t it? But he doesn’t.

bethyada
Member

But does the fact that I think what he did was wrong mean that I have failed in repentance and forgiveness?

No

doug sayers
Guest
doug sayers

A great lesson here, thanks Doug. If we really saw ourselves as the chief of sinners we would not have so much trouble with this. Many of your detractors don’t see themselves as guilt worthy before God therefore they keep biting so hard at your ankles. I think Kenny Rogers’ old Gambler was right on this much: “… every hand’s a winner and every hand’s a loser.” We should simply play the hand we are dealt and leave the judging to God. Unto whom more revelation is given… more faith is required. (I must admit that I enjoy and benefit… Read more »

Gregory C Dickison
Guest
Gregory C Dickison

First, thanks for this post. It cuts to the chase. It reminds of stuff your dad said in his pamphlet on bitterness.

Second, your blog appears to have a pop-up add for the Free Speech Apocalypse, which is highly annoying (the pop-up, not the movie – the movie was great).

Thanks!

jigawatt
Guest
jigawatt

“Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, for you are a victim and have done absolutely no wrong in this matter.””

John 8:10-11 (RHE)

insanitybytes22
Member

There’s another real verse that applies here, the woman with the perfume, “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been
forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves
little.”

jigawatt
Guest
jigawatt

Yes, that is another good example. If by “real verse” you’re referring to the doubtful authenticity of the account in John 8, I agree also. It’s most probably not canonical, but also probably a true story, more or less.

insanitybytes22
Member

I love the account in John 8, I just don’t like the version you used.

Katecho
Member

I suspect that RHE may be the Rachael Held Evans version. And we weren’t supposed to like it.

jigawatt
Guest
jigawatt

I suspect that RHE may be the Rachael Held Evans version.

Yes, and it’s also the Revisionist Hermenutic Edition.

And I hear they’re working on the SSV – Safe Space Version, geared toward college students, of course. It’s just going to be 1 John 4:8 over and over and over again.

Lance Roberts
Guest

What an awful version. He never said she didn’t do anything wrong. He let her go because the law said that you had to have multiple witnesses for a capital crime and there were none left. He told her then ‘Go and sin no more’.

Kelly M. Haggar
Guest
Kelly M. Haggar

Yo, Lance, lighten up! She’s making a joke. It’s a parody. And, IMHO, it’s wickedly funny.

jigawatt
Guest
jigawatt

For the record, jigawatt is a dude, not a chick. Hmm, maybe I should have said “male, not a female”. Ah, what the heck … won’t be too long before that’s just as offensive as “dude” and “chick”.

Kelly M. Haggar
Guest
Kelly M. Haggar

Whatever; it’s still funny. (I have a girl’s name but I’m not one.)

Besides, this will be about the LAST place on Earth the PC police take over.

No, on second thought, their loss rate will be so high I doubt they’ll try. ;).

RFB
Guest
RFB

I always thought Kelly was a man’s name. Might be just my imagination, but it seemed like early mid 80’s and a lot of androgyny in names started up.

drewnchick
Member

Stacy, Tracy, Kim, Kelly, Sandy, Taylor, Tyler, Toni, Billie, Sue (there WAS that one boy…)

Jane
Member

Many of those are, or were, differentiated by spelling (though that’s broken down, too.)

Stacy/Stacey, Tracy/Tracey, Tony/Toni, Billy/Billie, Leslie/Lesley, etc.

Last time I knew a guy near my age named Kelly (until recently, although our good Atty. Kelly appears to be somewhat older than I) was in college in the 80s.

RFB
Guest
RFB

Careful with those “somewhat older” things. I might need a trigger warning. ????

drewnchick
Member

????

Seriously?
How’d you DO that?!! Come on…I practically have to re-engineer the C++ coding just to boldface something, and you’re dropping in smilies?? No fair!

RFB
Guest
RFB

I thought it fitting considering the rocky terrain. Work from the disqus site instead of the blog. I find that Thibault cancels out Capa Ferro. Don’t you?

katie
Guest
katie

Unless the enemy has studied his Agrippa.

RFB
Guest
RFB

Correct, but it is okay, because I am no one of consequence.

drewnchick
Member

Well, your avatar looks female…

Kelly M. Haggar
Guest
Kelly M. Haggar

Almost spewed over the keyboard. VERY funny.

Tony
Guest

lol good one. I admit that I didn’t immediately realize that you were making a joke..

ashv
Guest
ashv

Yeah it’s interesting to me how few commentators miss the humor in the original, too — how do you catch just ONE person in adultery? That’s about as likely as a turtle on a fence post.

herewegokids
Guest
herewegokids

There is an emotional compassion that does not help those it is extended to, even though those who extend it may be sincere. There is also a falseness that proffers demeaning, antibiblical abusive pastoring and calls *that* compassion. The proper term for that is “gaslighting” and i believe it to be more harmful.

adad0
Member

Then there is just “gassing”, also known as “flatulent hubris”,
which is often emotional,

but not very compassionate. ; – )

adad0
Member

Hey Doug! As victims go, that Stephen was pretty good at forgiving wasn’t he?! It looks like the most godly victims/casualties have it in them to still be concerned for the bad guys. “Gospel for victims” indeed! Acts 757 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him.Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell… Read more »

drewnchick
Member

Never minding the Victim, who, while He had done absolutely nothing wrong His whole life, was led like a lamb to the slaughter, was severely abused and tortured, and THEN…then He bore the weight and punishment of every sin of every one of His people.
And He said, “Father, forgive them…”

There seems to be a pretty stark example here, and it does NOT sound like the shrill cries of SJWs or the years-long teeny-bopper sulk-a-thons of angst-ridden emoti-mongers.

Laura
Guest
Laura

Following this to its logical conclusion, if we are oppressed we can never try to get better treatment for ourselves.

drewnchick
Member

I’m not sure you followed anything, for the logical conclusion of an example is to apply it to our own lives. Thus, if we are oppressed, we are to forgive the oppressor without calling for their heads, their jobs, or their reputations, and we are to stop whining about being oppressed.
Jesus, Stephen, Paul, Peter, (skipping ahead) Luther, Zwingli, Knox…these are great examples of virtuous living beneath the heavy hand of oppression. Most of the “victims” d’jour look nothing like them.

Laura
Guest
Laura

What one person calls soberly addressing their situation, another person may call whining.

There were several folks in the 1950s and 1960s who thought black folks who wanted to be served at restaurants were whining.

drewnchick
Member

Well, I suppose there are all sorts of labels to be tossed about by everyone with an opinion. This is why I gave Scriptural and historical examples. When we see people acting in a completely antithetical manner to Jesus, Stephen, Luther, Knox, et al, we should be reasonably correct to assume that they’re missing the mark. When modern “victims” are shrilly calling for people’s resignations on syndicated talk shows, I rather think they are good examples of whining, not soberly addressing the situation. And certainly nothing close to Jesus’ or Stephen’s examples. I would chance to say the Blacks of… Read more »

Laura
Guest
Laura

I would chance to say that it wasn’t the black folks who bore their oppression with dignity and silence who brought about change. Rosa Parks didn’t bear her oppression with silence.

insanitybytes22
Member

Amen to this post. Blame is one of the most disempowering things we can teach victims. It puts all of their healing in the hands of another person. There’s a huge difference between being the bug on someone’s windshield and being a victim. Once you become a victim you’ve taken on an identity completely defined by the harm that was done to you.

Rebecca
Guest
Rebecca

Context is key. Let’s assume a loved one of yours is asleep in his own bed, in a “safe” neighborhood, with doors and windows locked and secured, and someone breaks in and shoots him in his sleep. He barely survives — the traumatized victim of a violent crime. “No one is sinless,” I say. “I’m not ‘excusing, or advocating, or carrying water’ for the intruder who shot him. But the victim needs to repent also, and ‘the very nature of the operation excludes simultaneous accusations leveled against’ the shooter. The victim ‘can confess the sins of one who has wronged’… Read more »

adad0
Member

John 5 5 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals.2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.[4] 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”….. 8… Read more »

Rebecca
Guest
Rebecca

Context is key. And I prefer Jesus’ compassion over Douglas Wilson’s.

drewnchick
Member

But then, Wilson hasn’t stormed with braided whip in hand the local Starbucks set up inside the foyer of the First Church of La Lala, California, either. But I suppose your preference should be taken in context…

Rebecca
Guest
Rebecca

Nor has Wilson healed anyone on the Sabbath. Nor multiplied fishes and loaves. Nor healed the blind. Nor laid down his life for his friends. Nor raised anyone from the dead. I suppose we could cite examples all day long in which Wilson does not behave as Jesus did.

I should have made more clear that I was specifically responding to the passage “A” Dad cited, in contrast to any number of plausible interpretations and applications of Wilson’s post. Sorry for the unintended vagueness on my part.

adad0
Member

How are they different?

Rebecca
Guest
Rebecca

In the passage you quoted, Jesus brought healing first.

adad0
Member

How is their compassion different ?

Humans and Jesus are not on the same footing in the miricle department. I am not, are you? This is not for any lack of compassion. Jesus is the Lord of miracles, people are not.

Rebecca
Guest
Rebecca

I suppose the answer to the difference in compassion all depends on whether you believe hospital beds, metaphorical or otherwise, are a place for ministering healing and comfort — or a place for calling wounded trauma victims to repentance. Or whether you are more concerned about continuing Jesus’ mission to bind up the broken-hearted — or more concerned about calling the broken-hearted to repentance.

I guess it depends on when you thinking healing salve should be applied to wounds…or if it should be applied at all.

Leslie Lea
Guest
Leslie Lea

Good response!

adad0
Member

‘Bec, thanks for your considered response. Healing does come in many flavors, some of those flavors can be discipline and rebuke. Do note that in Hebrews 12:11-15 below, healing is a direct result of the godly discipline that this passage is about. Proverbs 27: 5-6 notes that proper rebuke can be an act of love and sometimes “kisses” can be an act of the enemy. One principle that is supported by Hebrews 12 is that “hard teaching makes soft hearts, soft teaching makes hard hearts”. To conclude, I think we both believe in godly soft compassion, I think most people… Read more »

Leslie Lea
Guest
Leslie Lea

I think the response would be different to a child than to an adult.

adad0
Member

L’, Hebrews 12:7-10, the preceeding verses to 11-15, below, are about fathers, children and discipline. Yes, adults and children take different kinds of discipline, it’s just that the godly compassion behind it is the same. Jesus, in Luke 13, below, sketches out that He would rather offer us comfort, and protection, like a Hen would to her chicks, but we would not have it. We can be tough kids, as adults or children. If we don’t take godly discipline, adult or child, we bring ungodly hardship on ourselves. Hebrews 12 7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as… Read more »

Leslie Lea
Guest
Leslie Lea

If I may ask, how old are you?

adad0
Member

Proverbs 13:24 If you love your children, you will correct them; if you don’t love them, you won’t correct them.

55, two great kids. And you?

Evan
Guest
Evan

Don’t forget this one: “1There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5No, I tell you; but unless you repent,… Read more »

drewnchick
Member

Or how about the guy born blind…when Jesus’ disciples asked him whether it was his sin or his parents’ sin that caused him to be born blind, Jesus replied, “Neither, he was born blind for this moment, so that I could heal him and display the glory of God in his life.” So, does that story cancel out the 18 crushed by the tower whom Jesus used as an example of perishing without repentance? No… It would behoove us all to remember that 1) God has mercy on whom He has mercy, and He hardens whom he hardens, 2) we… Read more »

Laura
Guest
Laura

Rebecca, I guess it matters whether Doug is talking about Yale and Mizzou and so forth, or about the wretched Greenfield case. If about the former, then the appropriate application to your story is, the man asleep in the bed absolutely isn’t at fault in what happened to him. But if he identifies, for instance, that his intruders, who traumatized him terribly, were black folks, and then he goes on to accuse black folks everywhere of being criminals, then he’s left the path. You direct your ire at the appropriate subject of it. The fact that you are entitled to… Read more »

Rebecca
Guest
Rebecca

A good writer would have made himself clear if his post only applied to some cases and not others. Since he wrote the words “sexual Justice” and “victims’ rights”, and spoke in generalities, it is presumptuous to assume that he had only one specific situation in mind.

Laura
Guest
Laura

If he is talking about Natalie … but I can’t believe it. She had those years of being raped, and those years of trying to recover from being raped, to examine with the most painful imaginable detail exactly what part she might ever have had in what happened to her. And is still apparently in a lot of pain from it, and might always be. I cannot believe that Doug is continuing, without any provocation, to bring up her situation so he can harp on how at 13 she must have colluded in her victimization. I think he must be… Read more »

Moscow Buddy
Guest
Moscow Buddy

There’s a name for what you’re doing, Laura. It’s called wishful thinking. You desperately want something not to be true, so you insist that it can’t be true, all evidence to the contrary be damned. As I said yesterday, Doug just threw that “racial reconciliation” nonsense in as a red herring, to bamboozle people into thinking that he was primarily writing about Missouri and Yale, when he wasn’t. He certainly fooled you. And from what I’ve seen, you’re not nearly as stupid as Jon Swerens. (No offense, Jon.)

Laura
Guest
Laura

I don’t desperately want it. I just try not to think evil of people.

Moscow Buddy
Guest
Moscow Buddy

There’s a name for what you’re doing, Laura. It’s called wishful thinking. You desperately want something not to be true, so you insist that it can’t be true, all evidence to the contrary be damned. As I said yesterday, Doug just threw that “racial reconciliation” nonsense in as a red herring, to bamboozle people into thinking that he was primarily writing about Missouri and Yale, when he wasn’t. He certainly fooled you. And from what I’ve seen, you’re not nearly as stupid as Jon Swerens. (No offense, Jon.)

RandMan
Guest
RandMan

Of course he is indirectly referencing the Greenfield case.

ashv
Guest
ashv

Amen. It strikes me that there are few positions so morally precarious as that of being offended on behalf of other people. There are indeed victims who need advocates to speak for them, but it’s far too easy to turn that into a means of personal sanctimony. (Which is perhaps one of the reasons that the penalty for being a false prophet was so harsh.)

Kelly M. Haggar
Guest
Kelly M. Haggar

Notice how common it is that people who start out working for justice become convinced they ARE justice. “They came to do good and ended up doing well.”

Laura
Guest
Laura

I tend to think that when a person, especially a very young person, sins, and the consequences are waaaayyy out of proportion to their momentary disobedience or whatever it is, and they are heartily sorry for it and wish like hell they’d never done it, it isn’t fair to keep on and on and on bringing up how they bear some responsibility. At what point can you put that aside and quit talking about it.