Grievance Mentality

When conflicts occur, sociologists Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning observe in an insightful new scholarly paper, aggrieved parties can respond in any number of ways. In honor cultures like the Wild West or the street gangs of West Side Story, they might engage in a duel or gun fight. In dignity cultures, like the ones that prevailed in Western countries during the 19th and 20th Centuries, “insults might provoke offense, but they no longer have the same importance as a way of establishing or destroying a reputation for bravery,” they write. “When intolerable conflicts do arise, dignity cultures prescribe direct but non-violent actions.”

These affronts, offenses, are called grievances and they develop into grievance mentalities or identities. A grievance is a wrong considered as grounds for complaint, or something believed to cause distress. A grievance becomes a mentality when a person, a culture, or a society begins to function out of that perceived grievance. In the history of Civil Rights, the politics of difference (African-American scholar Shelby Steele’s term) led to an establishment of “grievance identities.” By the 1980s the African-American community gained identity according to grievances committed by the dominant group. They sought to document the grievances of their group, testifying to its abiding alienation. African-American and whites alike were punished for not recognizing and accepting this litany of grievances. They lost their way.

Christians have been taking offenses and participating in grievance mentalities for centuries. Peter, in Acts 10, is threatened by the notion that alien Gentiles, in wholesale fashion, would be welcomed into the Kingdom of God. Peter reached for his Teddy Bear and looked for a safe place in law driven, exclusive Judaism. It would not happen. Paul reminded his friend Peter that all were outcasts, all were saved by grace through faith. Peter would be wise to get onboard.

And so should we, homeschoolers. We live in a threatening, debilitating culture that is opposed to what we believe and know to be true. We celebrate the life of an unborn child; our nation murders him/her. We embrace biblical marriage; our nation legislates that biblical marriage is only one choice. And so forth. In 2017 we are in danger of embracing a grievance mentality.

To do that will subvert the movement. If Peter’s views would have been adopted, the Church would have become a declining sect, disappearing in one generation. The African-American reform movement, after such a propitious start, to a large degree, has become a petty, parochial, ignoble reflection of existential liberalism.

Homeschoolers we do not have to become like the pagan to share Christ with the pagan—we merely need to remain true to ourselves, to our core values, to our God. Peter had nothing to fear from the Gentiles. God had everything under control. We have nothing to fear from secular America or the secular university. We serve an awesome, powerful God!

I understand and I celebrate the veritable stampede of capable evangelical homeschoolers into the 10-20 most competitive universities in the USA. Never in the history of academia has a cultural group—Christian homeschoolers—been so vigorously recruited and lavishly rewarded. God’s favor is truly on this homeschooled generation of youth.

So what do we fear? Whom do we fear? Only God and we reverence and love Him because He loved us first and sent his only Begotten Son to be our savior.

Finally, in the 40 years since I matriculated out of Harvard University I have watched my classmates assume the most powerful positions in the world. This I have learned: failure and success is not measured by accumulated wealth or human accolades—no what really matters is what God thinks. The most grievous indictment of my generation was that we learned much knowledge and we applied it to our life situations. Somewhere along the line, however, we lost our passion. We forgot who we were and Who He is. We need to raise this generation to be madly in love with Christ. We need to get them to take their eyes off the problems and look to the solution to these problems! You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world (1 John 4:4).

One Response to “Grievance Mentality”

  1. Beth Hill says:

    Hi Jim,

    This is just what I needed as I sign up to volunteer with our church’s youth for another school year. Thank you so much for the encouragement to let our passion be Christ and Christ alone!

    Because of God’s favor,