"Walk on Me"
Q. "Doormat theology" isn't my idea of how a Christian should behave. I was taught to stand up for my rights and fight against evil. That means not letting the school district teach homosexuality to my child or letting the car dealer swindle us out of money. There's nothing virtuous about pursuing peace at the expense of giving up high standards.
Pioneer Spirit in America
Thank you - your feelings are shared by many people. So it's a good time for all of us to explore this. We live in a country where aggression and a "pioneer" spirit are valued. We have learned to fight for our rights and to boldly stand up for the Constitution or for the democratic American way of life, for example. This is a pervasive, deeply entrenched mind-set or worldview in our culture.
Fighting our way into the Promised Land
If we were to put this in biblical terms the ideal American way of life might be likened to the Old Testament stories of Joshua entering the Promised Land and fighting against the immoral, evil cultures existing at that time.
In contrast, the teachings of Jesus suggest we turn the other cheek, bless and love our enemies, and forgive others including our worst enemies. So we theorize that this humble mind-set must apply to someone else - not to American Christians.
Yet, in his letter to the Hebrews the apostle Paul tells us that "after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things through whom also He made the world…" (Hebrews 1:1-2, NASB).
So while the Old Testament serves as good examples for us, we really need to listen to God as He spoke to us through Jesus His Son.
Is the Bible our Authority?
Let's start with a shared foundation or premise. Is the Bible authoritative for your life? Is it really the Word of God? Should we follow what the Scriptures say regarding daily problems we all encounter in our lives? Or is it an ancient, dusty relic better left to those who lived 2,000 years ago? Are its viewpoints irrelevant and outdated?
Can we Trust the Bible?
If you decide that the Bible is not your standard or authority for daily living then you need to address that issue and not worry about "doormat theology." You need to study reasons why we can trust the Bible for personal guidance in every area of our lives.
66 Books - 40 Authors - 1600 Years
Let's remember that "although the Bible consists of sixty-six separate books penned by over forty authors over a period of several thousand years, it is an integrated message system."
So it is our job to study why we believe this church doctrine to be true. That takes work and diligence on your part. It takes a willingness to read and listen to why the Bible's authorship can be proved to exist outside of our dimensions of space and time - why we make the claim it is of "extraterrestrial origin" (Missler 2002, 1).
Who is He?
Finally, we must come to grips with who Jesus is. If He is God then we must hear what He says to us, listen carefully and do what He says.
John 1:1 says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (NASB).
John 10:30 says "I and the Father are one."
Nothing is plainer, simpler, or clearer than that. God speaks to us through Jesus Christ.
So what should we do with the so-called "doormat doctrines" that Jesus preached and that fill the New Testament? For many American Christians these are distasteful, loser's games that make for wimpy people giving in to hostile, bossy people and situations.
Yet, I think we need to listen to what the Bible says, heed what it says about how we should learn to deal with unpleasant things, and begin to change our "pioneer spirits" and aggressive behaviors. Don't you?
Eat the Word
But, that won't come about just because we tell you something or encourage you to act more humbly. It will come about because you have meditated upon Scripture and allowed it to become a part of you. We all need to "eat" God's Word and digest it thoroughly, allowing it to nourish and sustain our souls.
"Your words were found
and I ate them,
And Your words became
for me a joy and the
delight of my heart."
It is written, 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that procedes out of the mouth of God'" (Matthew 4:6).
Perhaps we could start by changing the wording of "doormat doctrines" to "Christ like living." Paul tells us that "those whom He foreknew He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son" (Romans 8:29).
No Courage to Confronting
Becoming "conformed" to Christ is a painful process. It takes determination and courage. There is nothing "wimpy" about being persecuted and not striking back. Refusing to talk back or remaining silent when insulted takes more self-control than "ripping" someone in response to a perceived slight.
There is no "courage" in confrontation - instead, it is much easier to give in to the "deeds of the flesh" and indulge in such things as strife, arguing to prove one is "right," outbursts of anger, causing disputes and so forth (Galatians 5:20).
But in contrast, the Bible tells us we need to learn to "be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit - not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead - for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing" (1 Peter 3:8-9, NASB).
Did you catch that?
"Give a blessing" so that you might "inherit a blessing."
Does that mean we are rewarded for not fighting back? For turning the other cheek and blessing our enemies?
Think about it…
That doesn't mean we should never take a stand against evil. "Righteous anger" or "righteous indignation" means we may join larger causes to defend God's holiness or to fight injustices in our world - things like abuse of women and children, poverty, hunger, caring for those who are weak and other crimes against humanity.
But, it does mean we must learn to humbly accept personal injustices, insults and suffering. Personal vendettas and striking back are not the Christian way. We are told not to do that. Let's look at this a little more closely:
Submissive Blue-Collar Workers
Here is a situation close to home: God's Word tells us that we are to be "submissive" to mean, cruel employers. Where does it say that? Well, during first-century Roman times the majority of employers owned slaves. In fact, being a slave was common, everyday blue-collar work.
Peter advised blue-collar workers,
"be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God" (1 Peter 2:18-20, NASB).
"Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler - but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name. For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God"… (1 Peter 4:15-16).
A Calling to Suffer
Finally, Peter says we have even been "called" to suffer, "since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps" (1 Peter 2:21).
The Bible tells us that "while being reviled, He (Christ) did not revile in return. While suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously" (1 Peter 2:22).
Going for the Gold
We know this goes "against the grain" and is offensive to many. We all struggle against the idea of being "pushovers" in American society.
But, true courage and godly living dictates that,
"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, NASB).
There is true honor in suffering for what is right.
Benware, Paul N. 2002. The believer's payday. Chattanooga, TN: AMG.
Missler, Chuck. 2002. Learn the Bible in 24 hours. Nashville: TN: Nelson.
Penner, Glenn M. 2004. In the shadow of the cross. Bartlesville, OK: Living Sacrifice Books.
Ton, Josef. 2000. Suffering, martyrdom, and rewards in heaven. Wheaton, ILL: Romanian Missionary Society.
Authors Ken Emilio holds an M.A. in Biblical Studies from Louisiana Baptist University. Valorie received her M.A. in History from UCLA focusing on early church history.