A few weeks ago I wrote about how we often confuse or pervert Christian relational postures and character traits. I noted that self-loathing is often regarded as humility.
There are many other examples of this, I’m sure, but one that has occupied my mind for some time now is how passive-aggression or self-pity is mistaken for cruciformity.
It seems to me that upon first encountering the notion of cruciformity (having one’s life shaped by the cross), many people assume that it refers to relational postures of passivity. If someone mistreats you, you’re supposed to “just suck it up.” If someone insults you or hurts you, you need to “just take it.”
Such responses to provocation are not embodiments of cruciformity, but are precisely the sort of passive reactions that fuel passive-aggression, a self-regard and posture toward others that is both very ugly and utterly pervasive in American middle-class culture.
In my opinion, it’s among the most common relational dynamics of suburban, middle-class churches in America.
It’s a bit slippery to get hold of, so I want to take a few days to articulate things carefully. If you know of any good resources or web-sites with careful or thoughtful analyses of passive-aggression, please point me to them. Or, if you’ve discovered hopeful ways beyond passive-aggression through your own reflection, I’d love to hear about it.