May 3, 2021 in 

Surviving the Knee on the Neck

Some bear an unhealed wound from childhood bullying. The knee on the neck is an ideal metaphor for understanding their pain.

Deandria Shaw


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The world was paralyzed by disbelief as they watched video footage of the inhumane treatment of handcuffed George Floyd by a corrupt officer of the law. George Floyd’s death contributes to the mountain of evidence that reveals how deeply entrenched systemic racism is in America. The knee on the neck of George Floyd is also a metaphor for bullying. Bullying has many guises: prejudicial, relational, and cyber, etc. Many targets of bullying have felt the penetrating crush of the knee on the neck and wondered during that punctuated period of unparalleled suffering if they would survive it. The knee on the neck represents the bully’s attempt to break the will of the target and silence them. Whether on the playground or in the boardroom, America has a habit of deprioritizing bullying. But when cries go unheard from targets who have been dehumanized in institutions, there is a problem in America. When children, full of potential, commit suicide because of cyberbullying we're at a crisis point in America. America can no longer neglect the increasing rate of bullying.  Today, some anti-bullying advocates want it classified as a criminal offense. But as believers, we find comfort in knowing that  God “…. executeth judgment for the oppressed: …” (Psalm 146:7). He fights for those individuals and his justice reigns supreme. Some are called to be a voice for the oppressed. This article will examine the spirituality of bullying and discuss ways to survive the metaphorical knee on the neck.

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Deandria Shaw


  • 12 Publications
  • 228 found this helpful

Spiritual Conditions of the Heart

Have you ever wondered what makes a bully continue to pursue an evil course despite God’s warnings?  The Bible addresses two dangerous spiritual conditions: spiritual blindness and a reprobate mind. Both states involve a person willfully hardening their heart towards God’s love. A person who has spiritual blindness rejects God and cannot understand scriptural truths (2 Corinthians 4:4). When an individual rejects truth and love, then rationalizes any misdeeds their heart is becoming hardened. In essence, their pride becomes a stumbling block. But God can turn a heart of stone into a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26).  However, a person with a reprobate mind does not know the difference between right and wrong. They have permanently chosen corruption and selfishness. The Bible cautions everyone in Isaiah 5:20, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil....” because this also a sign of a hardened heart.  Individuals with reprobate minds have hardened their hearts and refuse to yield to the love of God. But they have intentionally reached a point of no return. It is a far worse spiritual condition. Yet, because of God’s grace and love, no one is lost without putting forth a lot of effort.

Allegory of the Hardened Heart

Imagine a queue of people. They have chains on their necks and they gradually descend into the bowels of a dark, underground,  silo-like structure. Black (contaminated) rain falls. Water has accumulated at the bottom of the structure’s stairs. Although they can choose to ascend, they willfully continue their descent! That is how humans harden their hearts against the light of God’s love.

Beware of Deceptions

We live in a culture of bullying. Some bullies are extremely artful in deception. Christians must daily put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-24). Within Christian communities, we have these people, too. The scriptures say, "They profess that they know God, but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and to every good work reprobate" (Titus 1:16). When a heart becomes hardened they may use various techniques to veil their misdeeds and true intentions:

  • Recast their misdeeds as justifiable (misguidance or ignorance). 
  • Play the victim to gain sympathy or attention. “What about me?
  • Blame others or their past for their misdeeds.
  • Twist the Truth.    
  • Divert attention away from the situation without accountability. “Let’s move on…”
  • Pretend to favor those like the target to cover prejudices.
  • Argue that the target is really at war with them or somehow mistreating them. 
  • Destroy the humanity of the target so that bullying becomes acceptable by others.
  • Pretend to halt or change their behavior when exposed.
  • Change the narrative by denying the existence of the situation.

But God deeply loves everyone. In Isaiah 54:8, The Lord says to all of us “In a little wrath I hid my face, for a moment,  but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee…” All God asks us to do is accept his love and the sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ.

Pray for Peace

Pray for God’s love and peace when you are under assault. Most bullies are empowered by anger, hate, or jealousy. When we forgive others and trust in God, it gives us peace. Sometimes he calls us to build a bridge even after being mistreated. It may be in the form of restoring trust or a friendship. Below are some verses to consider.

  • “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9 ).
  • “If possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18).
  • “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isaiah 26:3).

Let God Fight For You

Remember the story of Job? He suffered considerably but the enemy was only allowed to go so far. After his trial, he was fully restored. God is still in control when we are under assault by the enemy. He shields us from those fiery darts. Consider these scriptures.

  • “I  will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, so shall I be saved from my enemies” (Psalm 18:3).
  • “And they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee.” (Jeremiah 1:19).
  • “One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the LORD your God, he it is that fighteth for you, as he hath promised you” (Joshua 23:10).
  • ”Behold all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded...” ” (Isaiah 41:11). 

Renew Your Mind

Although bullying is painful, Christians should continue to pray for a Godly attitude. Sometimes it is easy to succumb to resentment, anger, or victimization. And initially, it is a challenge to pray for those who mistreat you. But remember we are not struggling against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12). Ask God to deepen your love, restore your joy and control your emotions. Reflect on these truths.

  • “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). 
  • “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:18).
  • “...Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, bless them that curse you, pray for them which despitefully use you.”(Luke 6:27-28).
  • “Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God; but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.”(3 John 1:11). 
  • “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him” (I John 3:15).

In Conclusion, The knee on the neck is an ideal metaphor for bullying because both are dehumanizing behaviors. Bullies often take pleasure in seeing others suffer. But in Proverbs, they are warned “He who rejoices at calamity will not go unpunished” (Proverbs 17:5).  As Christians, we are encouraged to be fearless and courageous when we are oppressed because God is with us. He will never forsake us! We should be saddened to see others harden their hearts but rejoice when they find truth (I Corinthians 13:6). Christ lovingly asked his Father to forgive those who had dehumanized him. Pray that the warmth of God’s love penetrates your enemy’s heart and leads them to the peace of repentance.



Hendrickson Publishers. (2014). The Holy Bible: King James version.

Suggested Reading

Reed-Shaw, D. (2021, February 7). Workplace Abuse. WikiExpert.

Reed-Shaw, D. D. (2021, February 7). Workplace Mobs and Leaders. WikiExpert.



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