Neil de Koning
April 17, 2012
The proper Christian response is to never support or participate in bullying or putting down another person. But this is where I think there needs to be a dialogue. There needs to be a conversation about this topic. Hence, this is also a Christian response: http://www.dayofdialogue.com/
Too often, groups talk or shout over each other instead of listening and trying to understand one another. This is key.
Of course Christians should be against bullying. And, I appreciate the use of the Heidelberg Catechism to expand on this thought.
However, can we lay off the bullying/anti-bullying meme? I live in a small midwestern town and about once a week one of my grade school aged children comes home with a paper about bullying. Remember when kids could stand up for one another? Can't do that any more. In its place we put all the attention on bullying and the bullies. In our fame obsessed culture this backfires and creates larger than life characters whose behavior we abhor.
Bob: We should only lay off the conversation about bullying when 11 year olds stop hanging themselves in closets because they've been bullied to the point of not seeing hope. I am encouraged that your children's school is taking a persistent stand. In my experience as a youth worker and a bullied child, this sort of attention from teachers does not make bullies famous but shines light into dark corners.
Thanks for your contribution. I'd like to push back on this a little, and I'll do with a personal story. When I was a kid in elementary school, I was bullied. I had a speech impediment, was a new transfer, and was a girl who was friends with boys (which, in elementary school in Podunk, South Dakota, is a no-no). What made me feel more alone was the fact that teachers did not address it until I fought back against my bullies. I knocked one of them into the snow after school, and it was only then that my teachers did anything to address the issue.
If my teachers had created an environment that made me feel safe, that made it clear that what those kids were doing to me was wrong, my two years of hell would have been much, much shorter. Maybe your kids aren't getting anything out of the focus on bullying in the school, but I can assure you, there's a little girl or a little boy in their class who is. As Christians, we're called to be kind and good to "the least of these," and a kid being bullied (whether it is for the perception of homosexuality or not) is certainly in that category.
Todd, My point is not to make light of those who suffer from the torment of bullies. Shining a light on dark corners is one thing. Dedicating large amounts of time and energy on bullying, making it a first class "subject" to be taught in grade school goes over board.
When I was in school, in place of bullying it was drugs and sexual predators. Guess what? Those are still big topics at the school as well. Now we have bullying in the mix. How about we teach/preach about all of the social ills (as a result of sin) in grade school and make education on subjects such as reading, writing, math, science, etc. the thing that gets taught at home? Believe it or not, we're headed in that direction. That concerns me.
A related anecdote. My (4th grade) son got kicked out of summer school his first day there because he pushed a kid away and went to tell a teacher that the kid was trying to wrestle him to the ground and hurt him. The kid my son pushed is a known instigator. The solution? The school kicks both children out of summer school. Zero tolerance as a result to bully policies within the school system. That is what we were told. So my son defends himself in a proper manner (even the principal told us that he did the right thing!) and he gets punished for it. Why? Because we can't tolerate bullying and my son's actions may have been perceived as bullying or behavior that would encourage others to start bullying other kids. Meanwhile this same school system narrowly escaped being taken over by the state due to ridiculously low test scores. And this is a small midwestern public school system, not like the larger city school system I grew up in that was plagued by far worse and wider spread issues. Yikes!
From talking to my son and daughter and their friends about bullying, they don't feel safer. In fact, in place of safety they feel what I would describe as paranoia. They are constantly afraid that a bully is just around the corner, or just the opposite, they are afraid they are bullying someone by not playing with them at recess or choosing to hang with one person over another.
Also note that with the over emphasis on bullying there are policies created that make it difficult for a fellow classmate to stand up for someone who is a target of a bully. The intentions of the education on bullying is well meaning but the result too often leaves a lot to desire.
Instead of focusing on bullying and the other destructive, hurtful behaviors we should focus on the golden rule at school, and all its implications. And at home and church we as Christians should stress to our children the Gospel and use tools like the Heidelberg Catechism to help disciple them. Catechising may be a dirty word in evangelical Christian circles these days but I sure wish there was something like it done in the evangelical church I grew up in 20+ years ago. :)
I don't think there needs to be any dialogue on this issue.
Bullying is wrong, period. Hating, harassing, rejecting, ridiculing, assaulting, or ostracizing someone for being gay or lesbian is wrong, period. Those things are sinsâ€”and it is the Christian's job to resist sin and stand against it.
It is sadly in line with Focus on the Family's history that they call for "dialogue" on whether or not it's okay to be LGBT. One wonders if they're going to go on to encourage "dialogue" on whether or not it's okay to be short, or wear glasses, or be of a different ethnicity than the rest of someone's school, or be handicapped, or any of the other categories that are often the source material for bullies engaging in abuse and oppression.
As Christians, Focus should be unequivocal in standing with Christ on the side of the oppressed and bullied and telling their oppressors and bullies that anything but complete and unconditional love is absolutely unacceptable for any follower of the Author of complete and unconditional love, rather than enabling those who are oppressing and bullying through a transparently-deceptive appeal to "dialogue."
Let me preface this by saying that I'm against bullying of any kind at any age. I, myself, was bullied in the 4th and 5th grades when I was a kid and I know the harsh emotions that come with it.
Having said that, we should NOT be supporting an organization like GLSEN. This only furthers the social idea that being Gay or Lesbian is just as normal as being "straight." R.C. Sproul contends that there is no such thing as a "homosexual", only those people who Practice homosexual behavior - and I agree with him. Homosexual behavior is identified as sin multiple times throughout the old and new testaments. It is disobedience to God's design and intention for our lives, therefore it is a sin, and it is NOT "normal." By supporting any effort by GLSEN, we are indirectly condoning and accepting homosexual behavior.
If we are to support anti-bullying campaigns, let's do so while NOT compromising the doctrine set forth in God's infallible Word.
The fact that GLSEN included "Straight" in their name should be a warning sign to all Christians that they are trying to hide their true agenda by including those who believe sexual relations are to be between a man and a woman. God defined clear roles for both men and women in the Bible; gender identity is a misnomer...if a person has male genitals, he is a man...if a person has female genitals, she is a female - end of discussion. We are all engineered by the Great Engineer to fulfill our role in society as designed. If you take the Form, Fit, and Function approach, you can clearly see that homosexual behavior is NOT "normal."
Only a nut and a bolt can hold something together. Two bolts or two nuts only fall apart. The foundation of society is the family unit, which relies on a marriage between a man and a woman. We will continue to fall apart as a society if Christians start or continue showing acceptance of homosexual behavior.
"Having said that, we should NOT be supporting an organization like GLSEN. This only furthers the social idea that being Gay or Lesbian is just as normal as being 'straight.'"
Regardless of your chosen interpretation of the Bible, from the perspective of our public school system, being LGBT should be viewed as just as valid an identity as being cis/hetero. Unless you think public schools should be enforcing your particular religious views...
"R.C. Sproul contends that there is no such thing as a "homosexual", only those people who Practice homosexual behavior - and I agree with him."
That's nice. So I assume you'd say you're not straight; you only practice heterosexual behavior. At any moment, you might choose to switch and be sexually attracted to members of the same sex, and start having sex with them... right?
"The fact that GLSEN included "Straight" in their name should be a warning sign to all Christians that they are trying to hide their true agenda by including those who believe sexual relations are to be between a man and a woman."
Why is it assumed that all "straights" have the same religious views as you do? I'm quite heterosexual, and I don't believe that sexual relations "are to be" between a man and a woman as some kind of essential quality of all humanity. For me personally, they're to be between me and a woman, but that's my orientation, not everyone's.
"We are all engineered by the Great Engineer to fulfill our role in society as designed."
The same argument was used for slavery, for denying women the right to own property, vote, or get equal pay for equal work, for denying the right to interracial marriage, and for denying the right of people of all genders, races and creeds to be equal under the law. Please tell me how your "argument from design" differs from those in the past who suggested that the Great Engineer designed those social structures we now (rightly) find abhorrent.
"Only a nut and a bolt can hold something together. Two bolts or two nuts only fall apart."
The Home Depot argument, really? I could come up with metaphors from hardware that could justify never mating, or three-way or four-way arrangements, or virtually any other configuration you could possibly conceive of. That's not evidence against LGBT equalityâ€”that's aisle 7 between the door hinges and the pneumatic staple guns.
Indeed, bullying on the basis of sexual orientation is always wrong. We need more dialogue, less diatribe. The persecution Christians have endured (and continue to endure today) should make us advocates for the weak, isolated, and vulnerable.
The focus on bullying is something of a distraction. At least in the high school where I coach. The kids who will participate will be the gays and kids from same-sex households, but also their straight friends. Day of Silence is less about bullying than about solidarity and standing with your friends. I would think that is where Christian reflection might best begin.
It starts with presence. After all, you really cannot do anything until you're there with them, alongside them. In the halls. And if we aren't already in the school (and many Reformed Christians are not) then any response on Day of Silence will be at arm's length. It will seem contrived.
And then there is hospitality. Day of Silence is an invitation to create a welcoming space. The t-shirt and duct tape will be an act of identity, a force of gaze. As such it is clearly political (i.e. "some folks don't like us. tough."), and also has that edge of dare: do you, will you accept me? For me, the question will be how do I accept this gift of self-identification?
I think what I will reflect on most will be how these are kids who are deeply, deeply loved.
Bullying is wrong, yes. But sharing the truth of Scripture, that those who practice homosexuality are sinning and in danger of God's judgment, is not bullying. In fact, telling a sinner that they are in danger of God's judgment and that Christ is their only rescue is one of the most loving things one could do.
As Christians, we must preach the gospel. That is the church's mission. The outside world might perceive this as "bullying" but our goal here is to think Christianly, right? And Christianly speaking, preaching truth is not bullying. It is profoundly loving. Christ is our example in that way. If preaching against sin is bullying, he is the foremost example. (Though, it is fair to say that some of us need to work on our delivery.)
I don't understand why any Christians could ever support bullying. We don't need to bully!
We can love everyone and the Holy Spirit can use our witness to speak. It's all His work, after all. Isn't it? And isn't humility a way to grow closer to God?
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