Sunday, October 17, 2010

 

Sunday Reflection: Sometimes, the Rest of Us Get Better, Too-- Gays, Lesbians, Bullies, and God


In the wake of the suicides of gay teenagers, there has been a new project called It Gets Better, which tells the stories of gay and lesbian teenagers who have a story of hope-- one in which things get better.

That's not my story. I am straight, and never faced the teasing, the bullying, or the violence gay and lesbian kids did and do. In fact, I was a bigot. I don't specifically remember being a bully to anyone, but I may well have been, given my attitude towards gays when I was young. At the very least, I know that I did not do anything to stop others from teasing or bullying, and in that way was complicit in what happened.

Why would I do that?

In short, as a kid I thought that gays and lesbians were "weird" and even deviants. My bigotry was consistent with what the culture, the church, and my friends thought and said, and was not countered by those who knew better.

I was one of those guys who described certain clothes or things as "gay," and it was not a positive description.

But... I got better. Not perfect (I am still a work in progress), but better.

What changed? That is simple-- a handful of brave men and women changed me, people who were willing to challenge my bigotry through leadership, friendship, and warmth.

The first person who did this has no idea who I am, and has never met me. His name is George Greenia, and he is a professor of Hispanic Studies at William and Mary. While I did get a great education, when I was there (1981-1985) William and Mary was much like Baylor is now-- a place that was generally homophobic, an attitude which was maintained largely through a complete lack of public discussion of anything remotely related to the topic of homosexuality.

That changed because of Prof. Greenia. He, very publicly, began a support group on campus for gays and lesbians. It was a brave, bold, and risky thing to do in Williamsburg, which is essentially a small, conservative southern town. I never went to the support group, but that bold move began to change the way I thought. It was the first time that I had been part of a culture that in any way whatsoever reflected a positive view of gays and lesbians. I began to re-examine my beliefs, and to realize I had been wrong.

That process continued in law school. There, I had three friends who were gay, and who were out. I didn't become friends with them because they were gay, or probably even realize it until after the friendship had been formed. Here is the key thing, though-- at the time they met me, this man and two women must have realized that I was a bigot, and they befriended me anyway. There is something extraordinary and wonderful in that, and I am still grateful to them. The experience changed me in some specific ways. I stopped thinking about gays and lesbians as sinners or deviants, and began to think of them as people, complex people, diverse people, who were in the mix of this fascinating, wonderful life we all share.

Christ did not command me to go out into the world and judge sinners, change people, or separate some people from others. His command was to love. Are gays and lesbians sinners? It doesn't seem that way to me (apart from the way in which we are all sinners), but at some level I don't care and have not carefully evaluated this-- if it is a sin, it is not my sin, and the sin I need to discern, identify and root out is my own. One of those sins has been bigotry and senseless hurt, and I atone for that now, and here.

Readers-- don't leave me hanging here. Please comment with support, or revulsion, or your own thoughts. I dearly want a real discussion about this, and hope you will join me in it.

Comments:
George is a friend and fellow medievalist for whom I have a great respect. I am so glad that he influenced your life in a positive way. He has always been the example of a scholar and man that I would like to be. And he's brave too.
 
Inasmuch as my Church has been in the news lately about this issue, I might as well offer my thoughts.

First, gays, lesbians, and transgendered individuals are not sinners merely because they are attracted to members of the same sex. We all have challenges and diverse temptations. Even Jesus was tempted in all things.

Second, they are children of a loving God who wants them to be happy. Because they are children of God, they have eternal worth. He loves them as much as His straight children.

Third, bullying and persecution are never justified because someone is different. All people deserve respect and are entitled to live and believe as they choose, provided that their actions do not harm others.

Fourth, God has established laws and commandments, including those that govern marriage and sexual morality. In my search of the scriptures, I can find no support for homosexual, sexual relationships. I find no ambiguity. Relevant scriptures include Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, Romans 1:27, 1 Corinthians 6:9, 1 Timothy 1:10, Jude 1:7.

Finally, all sexual relations must be had within the bounds set by the Lord. That is, sexual relations are only acceptable to the Lord when they are engaged in between a man and a woman who are lawfully wedded as husband and wife.

Here is a link that summarizes my beliefs on family and sexuality:

http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?locale=0&sourceId=1aba862384d20110VgnVCM100000176f620a____&vgnextoid=e1fa5f74db46c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD

Here is a recent discourse about morality:

http://lds.org/conference/talk/display/0,5232,23-1-1298-23,00.html
 
I just realized that I included transgendered individuals in this discussion. I understand that they may or may not be attracted to members of the same sex. Their situation is different. But my comments are applicable to them as well.

I believe that gender is an eternal characteristic. Boys have always been and always be boys. Girls have always been and will always be girls.

Having the desire to be a member of the opposite sex is not a sin. Actually becoming a member of the opposite sex is.
 
This is really nice, Mark, and a discussion that absolutely needs to occur.

People obviously have a right to their faiths, but it is delusional to think that there is not a connection between dominant faiths (and their tired litany of rationalizations for their contempt), popular (and dated) conceptions of gender roles and the casual reinforcement of exclusion, shaming, and emotional neglect of GLBT folks.

In this day and age, with what we know, anyone who stands silent, or worse participates, when terms like gay are used as a slur are complicit, whether they care to be or not, in the process of keeping GLBT folks locked in the closet where the cycle of fear and shame erodes their happiness, security, and health in many cases.

Somehow this is not the case with the many adulterers, liars, cheats, and blasphemers who are able to freely rejoin society even though their sins were both avoidable and far from victimless.

It may get better, but it will only really improve substantially when fathers like us stop allowing our children to tie gay youth to the societal whipping post.
 
The more things change, the more they stay the same.

I have attended three different schools over the course of my life: an elementary school with an almost entirely conservative Christian student body (just because they were in elementary school didn't mean that they didn't have political views - it just meant that they said whatever they thought that their parents said, and they often caught the wrong parts of the conversation), a middle school with a rather liberal leaning, and my current high school, which is about as politically moderate as it can be.

Going to elementary school in the mid-2000's, I didn't even know what "gay" meant. All I knew was that whenever we were reading an old book or something and someone who was happy was called gay, all the boys, including me, were pretty much legally obliged to burst out laughing. Even as I figured out that "gay" actually just meant someone who likes people of their own gender, I thought that it was perfectly alright to use it in place of the word "idiot" or "stupid". It wasn't that I was trying to harm the feelings of some people, it was because it was all I knew.

By middle school, things had (thankfully) changed quite a bit. Last year, there were at least three openly gay people in my grade, and I didn't really care. If somebody said that they were gay, the general attitude was a shrug of the shoulders. I don't think that I bullied anyone for being gay - except for one horrible time.

Last year, one of my best friends (who I also was in love with and eventually dated) played flute in the school band. She struck up a friendship with the other flute player (this was a small school), and, eventually, they decided to go see a movie together. I think that it was Clash of the Titans or some other low-grade movie, but that doesn't really matter.

After she told us at lunch one day, we all just sort of collectively shrugged. About ten minutes in, though, one of my friends literally jumped up from his seat. His eyes were wide. He sat back down and whispered to my friend in a frantic voice - you can't go to a movie with her! She's a lesbian!

We all realized that this was true. She had "come out" last year as bisexual, and, like I said, there was a collective shrug of shoulders. However, my other friends were frantically explaining this to my flute-playing friend, and she didn't seem to care much.

[part 2 below]
 
I'm embarrassed to say that I joined in. As I said, I was in love with this girl, and I was most worried about her going out with some other guy, but a new horror sprang to my mind - what if she's gay? She was a very liberal hyper-environmentalist atheist. To my mind, indoctrinated by six years of elementary school, gay wasn't far from that stereotype.

Eventually, there was a "scheduling conflict" and they couldn't go see the movie. They remained friends, but their friendship was probably not as good as it could have been.

I still feel horrible about doing that.

I've tried to not be one of the people who actively bullies gay people just for being gay, but, as I just related, I have, sadly, bullied them, inadvertently, for other reasons.

Jesus said that the two greatest commandments were to love your God with all your heart and all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself. James, Jesus' brother, said that faith without works is dead. If loving God is pure faith, then we also need to do works in the world by loving our neighbor.

I'm straight, so I really don't care whether homosexuality is a sin or not. Jesus never said that it was (the only passages that can be read as condemning it are from the Old Testament and the collection of letters at the end of the New Testament). Does it really matter anyway? God loves all his children, and he has commanded us to do the same.

If we, as Christians, are asked to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and visit those in prison, shouldn't it just be a ground rule to be nice to people who are different than us?
 
This is ironic for me today because I just talked to my sister about this yesterday. It seems like, as Christians, we try so desperately to root out "homosexuality" without ever embracing the person. I went to a Catholic high school, and while we were taught that the act, the sexual expression itself, was wrong, the people were important and deserved to be treated with dignity and respect. My teacher even made sure we said "the person who is homosexual or has homosexual tendencies" to remind ourselves that we must see the person first. Sadly, at 17, most kids don't listen and I don't think it stuck.
But, there is so much sin in the world, it seems bold of us to think of one sin as greater than the other. For that matter, even if we do believe the act is a sin, then what good do we do by holding back our love for these people? Abortion, divorce, extra-marital sexual relations are hardly addressed anymore, but we attack people who are homosexual. Real Christians operate through love; they forgive. And, if we ever really desire to change a person or an attitude, it is not done through force. Jesus didn't gain power and then command people not to do things. He loved first; he spoke with love; he radiated love in such a way that you wanted to do his will which he gave out of love. Love first.
 
If the Christian Bible is your compass for morality, then they compel not only tolerance, but acceptance. The greatest of everything in the Christian Bible is love. It is not a commandment that can be historically contextualized, as the cultural legalisms of the Hebrew Bible can. It is not a commandment that acknowledges exceptions. It is the commandment that replaces and embodies all commandments.

We, who grew up Christians and call ourselves Christians, know how this works. We forgive and tolerate and accept and let our minds be opened in most of the ways that love calls us to. We count among our friends, right now, people that earlier Christians would have condemned in the name of faith, because we see, now, that love cannot be demeaned. We are late to take up this calling. But we must do it.
 
I was raised, in part, by a gay uncle and his partner. I was terrified when I saw the link to your blog on Facebook today. It gets so exhausting to defend your family every day, in every arena, even for an adult. I was so happy to read what you said, if only because I realized I wasn't being asked to defend myself or my upbringing.

Thanks for your kind words. e.e. cummings wrote "it takes courage to grow up and become who you really are." I like who you've grown up to be.
 
I haven't seen it said here yet so I'm gonna go ahead and throw it out there: homosexuality is not a choice for most people. They did not choose to be gay any more than you chose to be straight. Disliking or discriminating against someone on the basis of their sexuality is no different than discriminating against them because of how tall they are.

But here's the corollary: even if it is a choice, so what? How is a man's choice to be gay any different than another person's choice to be a Christian? Framing the debate as "choice/not a choice" is a red herring, because even if it is a choice, that doesn't make it ok to discriminate against it.

Here's a question for the religious: why is homosexuality a bad thing? I get that God says it's wrong, but what about it makes it inherently wrong? Even if it's a choice, how is a man choosing to be attracted to other men inherently wrong? I say this because I hear "love the sinner, hate the sin" thrown around a lot, yet "hating" the sin seems pretty stupid when the sin doesn't actually harm anybody.
 
Craig, since when is it a legitimate choice to let allegedly celebate old men in dresses (cassocks - speeking of crossdressers!) decide who is or isn't a sinner? And if you accept the passages quoted as the true way to think, why are you not out stoning adulterers? Or many other alleged "sinners". Seems like you, as do so many others, pick and choose the verses you wish to follow.

Since the choice of sexuality is biological, not volitional, seems that the view that gays are sinners is a classic example of god making a mistake, and then punishing the poor victims for following their god-given urges! Logical, no?

I can conceive of no rational reason to punish, bully, label, etc. two consenting adults for loving one another. I have many close friends who are gay, straight, lesbian, etc. and I find their sexuality to be irrelevant to their worth as humans.

I too was brought up in a narrow minded, parochial faith, and have been fortunate enough to outgrow the need or desire for any such belief system.

I guess the best illustration I can use is this:

I had a gay housekeeper (one of the best I ever ad) who used to babysit sometimes for my children. My grandmother was appalled - "Don't you know he'll molest the boys?!!"

I said "He prefers men, right?"

"Yes!"

"You prefer men, right?"

"Of course I do! I'm not a pervert!"

"Fine - when do you plan to molest the boys?"

Much sputtering later, she shut up and never mentioned the subject again.

Lee
 
I was a product of my upbringing through high school. I did a lot of mostly unintentionally homophobic things, like saying "that's gay" when I didn't like something, or using homophobic slurs as insults.

This was all despite the friendship I enjoyed from several homosexual or bisexual people I knew.

In college that changed. Now suddenly I had gay in-laws and lots of out friends and participated in school events with queer folk, and I felt so guilty. One of my friend from high school came out, and I realized I wasn't always good to her. I didn't make it better for her. A guy I knew and thought was probably gay came out too, and I realized I never stood up for him when he was bullied. I'm sorry for that, and I hope some day I see him so I can apologize for what I did and didn't do.

If it's going to get better, all of us have to stop it, together. Its all our problem.
 
"I too was brought up in a narrow minded, parochial faith, and have been fortunate enough to outgrow the need or desire for any such belief system."

That is the kind of open minded debate I bet Osler was looking for! It will never cease to amaze me how often in the middle of a rant about how Christianity is bad because it isn't accepting of homosexuals that the ranter reveals their true venom for Christians. "You shouldn't harass homosexuals, oh, and you're a moron for believing in God stupid."

Most of you have described things you did as children harassing other children or just using gay slurs. How is this any different than making fun of the fat kid. Making fun of the kid wearing glasses. Making fun of the girl wearing braces. Kids are mean. They are mean because they are still learning what is appropriate and what is not. Some kids never learn this, and they grow up to be genuinely bigoted, and we should try to stop that from happening. But most kids grow out of it, and based on all the stories here all of us have since apparently we have grown up into the most tolerant group ever, congratulations us (except for Lee who thinks Christians are stupid)! We stop making fun of those that are different than us purely because of their differences and we start making fun of them because they like the Kings of Leon, which is totally justified!

Gay kids get bullied. So does almost every other kid. Poor kids who don't have the newest clothes and shoes. Fat kids. Dorks. Nerds. Arty kids. Goth kids. Band kids. Ugly kids. Kids who have a parent in jail. The list could go on forever.

My point being that I think we tend to dramatize the homosexual narrative because it is a much more attractive cause than "It Gets Better Fatty just eat another Burger" or "Someday the Tuba will be Cool." Teachers should stop all bullying to the best of their ability.

Unpopular opinion completed.
 
Lee,

I don't believe in stoning them because the law of Moses was superceded by the law of Christ. Stoning was allowed under the law of Moses, but ecclesiastical executions ended when Christ established His Law and His Church. Now, Christ's Church allows the state to determine whom to execute. See John 8.

But the law of chastity which prohibits homosexual relationships was not superceded by the law of Christ. If you noticed, I cited to both Old and New Testament scriptures condemning homosexuality. In fact, the majority of the scriptures I cited are New Testament scriptures. And the New Testament states that those who engage in homosexual acts will be condemned spiritually, not executed.

To me, the issue is not homosexual v. heterosexual relationships. The issue is chastity v. unchastity. I believe that God has prohibited all sexual relationships outside of marriage, and He has defined marriage as a relationship that exists only between man and woman.
Also, if being born with certain tendencies justifies all behavior, then why are we prosecuting pedofiles, serial killers, and sociopaths who may have genetic predispositions to commit horrendous acts? They were born that way, then how can it be their fault for raping a toddler, brutally murdering dozens of people, or toturing a person because they enjoy watching them suffer? Nature made them that way. It's not their fault, right?

We are all born with predispositions. But we are all born with the freedom to choose. We all have power to choose what we will do. Homosexuals are free to obey the law of chasity just like I am free to obey the law of chastity. The fact that I might be attracted to women other than my wife (because I was born heterosexual) does not permit me to commit adultery with them.

Chastity requires complete abstinence outside of marriage and complete fidelity during marriage.

If we accept the Bible as the word of God, we cannot read it selectively. If we do not accept it as the word of God, we don't have to follow it. The scriptures I cited to are either true or not true. Homosexual acts are either wrong or they are not, and if we say we believe the Bible, there can be only one conclusion.

That is my position, and I will say nothing more on the matter.
 
I think RRL’s general point is well-taken – that kids will bully outcast kids as a matter of course and that shouldn’t be allowed. But this assertion misses the mark on two points.

First, freaks and geeks are made fun of because they’re different. Gay kids are bullied not only because they’re different, but because bullies are probably have a cultural/religious antagonism behind their actions – a moral revulsion if you will. “You’re weird not just because you’re not like everyone else, but because my religion told me you’re weird.” I don’t think there’s anything in Leviticus about band nerds, but there is about what should happen to gay folks.

The second point is that when weirdo kids turn into adults, other adults typically don’t hate on them (openly) or deny them fundamental rights. I don’t hear anyone getting pissed off about letting Goths getting married at night, or whatever Goths do for their nuptials.

But for gay folks, the bullying takes on a different shape and form and continues into adulthood. For example, the rationale behind prohibiting consenting adult-humans from marrying is rooted in moral revulsion: “My God says you can’t get hitched at city hall because what you do is wrong.” Prohibiting gays from serving in the military is likewise predicated on the same belief.

So there’s the big difference. It's why the "gay narrative" is so much more publicly apparent than the plight of nerdlingers. The bullying is not necessarily calling someone a queer on the street. Most adults have the sense not to do that. The bullying continues on into adulthood and manifests itself in a different, socially acceptable and perhaps less overt form, justified purely on what a lot of people subjectively believe to be true.
 
Rats. I had a long comment that somehow didn't show up. Anyways...

Craig, I was hoping you would post. Lee, I respect Craig's viewpoint on this because he is one of the most devout people I know and his church, the Mormons, are fairly consistent on sexual issues. That is, they revere (and generally excel at) marriage, and while they discriminate against gays (as does Baylor), they also see the same sin in many people who are divorced and remarried-- something Jesus DID specifically teach.

RRL, I just don't think the teasing that I ever got is anything like what gay and lesbian kids heard. It's different in many ways-- in quantum, in consistency, and in the fact that my tease-factors were obvious and theirs were secret (which must matter psychologically).
 
RRL, the problem is more than just the bullying. It's the bullying backed up by a culture that says the bullies are right. It's Tony Perkins saying that anti-bullying laws penalize Christians. It's Carl Paladino saying that homosexuality is destructive.

Some of the items you've listed (like bullying associated with weight) need special attention too. Weight-based discrimination is a serious problem too, and bullying based on that shouldn't continue either. But no one (yet) has argued that fat people shouldn't get married or that you can't show fat people on TV.
 
Does god not love those
who are gay? Why no? He did love
enemies, sinners.
 
I don't believe in stoning them because the law of Moses was superceded by the law of Christ.

So until Jesus came along it was ok to violently murder people with rocks simply because it was in the law of Moses? This is why I have such a problem with religion- whether the Bible says it's ok is irrelevant to whether it's actually moral or not. Murder doesn't stop being murder just because God says it's ok in certain circumstances, like, say, as punishment for working on the Sabbath or not being a virgin on your wedding night.
 
Thank you for posting this Mark. I agree with you and with Micah wholeheartedly.

I was never a bully, I was the one defending anyone I thought was being bullied (sometimes my chivalry was unwanted, lol). I defended everyone, everyone but myself. Those hits I learned to absorb. I mean, who can argue with facts about your appearance?

I take issue with the "it gets better" slogan because I don't know if it does. Perhaps it gets quieter anyway. But the bullies (passive and aggressive) are still very real.

My father was a preacher and I don't remember him endlessly teaching (the way many do today) about sin, unless it was sin of omission. He taught me to not fail to stand up for others as Christ stood up for us.

A good preacher knows, you don't have to preach on sin. People know what sin is. It is that which separates them from God. Sin is personal, but it bears out to destroy communities. Sin devours the soul.

Can sin be sexual in nature? Sure. You don't need me to preach it. You know how. But is sex evil? No! And, can love be a sin? I doubt it. So, if you follow Christ,and truly try to be humble, you can know sin by comparing the wages of sin vs. the fruits of love. Find a loving couple, there can be no doubt of the product of love. That is the best and only proof I need.

Finally, I am no way without sin and would not presume to cast stones, even if I thought this kind of love was a sin.
 
Could not agree more, Oz. Your experience exactly mirrors my own, except that your understanding began well before mine did. I thank God every day, though, that s/he ultimately helped me grow up.

Just a year ago, I had occasion to make amends to someone to whom I had not been very nice, a long time ago. It was something I had been ready to do for several years, but had not had the occasion to see him face-to-face.

Micah, you and I have never met, but I admire you.

Josh Z., you are exactly right. It is up to fathers like us to end this kind of tyranny. Now.

To me, Christ's message is that we are to love. If we don't, we are not following him or his teachings. Period.
 
I was bullied from 4th grade till I graduated from high school. Sure, by the end, I wasn't really being bullied, but in my mind, I sure was. It screwed up my self-esteem badly and absolutely contributed to some of the mistakes I've made since then.

Kids figured out I was vulnerable in 4th grade and went after me... and my defensive reaction made it worse. Some teachers tried to stop it, but what I really needed was a spine and some self-confidence. I couldn't find anything that would give me such self confidence. I was bad at sports and awkward and foolish. Sure, I got good grades, but in kid world no one cared.

I picked up a nasty nickname in the 4th grade that stuck with me till I graduated from high school. I was so glad to leave that behind.

It DID get better... especially when I discovered activities like model United Nations and Order of the Arrow (a Boy Scout Honor society) that took me away from the people who tormented me.

And I was not gay. Far from it. Kids called me gay, of course. They called me every nasty name you can think of. I got punched, kicked, verbally harrassed, all of it. Occasionally I'd punch someone and draw a little blood, but that didn't fix anything. I just had to learn to take it.

I know at least one guy from High School who came out while in college. He was one of the funniest, most brilliant people around. I only met him in 9th grade(he was a sophomore). He may have been bullied before that, but not by then. He was a Godlike figure to many of us -- brilliant, FUNNY, destined for success.

I am SURE he had lots of internal torment going on, but in the three years I knew him in HS, NO ONE bullied him.

There are bullies out there. And they should be identified and disciplined. But the more important part of the solution is to work with the victims... straight and gay. Teach them to act with high self esteem. help them to figure out what they are good at -- get them OUT of unpleasant environments.
 
a long time ago we had a great discussion about laws and morality that I think osler should repost in light of this one.

However, I do agree that people currently seem to be focused only on the bullying that happens to gays. While no bullying should be allowed, including RRL making fun of me for being both a Polak and and Aggie, it seems having any contrary moral opinion brands you as a bully.

For instance, Lane you cite Paladino as a bully for believing that homosexuality is destructive. Somehow, his beliefs that the act is wrong and causes harm to society (i.e. is destructive) based on his moral compass has you brand him as a bully. (Yes I know he's said more, but you cited that quote specifically). that quote doesn't seem out of context for his beliefs and doesn't invoke maltreatment of anyone, just that he feels their behavior is harmful to a society's well being.

I for instance think divorce is destructive. Does that mean that I'm bullying those that are or have been?

My point is two fold, 1) lots of bullying goes on and the emphasis on gays is unfair compared to other forms. 2) those who don't believe homosexuality is immoral immediately brand those do as bullies.

Lastly, Osler I'll point out that you shouldn't compare the teasing you got vs. what you "think" gays and lesbians got. Things like quantum and consistency can be quite different for all groups and those getting bullied. I was bullied for being different/smarter than the bully/a Polak/a Catholic/white/an immigrant/fat/clothes I wore etc. etc. etc. and so I imagine it might have been just as bad as for others or those that might have been considered gay, but I won't make that assumptionn.
 
You misunderstand. I'm not calling paladino a bully. I'm saying Paladino's actions legitimize the type of bullying in this instance. For instance, if someone is bullied because of race or appearance, there are no politicians saying, "that's right, near-sightedness and brown skin are bad things and we are absolutely right to condemn them." there is a segment of society that says that being gay is WORTHY of condemnation, and that is the difference-maker.

That said, people were pretty awful to me during my youth, until I got fed up with it. I don't recommend my solution, because violence is never the answer, and all it did was beget more violence. But I never once felt like society disapproved of who I was; just my small-minded townspeople, and, well, screw them. I almost never go back there, and since I moved, they don't matter any more. But not everyone has the luxury of my response. Some people can't change their environment. I consider myself lucky that I dodged it. I wouldn't be surprised, however, if a gay or lesbian student from my hometown committed suicide. And just like the last kid who did, the adults would blame the wrong things, because to them, teasing and bullying kids is a way to correct aberrant behavior, like when my teachers told me that it was good that kids made fun of me so I wouldn't show how smart I was.
 
Great discussion!

Kids do bully and many kids, not all but many, who bully other kids grow up to be adults who bully. Take a look around, there is no lack of adults from all walks of life who regularly participate in this egregious and destructive behaviour.

Bullying is really about power or the use of it in a dominating and destructive manner to humiliate or subjugate another person.

Your discussions about rights are an attempt to address issues of power and justice. This is good because these discussions need to be had continually.

What is often missing in our culture, in our religions or faiths, and in our own lives is a committment to self-examination (in the Christian context for instance confession, repentance, and growth through forgiveness).

When humility and charity are in short supply and lampooned by all political persuasions as the last refuge of weak scoundrels, then is it any surprise that bullying flourishes?
 
There is no consistent Biblical (Christian Bible OT, NT) sexual ethic.

At various times, polygamy or monogamy were favoured. At various times, concubines were tolerated or allowed and what we would call slave rape was encouraged (see Sarah and Hagar). By the generation of Jesus of Nazareth, most Jewish men had one wife because the people lived in villages and hamlets and the men could only afford to have one wife. The Muslim concept of having up to four wives is really attributable to the stories of the patriarchs, stories common among Jews, Chrstians, and Muslims.

You will not find any positive affirmation of homosexual relationships in the Bible, this is true. But, among many other considerations, we need to keep in mind that the concept of sexual orientation is a modern one with roots in nineteenth century psychology, and ultimately, in the Kantian enlightenment. The Biblical writers (Jewish priests in the OT and St. Paul and the boys in the NT) were interested in the story of God's covenant with Israel and the birth, life, death, resurrection, and Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Issues of what we would call human sexuality did not vex them in the same way that they do us. Also, they did not look at gender or race with the same lenses as we do.
 
IPLawguy,

Thank you. Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for being such a case study of "it gets better." There are a lot of bullies out there and a lot of victims and not all the victims are gay. I am a mother of a kid who was relentlessly bullied. He left the school and the bullies behind, but he still has deep emotional scars from that experience. I wish I could say that I forgive the bullies. I don't. I don't forgive the bullies, the parents of the bullies, the teachers or the administrators. I know I shouldn't hate. But I do. I hate people who engage in calculated meanness.
 
I am compelled to defend Baylor, because it was at Baylor that I learned to love all and to resist judgment of others. I trust Prof. Osler is correct when he says Baylor discriminates against gays. However, my experience at Baylor did not include this. In fact, I remember there was a Rainbow Club, comprised of LGBTQs and their supporters. Man, they threw the best parties.

Furthermore, it troubles me that Christians are seen as a major force behind the hate of LGBTQs. In fact, Dan Savage, the sex columnist who initiated the "It Gets Better" campaign, is a fervent critic of Christianity. Sadly, the churches that get publicity are those churches that preach against homosexuality. And while I know that all churches do not preach this message, it is their message that is deemed newsworthy. We do not hear about the churches that welcome homosexuality- like the Episcopalians or the Presbyterians. Heck, there are Baptist churches in Waco, Texas that welcome LGBTQs.

Now that I live up North, I realize that as Christians, we are under constant attack. It is presumed that if we are Christian we are narrow-minded. However, we need to get better (pun intended). Somehow we need to demonstrate openness, that we love our neighbors and that Jesus loves us all equally, regardless of our sexual orientation.
 
I should add that I attend an Episcopal Church and that has many gay and lesbian parishioners.

"Christians" are often very welcoming to Gay people.

And many Christians are not.

And I know some pretty "unchurched" bigots too.

Just as the "bullied" aren't necessarily gay, "bullies" aren't necessarily Christians.
 
Lane I re-read your post and now understand what you meant to say. However, I still think that you make a leap with a comment that merely saying "homosexuality is destructive" somehow legitimizes bullying of homosexuals.
The reason I cited back to the morality discussion on the Razor (my favorite discussion ever) is that i think it fits in neatly with you your idea that somehow the speech against homosexuality is different than any other moral ground and I CANNOT condemn the behavior.
Why?
Since when are we prohibited from condeming people for their actions if they are morally repugnant to us?
 
Right. That statement in isolation wouldn't do it either (curse my abbreviated typing on my phone, but the blog seems to crash everything else). None of these things (bullying, statements, whatnot) taken in isolation add up to "societal problem," but acting in concert they can make it more difficult for a person to come to grips with his or her identity when they find no positive reinforcement, which is what I really like about the "It Gets Better" project, is that it provides young queer kids with positive role models that can give a more balanced view of homosexuality than they get from even supposedly "gay-friendly" media.

If Paladino's statements were just out-of-the-blue outbursts, they'd be different. But they're not; I hate using the term "culture war" but it sort of applies. There's one faction that is really intolerant about the whole issue, and another that doesn't find it to be an issue at all. And it's not a Christian/non-Christian thing. Lots of Christians have no problem with homosexuals, even if they might find homosexuality itself to be a sin, which isn't anything problematic. And yes, Dan Savage tends to focus a bit much on the negatives.
 
I agree that kids are bullied for many reasons. But one image that stays in my mind after many years comes from my seven years in college admissions.
We had to go to college fairs at high schools all over the state, every year. I can't tell you how many times I'd see who I think I can safely say was the lone gay teenager--sometimes an overweight gay teenager, almost always a guy--coming tentatively and broodingly up to the table AT THE VERY END, after all the other kids had come and gone.

I could only imagine what the rest of his days might be like. I was the lucky one: I was an adult, past those days, and I got to leave after an hour at the school.

I agree that kids are bullied for all kinds of reasons (and thanks to IPLaw Guy and Micah and Osler for their stories). I just think sexual orientation is the last frontier. I don't know why it's different (kids don't choose to be skinny or overweight or short or not-interested-in-sports, either), but it is. Maybe it's because sexual orientation is a harder thing to understand, even without all the religious implications, than being skinny or short or geeky.

I applaud Osler for his own coming-out (of sorts). As for the issue of homosexuality being right or wrong, I don't think it's an issue of right or wrong. It just is. Craig, I admit I have not looked at those passages from the Bible. But I do know that Christianity is about love, above all, and it seems to me that any people who want to love someone of the same sex and love God too should not be discouraged from doing both at the same time. It just seems that God would not want to discourage anyone from loving someone else, from making a lifelong commitment as so many gay and lesbian individuals do--and take just as seriously as heterosexual individuals do.

I also see homosexuality as a privacy issue, which I'm not sure if anyone has mentioned. I see it perhaps more as a privacy issue than as a moral or even sexual issue. It's about the pursuit of happiness, which our country is founded upon, and it's about privacy. (for me)
 
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