Standing Up to Bullying is Not Enough

Anti-bullying campaigns have become a rally call for kids who are being harassed and picked on in the schoolyard and at home. When I was growing up, bullying was almost more of an initiation process certain kids had to go through in order to be accepted into the group. The eighties and nineties was a good time to be a kid because racism was a distant memory our parents carried with them and sexual orientation wasn’t to become more prominent until after we graduated from high school. In those two decades of rest, the only way you were going to have a hard time at school was if you were a punk, annoying, or bad at sports – in which case, you just had to prove yourself to be accepted and everything was cool. Things are much different now and the stakes are much higher, as the movie Bully, due to hit theaters nationwide this Friday, suggests.

With the explosion of Facebook, Twitter, and other major networking devises invading nearly every home in America, bullying doesn’t stay on the schoolyard like it used to. With girls feeling more pressure than ever to look a certain way, and guys required to put on a certain façade, bullying has cut deeper into the core of people’s beings more than ever before, and it has more tools to do so more than ever. The onslaught and brutality of bullying today, in its many forms, has caused many children to turn the gun on themselves, believing that there was no way to escape it. It’s not child’s play anymore.

But we’re not going to discuss bullying here. Instead, we’re going to look at the other end of the spectrum. We’re turning our sights from the wicked assailants to the “helpers” of victims of bullying. There are many people who have good intentions to help those who are suffering from this devastating plague. No child or adolescent should ever feel like their life is being threatened or that there’s no safe place to go to share their hurt and pain. But allow me to propose a thought:

Telling kids that they’re all right just the way they are is just as harmful as bullying.

Let me quickly disparage any notions by stating what I don’t mean. If a boy would rather play a flute than with a ball, I don’t think you should take the flute away. If a girl would rather play softball than take dance, get her a glove for her birthday and play catch with her. I’m not talking about skill preference here.

Consider this story: Let’s say I was born, naked, as we all are. The nurses cleaned me up, cut the cord and took care of all the procedures. If my parents took me home without any clothes on, people would consider that to be a bit cruel. But let’s say some years pass and they still never put clothes on me. Soon, I’m heading off to school buck-naked and hopping around the schoolyard totally exposed. When people question my parents about this, they look stunned and say, “Well, he was born that way.” Just because a baby is born with six legs doesn’t mean we shouldn’t remove them if it’s not life-threatening. If a child is born with a tumor, there’s no reason to keep it there just because he’s born with it.

Folks, we cannot let this generation of kids grow up believing that they’re okay just the way they are, sin and all. Yes, we must stop the bullying. But at the same time, lovingly come alongside children and tell them what’s right and what’s wrong. It’s not right for a boy to kiss other boys. Why? Because God will seriously deal with those who choose to give in to the wicked desires of their hearts. When we tell children (or adults for that matter) that it’s okay to “love” who you want, how you want, and when you want, and be who you choose to be (gender-speaking), then we are inviting the wrath of God to be poured out on them, and we are in essence just as bad, if not worse, than the kids sending hate messages to their inboxes.

I am not saying that we can force anyone to do anything or make certain choices. But I am saying that we are doing them a disservice if we don’t point a way out of their bully-infested torture chambers. When we say to a little girl who likes other girls that she should just accept who she is, we are only locking her into a dark and terrifying room of uncertainty, fear, and cosmic wrath. It is our job then, to open the door to that cell by showing them that there is another way to live, and that is by following the commands of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is not bullying. This is true, true love, which leads to freedom. Could that little girl still struggle with her sexual orientation even after she’s accepted the Lord’s invitation to follow Him? It’s very likely, but she will be free to choose against her fleshly desires and stand up to those who tell her to accept who she is.

Bullying is a more serious issue than it ever has been before. But an evil which is just as great is also on the rise: tolerance (or ignorance). To make kids think that they have to be gay if that’s how they feel, or to tell them that there’s no sense in trying harder at a sport or skill if they’re not any good at it, or to feed them until they’re full and happy, is just plain hatred and spite. Coddling our children’s sinful behaviors breeds a generation of ignorant, lazy and miserable people.

Let us love our children and our neighbors instead, and show them the path of righteousness that will lead to a freedom they would have never imagined in their entire lives.

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About adoptingjames
My lovely wife and I are foster parents, dog owners, home owners, and Christians. I am a blogger, book editor, and author. On my blog you'll read about adoption, faith topics, inspirational thoughts, and a whole lotta Disney/Pixar lovin'! For the most exciting read ever, check out my suspense/adventure novel, The Man in the Box. You. Will. Love it.

9 Responses to Standing Up to Bullying is Not Enough

  1. Andy, while I agree with this post in regards to the sexuality/gender issue, I don’t think it necessarily applies to all bullying situations. Sometimes kids are bullied for simply no other reason than the fact that they are different than a majority of others (some would use the words “nerdy” or “geek”). Saying that, in these situations, these kids are somehow doing something to invite bullying into their lives is wrong.

    Conversely, if a kid identifies himself as gay, while I may disagree with any parent encouraging that behavior, that child still should not be bullied. No matter how wacky a kid is, bullying is never an appropriate “punishment’ or response.

    But I do agree with you that too many parents are content to simply let their kids “discover themselves” and provide no guidance for them whatsoever.

    • I suppose I should have clarified that concerning the “geeks” and “nerds,” which was the topic of cry in our generation (less serious than the racism before it and less lethal than today’s issues, yet still a worthy chapter to look into, filled with tears and regrets). I figured that was another topic for another time as I’ve been on both sides of that spectrum and have a personal attachment. Thank you for your honesty and pointing that out.

  2. terry1954 says:

    i am so proud of you for standing up and telling the complete truth.

  3. I think that expanding a child’s horizons is a good thing. To make a child feel that they are sinful for doing something that feels natural for them, or is a central piece of their identity, is just as bad (in my mind) as bullying. Showing them another avenue, when it isn’t shoved down their throat, is fine with me. To tell a child that identifies themselves as gay that they can be “cured,” that is not OK in my mind. That insinuates that “gay” is a disease. It is not. But, yes, proper guidance (guidance, not totalitarian rule) should be given to every child. But every child should be allowed to find themselves, with a basis of love and dignity as their bedrock.

  4. irishsignora says:

    You may remember why I am saying a prayer of particular thanksgiving that people like you are now saying this. God grant you a thunderous voice, that what you have said here may be heard by every young person facing the darkness I survived.

  5. Words of truth in deed James. These are real issues that are overlooked yet having great influence in our daily living. Our children need mentors like you.

  6. I lived bullying my whole life. I thank the Lord for saving me a past drunk, drug user, fornicator, bipolar with post traumatic stress disorder, and all around sinner. The Bible clearly states what sin is. When you are born-again, you have the light inside that grows daily. It is horrible how kids bully past and present. Showing love and kindness for one another, is not acceptance of one’s way in sin. We have the opportunity always to be that outward and inward light for others. If a person is destined for God’s mercy, he will save them. I do have a Christian friend (ex-gay) that has been celebate over seven years. Yes he has tempting but, he belongs to God now and forever. Just as all sinners do and we are converted by him, by the Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. It states clearly in the Bible, he gives them over to their own desires. If they are not meant to see they won’t.

  7. So, to clarify:

    Following instincts that have been proven by science and common sense to be A: natural and B: not a choice, between consenting adults, and causing no harm: not okay.

    Basing your moral code off the 6,000 year old rambling scribblings of some superstitious Jews: okay.

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