Standing Up to Bullying is Not Enough
April 25, 2012 9 Comments
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.