Bullying no, but is that it? Nothing more to say? Really?

Not just educational apparatchiks, but Russel Moore. For an earned doctorate Christian spokesman to fail to distinguish between condemnation and shame and bullying in an article like this is an indication of not yet being ready for prime time. Or rather, of allowing prime time's baubles to get to you.

Tell me, good Russell, precisely what sorts of things do you think Christian students should say about sodomy on public campuses? Or is the very name 'Sodomite" off limits because it hurts? Is it "rhetorical pornography?"

(TB, w/thanks to Kamilla)

Comments

Maybe he just means "fag."

"The Jesus we follow did not just die for those who believe in him; his father created each one of us in his own image."

Yikes.

There's a big difference between civilly, but firmly, condemning homosexuality and bullying a homosexual person. Words like "faggot" have no use in public discourse, nor do threats of violence towards homosexuals.

Liberals will often take a good cause and use it for their agenda. Students are bullied, and it's a problem that needs to be addressed. The trick is how to address it without having civil arguments against homosexuality thrown in with legitimate bullying.

Amen, college Jay. I was converted largely through the ministrations of a kind soul who told me in plain, simple, straightforward language, and with palpable sorrow and compassion, that I was a rebel and was going to hell. I was wounded to the core. Now, each of us has our own style, and we're kidding ourselves if we think the world, especially the politically correct college side of it, will see the difference between calling someone a stupid faggot and condemning sodomy, but I think the article has a point. I often think about people I don't like or disagree with and try to think, if by the grace of God this person is converted and I see them in glory, am I going to want them to see me and say "hey, there's that guy who was cruel to me"?

#3, #4 Concur.

Generally, evangelism is at its most effective when it is done in the context of relationship (Roger's point above). Or, to put it in Calvinist terms, it is the Christians who make the effort to build relationship with unbelievers, who work from the premise that "there is no sinner without a future" (and who remember for themselves that there is "no saint without a past"), who are then the most likely to see the elect come to faith. It is almost always those Christians who will then have the privilege of discipling those elect.

If we want to see what does work with connecting homosexuals with the Gospel, it might pay to look at the websites of some exgay ministries, and see what light they can shed on the matter.

>>Maybe he just means "fag."

No, he certainly does not "just mean fag." He may privately assure us that's all he and his friends meant, but no one alive today would read it that way. They would see him as also condemning "sodomy" and "perversion" and "abomination" and "Seventh Commandment" and "God's Moral Law" and "sin." Anything gay men or boys perceive as hurtful.

A Biblical witness beyond a cloying friendship evangelism today is condemned as a failure to love the sinner while hating the sin. There's no freedom even to hate the sin. The sinners will see it as the rejection of their identity and personhood, as College Jay points out so well under the other post. To paraphrase someone, they'll tell you that you may hate the sin while loving the sinner, then they'll make sure you never say anything hurtful about the sin because the sinner might find it hurtful, oppressive, demeaning, an attack upon his identity, etc.

This each of these men understands perfectly, but instead of negotiating the minefield in such a way as to make the Word of God clear on this matter, they wrote an article that could never get them accused of having a part in teen suicide. They are so preciously close to the white flag of surrender. I mean, who in their right mind would be offended at this piece? In this day of the bullying blackmail, it's a pitch-perfect piece.

Sadly,

I can verify that National Review Online will not permit commenters to use the word "sodomite".

I've seen many more claims of threatened violence against sodomites than I have actual threats - in fact, I don't think I've seen a single one from the conservative/orthodox Christian sources I read.

But I can point you to at least two sodomite-celebrating website where lil' ole me with my Klout score below 50 has been threatened with physical violence for standing against the celebration of sodomy in the public square.

Ridicule is an appropriate weapon of political and spiritual warfare. Read Martin Luther for lots and lots of good examples. He wasn't afraid to call people names and to make them squirm as much as he could. He who does shameful things should be shamed.

There's tit for tat, of course, and we should not object if our enemies try to ridicule us too. I have some experience with that, and it's not all that bad. You just have to not care for the opinion of the one doing the ridiculing and not feel ashamed of what you're saying. One reason ridicule is so effective is that it *is* hard not to feel its impact if you know you really deserve it.

One thing about ridicule, though. When you're dealing with a young person who is struggling with same-sex desires, behaviors, and/or effeminacy, it doesn't really work, especially if you're an older individual in a position to help or mentor that young person.

I'm sympathetic to anti-bullying measures both as a teacher and as a man who has struggled with same-sex desires himself for his whole life. It is, admittedly, hard to objectively spell out the difference between cruel bullying and loving condemnation, but you know it when you see it.

I think ridicule can work in some situations, but we have to remember who we're ridiculing, and if compassion might be a better approach for that person. And I mean real compassion, not dishonesty or skirting around the issue. A confused teenager being bombarded with the lies of the world? In my view, not to be ridiculed. Challenged, encouraged, warned, and boldly loved, but not picked on. An adult promoting those lies? Ridicule away.

But we have to remember who we're talking to, which is why I do think relationships are important when evangelizing, especially about something as intimate as sexuality. We're going to offend no matter what, because Christ is offensive, but like Ross said, we've all been there before. There are no saints without a past. We can remember what opened our eyes.

And Kamilla, I do have to say that there are threats of violence against homosexuals, or heck, any boys who are perceived as being feminine or weak. It may not happen on online forums, but it certainly happens in school lunchrooms, hallways, and classrooms.

>>> When you're dealing with a young person who is struggling with same-sex desires, behaviors, and/or effeminacy

Right. You wouldn't use ridicule for the tender, the struggling who is trying. It is for the hardened one, the one who mocks.

All kids mock, Daniel. It's a sad state of affairs, but that's how they're brought up to respond to the world. That doesn't mean they're hardened. It means they're confused, defensive, and need some salt and light in their dark worlds.

I say this not out of sentimentality, but out of pragmatism. I just don't think ridicule works for adolescents. We want them to change their ways because they love Jesus, not so we'll leave them alone, not because they're embarrassed, and not because they want to sit with the nice Christian kids in the cafeteria. When discussing any behavior, of course we care about people doing the right thing, but we also want it to be the right thing for the right reasons.

I wasn't talking about ridiculing kids. When I said hardened ones and mockers I meant men given over to evil, like Dan Savage. That's more of a personal ridicule. But there is also a way to show the ridiculousness of a behavior while reassuring the people of your love for them - good pastors do it all the time. I'm saying sometimes each of these are helpful and necessary tools. I think you're saying sometimes they're not the right thing, and that they must be used wisely. I don't disagree.

Yes, that's what I was saying. I'm sorry. I misunderstood your context.

Perhaps it's that ridicule works best when addressed to someone of equal or higher status and power. When addressed to someone lower, it's more likely to be petty. If someone has lower status and power, you can address their deficiencies or misbehavior directly.

Eric,

I think that's right. To paraphrase King Lune from The Horse and His Boy: never mock a man save when he is stronger than thee, then as you please.

Dear College Jay,

Thanks for your post, I always find them very interesting.

A couple of things,

1. Bullying as an issue is being inflated - online or in the locker room. It's becoming a straw man tactic used by many people who hate disciple and those in bondage to their sin.

2. The perceptions of the bullied do not constitute reality.

A boy who is bullied is not a will-less non-agent in this process. He chooses how he responds to it.

All boys experience some level of bullying, this is life. It either becomes bullying or discipline, depending on the boy. A boy has a choice to identify himself as a victim, a perpetrator or as neither.

When I was in school, I had many fights that instead of leading to more fights in the locker room or lunch room led to a look of respect from those I fought - those I beat and ... those I didn't. But even better was that by high school I realized I never really had to fight - I could just laugh off a comment made, rather than insult back and escalate things or ignore it and invite more insult.

The gay man always identifies the discipline of his peers as bullying. The straight man often looks at the exact same experiences that gay men have had and calls it well, friendship.

So the way to help gay men is not to perpetuate the victim mentality - but to treat them as men - to tell them the truth, like a good friend does and as a father does his son, saying, "You're strong enough to take this" - which is to say, "I respect you as a man."

I have three sons - each very different. My oldest has always seemed to have the normal boy thing down, no trouble. Then there's my middle boy who is like me - he has a lot of fight in him, which also causes people to fight with him. As his father, I have to make sure he doesn't get crushed. Then there's my youngest son - who is the hardest of all. He's the sort of boy who, if I let him, would think of himself as a victim - he's got two very strong older brothers - he can't see that he's just as strong (or stronger) than they were at his age - he just feels like he doesn't measure up. I teach my older boys to use their strength to strengthen those who are weaker - that this is the purpose of man's strength.

So I deal with each of them differently. I can only think of one time where I appropriately ridiculed my son - it was when he was whining about something over and over - his other two brothers who shared the room with him were completely fed up - and I mocked his whining in front of them.

And you know what, he stopped immediately and pretty much never did it again - and also gave me a big hug afterward.

Clint, with all due respect, I'm a teacher, and bullying -- real bullying -- is not an overblown issue. Not even close. Like I said earlier, it has been used to further an evil agenda, but that does not mean there is not a big problem in how children relate to one another. There clearly is.

And I was also bullied as a child. It wasn't because I was gay or because I was a victim, but because I had a large nose, because my family was poor, because I didn't wear the right clothes, because I was intelligent, because I lacked coordination, because I was artistic, because I wasn't as physically strong as the others, because I drove a car that was falling apart at the seams...

The boys who bullied me were not my friends, nor were they trying to be my friends, and just by giving a glance at where they are in life right now (some are in prison, some are deadbeat fathers, some have shacked up with girlfriend after girlfriend and have children scattered about the state) I have a difficult time calling them "men."

I appreciate you taking the time comment. I really do. And I understand what you're trying to say. But I stand by the things I have said, too. Recognizing when you have been wronged is not the same as being a victim. You're also assuming that every boy, straight or gay, has a stable family at home to tell him he is loved. That is most certainly not the case. In fact, it often isn't the case at all.

I think I hit "reply" too soon. I'll wrap up by saying that we can only view situations like this through our own personal experiences, and as I said earlier, the line between bullying and righteous condemnation is sometimes blurry. There aren't objective standards here.

The story between you and your son is touching, but do remember that you were able to effectively mock him because you already have a loving, trusting relationship with him. That's not the case for peers in a school or church. Thanks for taking the time to write.

Dear CJ,

Firstly, don't get me wrong. I don't think the right way to father is to mock your sons and I do think there are cases of real bullying. (I hate the word bullying - it's a word you didn't hear used years ago - a boy would have felt like a loser using it.)

I could give a laundry list of ways I've felt wronged by all sorts of people (and I often do, unfortunately) - but your list and the list I would readily give proves my point of how society is all about victimhood.

There's too much to write on a blog - it's not the right forum but, CJ, you've got to stop thinking of yourself as a victim - you can't help the men you counsel on your blog if you don't. Also, I say again, have you talked to your pastors about this? They can help and if they can't, there are others pastors who can.

I say this in love. You really should come to ClearNote's summer conference - it's about the Fatherhood of God and while you're here meet some of our pastors and talk with them about these things.

Best Regards,
Clint

You're right, this really isn't the right forum for this conversation, but if you would like to e-mail me, I would appreciate that. My e-mail address can be found through my Blogger profile.

Speaking of my blog, I officially retired it about two years ago. It's still up, but I don't post anymore, I've never intended to "counsel" anyone, and I haven't done more than comment on a few other blogs in quite awhile.

So please e-mail me if you have the time, because I do have a lot to say in response, but I don't think this is the right forum for it.

I will say this, though. You shouldn't assume that what people call bullying today is the same thing as the friendly, manly "boys will be boys" stuff that you're thinking about. Oh, sure, there are sniveling neurotics all over the place who will call it bullying if you look at them wrong. But what I'm speaking about isn't that kind of stuff. I think you didn't hear the term used years ago because, well, it didn't really happen years ago. Not like it does today.

And I don't see or think of myself as a victim. Never have.

As a teacher, one thing I see a lot of is the 24/7 nature of bullying. When I was a kid, someone could give you a rough time at school and then you could go home and it would end. Now, you come home and find that the popular kids have gotten 700 of their facebook friends to write "you should go hang yourself" on your wall. Or you get a text every twenty minutes calling you names, or whatever. And yes, they should just ditch the electronics, but one thing modern technology does is it makes it much harder for kids to escape this kind of stuff. Another thing that disturbs me is that kids don't know how to be friends anymore. Since reality TV got big, kids in my public school are showing up saturated with a cultural soundtrack that exclusively trades in mockery and sarcasm, and kids just don't stick up for each other much. I think CJ's point is a good one- while I hesitate to sound like that guy griping about kids these days, technology and the general decline of the family are making childhood different today for lots of kids, and mostly negatively.

"College Jay"-- I wish you'd use your real name. As Fezzik once said to Inigo Montoya: "You be careful. People in masks cannot be trusted."

"College Jay" has me thinking though. The context I was assuming for loving ridicule that points out ridiculousness among Christians (as opposed to ridicule that attacks the wickedness of the ungodly) was the context of a father with his son, or the context of good friends rebuking each other in love. "College Jay" seems to be talking about a kind of ridicule where a boy has neither friend nor father. And God Himself commands special care for such orphans.

I wasn't thinking of the fatherless, I was thinking of my sons and other sons of the church. But the fatherless are everywhere and they do need a different level of care.

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