October 5th, 2010
04:10 PM ET

A Christian response to anti-gay bullying

Warren Throckmorton
Special to CNN

Editor's Note: Warren Throckmorton, PhD is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Grove City College. Along with Michael Frey, he leads the Golden Rule Pledge and blogs at warrenthrockmorton.com. Don't miss an "AC360°" special report in collaboration with PEOPLE Magazine, "Bullying: No Escape," all this week at 10 p.m. ET on CNN.

The nation is mourning the recent suicides of three young teens, Billy Lucas, Asher Brown and Seth Walsh. Although each situation was a little different, a common denominator was that a central feature of the harassment the boys experienced was anti-gay name-calling.

Sadly, these boys join a string of other suicide victims who'd been subjected to anti-gay bias.

The tragedies have heightened the attention of the public on an already contentious debate about how to prevent anti-gay harassment. While everyone agrees that such bullying is harmful and must be addressed, not all agree about the means to that end.

Gay groups want to enact legislation which specifically includes prohibitions on bullying based on bias toward gays or those perceived to be gay.

Some Christian conservatives believe such laws communicate approval of homosexuality and thus disapproval of traditional Christian teaching on sexuality.

My view is that evangelicals need to put ideological worries aside and become part of the solution.

Addressing anti-gay bias doesn't require anyone to change religious beliefs about sexuality.

Current laws forbid bias on account of religion and yet I do not believe these laws promote my religion or any religion. Since religious bias is sometimes at the root of aggression toward others, laws set the boundaries of behavior in an explicit manner.

In the same way, it seems reasonable for schools to make clear that the boundaries of appropriate behavior exclude name-calling and harassment involving perceptions about sexual orientation.

Addressing such bias strikes me as an application of the Golden Rule – do to others as you would have them do to you.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Bullying • Gay & Lesbian Issues • Opinion
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Yokeena Jamar - North Hollywood, CA

    Bullying and discussions on homosexuality in the schools are two distinct issues.

    Bullying in any higher learning institution should be treated as a criminal offense. It is purely harassment. All schools should have something in place with their local police department that enables a student to submit a request at their school and leave it to the law to persecute kids whose parents do not teach ethics in their household.

    A platform to discuss issues regarding homosexuality in the schools? This will not happen in a million years! Our lawmakers aren't having that. I believe that one of many solutions should be a support group/hotline for students to call, very similar to the rape hotline for young girls and teens. Opening this dialog in the schools will result to confusion and just too much energy spent on issues that the majority of the students do not identify with. However, I do agree that something must be done.

    October 6, 2010 at 6:35 am |
  2. Ari Y.

    I can see both sides. As a Christian, I do think to some extend that the laws could give that impression, but I also believe that supporting other people and encouraging them, no matter who they are or what they believe, is something that we are called to do. This law is something that would help protect kids from bullies and I think that in general this is needed, and from my point of view this law should not just include those who are gay but any child, whether they are teased for being overweight or gay or nerdy. And there is no reason Christians shouldn't support a law like this because of our call to love, like you said. I think I would support this, however, either way. But I also believe that it is the responsibility of the parents of the kids to address these issues early on and take part in the protection of their own kids and raising them to treat others with respect (this is a whole other subject matter with which I won't go any further in detail).

    October 5, 2010 at 8:41 pm |
  3. James Holzbauer

    It seems to me that telling youth they deserve to be and are going to be tortured in the torments of Hell for all eternity for being gay is the ultimate form of bullying.

    October 5, 2010 at 7:14 pm |
  4. Mary

    I think first of all we need our school leaders to become more aggressive in their handling of bully's, their should be zero tolerants on bullying in their disciplinary handbooks. That said the parents should also become more involved in holding their children accountable

    October 5, 2010 at 6:55 pm |
  5. Melanie

    I absolutely agree. It is not about whether or not you personally agree with someone's lifestyle(not the right word, but for want of a better one), it's about preventing cruelty to your fellow man which is not something that is condoned by any religion.

    October 5, 2010 at 5:01 pm |
  6. Oscar Valiente

    I agree 100%, we all need to work on a solution to stop something that is invading schools and work places everywhere. I live in El Salvador and we've had our share of such tragic events. It's a joint effort and churches need to get with the program!!!

    October 5, 2010 at 4:52 pm |
  7. Janet

    I completely agree with you and I am a strong Christian conservative. Janet in Michigan

    October 5, 2010 at 4:42 pm |
  8. mario flores

    "let him that is without sin throw the first stone."
    "vengence is mine sayeth the lord"
    in other words, mind your own business

    October 5, 2010 at 4:30 pm |
  9. Karen

    Christians need to put their beliefs aside and think about everyone as human beings. It should never matter what race, sex, sexual orientation, etc, that someone is part of. No human being deserves to be bullied, period!

    October 5, 2010 at 4:24 pm |
  10. Krissy

    I think most Christians have lost sight of what it is to be a Christian. As Christians, we are called to defend and spread The Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world, and that includes the gay/lesbian community. I believe some of these conservatives lean on their own understanding and adhere to their own biases and predjiduces when it comes to this issue.

    These suicides should never have taken place, nor should the circumstances leading up to them. Bullying is bullying, whether the person is straight or gay. No one has the right to habitually torment another person for any reason. I know for a fact that when the children of these conservatives are bullied, they don't take it lying down, so why should anyone else?

    October 5, 2010 at 4:24 pm |
  11. Louis White

    As a Christian I can understand how some Christians can support this type of despicable behavior. They truly follow their own ala-carte flawed moral behavior. Christ taught love,exceptance, tolerance,kindness and charity. But that will not get you a mega-church or elected into office will it?

    P.S. Not all Christians believe the Earth is 6k years old either.

    October 5, 2010 at 4:20 pm |
  12. Lisa

    If this was Christian bigotry, you'd see the crosses fly. Everyone needs to be protected and it goes all the way down to the first grade where the bullying mentality starts. Bigotry is taught. Kids that are bigots have parents that are bigots. Parents, you want to teach your kids to be bigots? You'd better realize they may have to pay for it with jail sentences.

    October 5, 2010 at 4:15 pm |