October 21st, 2010
07:00 AM ET

My Take: Christianity not to blame for anti-gay bullying

Editor's Note: Jim Daly is president of Focus on the Family and author of Stronger: Trading Brokenness for Unbreakable Strength (David C. Cook, 2010).

By Jim Daly, Special to CNN

Bullies are, and always have been, a sad reality of life. They are also, courtesy of a handful of tragic news stories in recent months, major headline-generators right now. In the wake of the highly publicized suicides of some young gays outed or taunted by bullies, those who pick on people they perceive as “weird” or “weak” have rightfully come under fire. But so has the Christian faith, and there’s nothing right about that.

It has been suggested by some that Christianity itself is to blame for these tragedies - and that is its own separate tragedy. The train of thought goes like this: Churches and organizations like the one I lead, which believe Scripture places homosexual activity outside of God’s design for human sexuality, are responsible for the bullying of gay students and, by extension, their deaths.

As provocative as that narrative may be, and it certainly has ginned up quite a lot of controversy of late, it is not accurate. Not only is Christianity not to blame for attacks against gays and lesbians, when properly interpreted and practiced, it is the cure for and solution to the mistreatment and abuse of anyone, for any reason.

If there is a single golden thread woven through the Bible and the faith it informs, it is this: when it comes to human rights and how we treat each other, no person is superior or inferior to the next. Yes, sin exists; and God does not condone it. But he does embrace the sinner - and that means every one of us. Scripture makes it clear we’ve all fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), yet makes it just as clear (Romans 5:8) that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

So, to violate the dignity of another person, in any form or fashion, is to contradict the very basis of Gospel-centered living. And to suggest that an orthodox understanding of Christianity encourages abuse against homosexuals is a sad misreading of the very tenets of the faith.

Unfortunately, professed non-believers are not the only ones prone to misunderstanding and misapplying those tenets. The truth is, some self-described Christians do not act in Christlike ways toward those who are different than they are. Some think God sets certain behaviors aside as “super sins”; homosexuality, they believe, is of a higher (or lower) order than adultery or covetousness or lying or gossip; put more generally, they save their harshest judgments for the sins they don’t struggle with themselves. That is not biblical Christianity in practice.

Those who earnestly seek to emulate Jesus understand it is a matter of applying both his word and his deeds to our lives; that's why Christianity is often described as a "walk" - it requires two legs, truth and grace, to make any forward progress. That means, since we've all fallen short of God's glory (his truth), we must regard each other as more than just the sum of our sinful behaviors (his grace).

In the end, it's the graceless behavior of bullies - against homosexuals or anyone else - that should serve to remind both Christians and non-Christians why Jesus came to earth at all: It is his way, exclusively, that provides the power to transform hearts, minds and actions.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Jim Daly.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Homosexuality • Opinion

soundoff (504 Responses)
  1. Satan

    Really Jimbo? I don't think so. I have empowered you blindly faithfull trolls to carry out my bidding by espousing hate based on that wonderful text I created. Please, the least you can do is take credit for it. Thanks, you are doing fine work.

    October 21, 2010 at 1:26 pm |
  2. Scott

    This article is an excellent example of the "No True Scotsman" fallacy.

    What is a "true Christian"? One who follows the literal words of the OT Bible, and believes that gays should be stoned to death? One who comes to a more liberal notion of Biblical teachings, and believes that gays are "just sinning" by following their natural orientation?

    To put it in other terms, who is a "true Muslim"- one who follows the Koran's commands to jihad, or one who believes that jihad is a metaphor for an internal spiritual war not to be inflicted on anyone but yourself?

    Who gets to decide?

    October 21, 2010 at 1:25 pm |
  3. Jen

    I heard a quote this week that is true, but it made me sad. "I have no problems with Christ, just his representatives." Being that not one person is perfect and we are ALL sinners, sadly we as Christians are no exception. Accepting the grace and forgiveness God gives us is what sets us apart. We still have anger, jealousy and insecurities, just like everybody else. HOPEFULLY though we are tapping in the Lord to help us LOVE like he does. Sadly we fail, MISERABLY, but thankfully there is grace to all who ask for it. Having said that, I do not condone bullying of ANYBODY, no matter who they are. God did not create me to judge anybody, only to love them for where they are at. I grew up in a loving Christian home and was taught by my parents that while Jesus died for ALL sins, he LOVED everybody, NO EXCEPTIONS! And that is the same thing I am teaching my girls. Gay, straight, Bi, gossipper, thief, etc...I choose to treat everybody with respect and love. So while there may be "christians" out there who choose to speak judgement, it does not mean that CHRIST is still not loving. Representatives don't ALWAYS represent the correct way. We should, but we don't. I don't say that as an excuse but just to make the point that we are all fallible and in need of God's grace, no matter who we are.

    October 21, 2010 at 1:23 pm |
    • MK

      "Accepting the grace and forgiveness God gives us is what sets us apart. "

      What sets you apart from the rest of the lowlifes of the world who don't have a chance, right? This statement is exactly why you think you're superior...because "God" favors you. This is exactly how the church got you to join and how it keeps you coming back: if you don't belong to that church, you won't have "God's" favor.

      October 21, 2010 at 1:39 pm |
    • K


      "Accepting the grace and forgiveness God gives us is what sets us apart. "

      In the bible, this is not meant to represent separation of "people from people", but a separation from sin offered by God. Its an often misunderstood and mis-used passage.

      October 21, 2010 at 1:57 pm |
  4. DeeWig

    The Bible does say this and I don't know what Christians you deal with but I know for a fact that I'm not that great (I'm a Christian)...we're supposed to be humble. I'm sorry if someone led you astray

    October 21, 2010 at 1:23 pm |
  5. Massman

    My nausea from reading the article written by Jim Daly has subsided now so I will make this comment – not all Christian Churches reject gays as sinful people or promote the delusional idea that being gay is a choice! (Seriously, how many straight people do you know who woke up one day and made a final descision to be hetero?) Here's a research project for you all – what is an "open and affirming" Christian Church? Hint – UCC

    October 21, 2010 at 1:22 pm |
  6. Kyle

    If you're going to blame Christianity for the bullying of the LGBT community, then you should blame Islam for all Islamic terrorists. The rational is the same.

    October 21, 2010 at 1:20 pm |
  7. MANOFGOD2010

    Thank you CNN for having Jim from Focus on the Family post his thoughts!

    October 21, 2010 at 1:20 pm |
  8. Louis Kenmar

    But wait??? Doesn't the bible also say not to JUDGE that there is only one person that can????? But Christians think they are so much more perfect and they do no WRONG??? Did I miss something there?????

    October 21, 2010 at 1:20 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Louis Kenmar,

      You are right, we are not to judge another’s soul.

      But we must judge an action…how do you decide if something is a right action or a wrong action? You have to use judgment.

      But we have help…God has imbued our hearts with that necessary judgment so it is much easier to judge an action than by basically ‘trial and error’.

      October 21, 2010 at 3:51 pm |
    • Kelly Garrett


      Christians are not judging us when they are anti-gay. That judgment has already been made by their god. The only judgment they make is in determining is someone is gay, after that, there are the prescribed solutions...in the OT, that was being put to death. In the NT, they are required to be "tolerant" and constant targets of conversion. In the end, those that do not accept that monster in the bible go to hell. If we stand up and say we are gay, then there is no judgment on their parts at all, there is just a stated fact awaiting the prescribed solution.

      November 2, 2010 at 10:41 am |
    • Peace2All

      @Kelly Garrett

      Well Said...

      November 2, 2010 at 10:44 am |
  9. sumday

    Those who say Christianianty is responsible for bulling are navie- No mainstream religion accepts gay practises (or at least their scritpute doesn't accept it). When was the last time you heard of a Christian, or jew stoning a gay person? how about an islam person? Basicaly all religion says a higher being(s) designed and created us for a purpose and that intercourse was designed for the purpose of reproduction not for self satisfaction. many people bully gays bc they find the practise disgusting to them not because of their faith.

    October 21, 2010 at 1:19 pm |
    • bethkat

      First of all, in islamic countries they stone people to death all the time. As far as Christianity goes, do a little research and you will find that in many christian parts of africa people are stoned, tortured and killed for being gay. Even young children.

      October 21, 2010 at 2:54 pm |
  10. JSS

    I have a question, that I believe is rarely asked. I am a Christian and believe a gay/lesbian lifestyle is not how one should live. I believe anyone who reads the Bible will see this is clear. However, if one does not believe in the God inspired Bible, they must believe we were not created but have evolved. In that case, it is my belief that evolution even supports that a man and woman were meant to be together. I don't want to get into an anatomy lesson on here, but it seems very obvious. Evolution says for mankind to continue on, it must be through a man and woman.

    October 21, 2010 at 1:15 pm |
    • Doyou

      I believe in treating people as I wish to be treated. I have some personal beliefs, like, "you should not wear white shoes after Easter", "everyone must eat at the dinner table" and many others. But I do know my rights stop in the next persons face, and that is how I wish to be treated. I just do not get it when people say they do not "condone" another person living as they choose. Whole peoples have been genocided for merely not being or living the way another people felt they should. "If people can be made to believe aburdities they can be made to commit atrocities". Volitaire

      October 21, 2010 at 3:38 pm |
  11. Spike 29

    The whole premise of this article falls in line with my assertion that the liberal media is in large part responsible for the bullying of Christians.

    October 21, 2010 at 1:15 pm |
  12. Mark

    I sincerely hate these people. They should just up and die and put the planet out of our misery.
    Focus on the Family, not gays.

    October 21, 2010 at 1:15 pm |
    • Doug

      That was wonderful Mark, in such few words you completely summed up the views on tolerance, diversity, love, and respect by a majority of Democrats in America today.

      They can change the marketing and alter their methods a bit, but they are still the same divide and conquer Dixiecrats of the Robert Byrd party. I guess since they gave up the sheets that is somewhat of an improvement.

      October 21, 2010 at 1:38 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Doug : from your previous posts, you're not doing much better representing your side, whatever that is... Or am I mistaking you for some other Doug posting his anti-dem babbling?

      October 21, 2010 at 4:36 pm |
  13. Reallythough

    And by the way Jewel, you misquoted Ghandi: "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." He was right and as I a Christian I accept that and try everyday to do better. But I am willing to admit that I am a sinner and that I am not perfect. That is who I am. Is anyone from the other saying saying that?

    October 21, 2010 at 1:15 pm |
  14. PeteC

    The problem with relgion in general is that there is NO test or qualification other than simply stating you are a "blop" what ever that failth is. This works AGAINST the religion itself. As an example Ann Coulter says she is a Chrstian. Yet her actions are so vile they make your skin crawl. Ever read an Ann Coulter book? Good God. Someone like her can claim all day long that she is Christian. So who IS and who ISN'T a "real" Christian? I don't CARE. My point is that many of the so-called Chrisitans are anything but and USE their religion to defend their actions. As long as we keep religion at arms length, we are safe, the more we allow religion into our politics the worse off we will be.

    October 21, 2010 at 1:14 pm |
  15. Bob

    I wish Jim Daly would just Focus on His Own Damn Family and leave mine alone!

    October 21, 2010 at 1:13 pm |
  16. Doug

    Lib lib never lie, lib lib say it was those white Christians at Rutgers who posted the video online that resulted in that poor student killing himself, please don't search for their pictures or names, just trust lib lib, lib lib never lie!!!

    October 21, 2010 at 1:11 pm |
  17. Annexian

    Christianity also used to be behind "Antisemitism" big time. And I don't mean "The Dark Ages" exclusively.

    Right up until a little after WW2 they did a "Passion" every year and then there was always at least one Jewish shopkeeper's window shattered. -"Then answered all the Jews, and said, "His Blood be upon us, and our children!"--

    Whenever a child went missing (esp over Easter) they didn't look for "Chester the Molester" they looked for "Jerry the Jew" who kidnapped the little one to bleed for blood needed to make matzoh.

    But when the Jews started actually owning the media and the TV Preechers wanted to keep their TV shows, they stopped doing that and started the "Pro-Zionist" thing. Kiss up to them to spread the word for a few more decades, then laugh at them burning for eternity.

    October 21, 2010 at 1:10 pm |
  18. Frogist

    I keep checking to see it says "former" in front of president of Focus on the Family... that's the only way anything Daly has written could make sense. For him to self-righteously proclaim that he understands what true christians are supposed to be, and then lead an organisation that supports a day to protest the protesting of violence against gays... My mind is just blown. I don't disagree with his assertion that Christians should look towards being caring, supportive, non-judgemental people. But how can he expect his words to be received at face value coming from the president of such a reprehensible organisation. How can he not see the hypocrisy of his position? Christianity may not be completely responsible, but Mr Daly, you sure are. I'd have more respect for your words if you had said that.

    October 21, 2010 at 1:10 pm |
  19. Mike

    There are a few logical faults in this piece: First, it oversimplifies the logical conclusion. It's not that gays get bullying = Christians are to blame. It's that gays are condemned to die in the Bible = Christians do not think of gays of having valid lifestyles = people think it's okay to treat gays as inferior. Second, the writer goes back on his own logic. He stated that some Christians think of some sins as "supersins". This leads to an inferred explanation of why some Christians "mistakenly" bully gays. Then he says that nonbelievers are the only ones who mistakenly apply the tenants that correct this misunderstanding. Third, he claims that all sins are equal, but does not explain then why Christians support leaving some sins supported by law (like divorce), while making other sins illegal (like gay marriage).

    October 21, 2010 at 1:08 pm |
    • Robert

      Mike, there isn't such a thing as a "super sin" (except for the sin against the holy spirit but that's a whole different topic). However, I was once told that the 10 commandments are actually in "order of importance". It's interesting to note then that you have "murdering" as being less grave than "putting God first". But if you think about it, if you truly understood the nature of God, how could you murder, lie, steal, etc ... Now your third point is really interesting, a similar dilema was posed to Jesus and he replied in Mathew 19 verses 4-9. basically that divorce was never ok but Moses had to compromise at one point

      October 22, 2010 at 12:29 am |
  20. MaxFromNY

    Mr. Daly – Your euphemistic use of the word "bully" is quite a slight of hand. A bully is someone who beats you up if you don't hand over your lunch money, or calls you four-eyes because you wear dorky glasses. By calling people who use violence to terrorize social minorities "bullies," you do a great job at minimizing the severity of their actions. Sadly, ignorant of scripture as many of these folks may be, it is their ignorant reading of scripture that informs their bigoted ideas, and for that, Christianity owes some blame. It's just like, I presume, you blame Islam for the violent acts perpetrated by those informed by ignorant readings of their scripture.

    October 21, 2010 at 1:08 pm |
    • Corey

      It's ignorance to blame any religion for the acts of extremists. On this, Whoopi Goldberg & I agree. Islam is not to blame for acts of violence. Unfortunately, lack of education & trust in unworthy, misleading clergy is often the root of a religious intolerance. That said, since you asked the question, Max, I wonder if most of the people on here ridiculing Christianity feel that Islam is to blame for 9/11 or other Jihadist attacks...or, do you only blame Christianity because it is the popular thing to do? I would argue that the tenets of all major religions are not why we hurt and kill each other.

      I used to be more close-minded toward others (and, to be honest, still have my short-comings). However, as a gained an understanding of my faith, I gained understanding and acceptance of others. If we do not continually try to improve ourselves and those around us, we languish and it becomes easier to magnify other people's "faults" in order to make ours feel more insignificant.

      We, as Americans, need to stop blaming Islam for the acts of a relative few morons who got the Quran wrong. We, as a people, need to stop blaming Christianity for all the world's woes. Christianity is not the only religion to be used to persecute others. In fact, it's far more acceptable for anyone to persecute a Christian than it is for a Christian to persecute someone with or without another faith...as many have shown here.

      October 21, 2010 at 1:47 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.