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. Doug

    I most definately support gay marriage, as it is beyond silly to think that one can make themselves gay. We may be on our way to a 180 of Saudi Arabia, as the seeds of this have been planted, any man who has been in a court over a divorse, made up story, or custody battle can contest to, but I still don't think that people will choose gay just for the special rights or the equality in the mentioned situations.

    However, once gay marriage is legal, then Democrats will force churches to marry gay couples, that I cannot support since this thing called the first amendment has a part in it called freedom of religion.

    I know Democrats see that as a right that Christians are "clinging to", and wish to pry in from their hands and destroy it.

    October 21, 2010 at 3:52 pm |
  2. PJ

    I grew up in the Catholic School system in Europe and even though most of my teachers were probably gay (yes, I was hit on and it was covered up) and our Pope at that time as now most likely very gay....to come out publically would have meant extreme bullying and expulsion after I was beaten up. As for the Fundamentalists.....I don't consider them Christian at all.

    October 21, 2010 at 3:32 pm |
  3. baptist_deacon

    What are you going to do next, put me in prison for saying g a y s e x is a sin? The Bible does not avocate bullying in any way shape or form. Bullying is not taught in Churches. G a y s e x is rarely mentioned at all, and I've been going to conservative churches for 30+ years! We do not condone hating on anybody, no matter what they are doing! We believe EVERYONE is a sinner and the payment is the same, whether you are talking about telling a "white" lie or commiting g a y s e x acts. If these people who are bullying g a y would listen in church (if they go at all) they would not continue to bully anyone because we think bullying is a SIN. It is intelectually dishoest to say these bullies are being motivated by christianty! There is NO connection.

    October 21, 2010 at 3:30 pm |
  4. Doug

    No Republican president has ever shown hate against any gay person.

    However the current DEMOCRAT PRESIDENT said about CHRISTIANS "They cling to their guns and religion".

    As for violence, yeah Obama telling all the Democrats to put their boots on the necks of their opposition was so tolerant, now imagine if Bush said such a hateful thing.

    October 21, 2010 at 3:27 pm |
  5. sjohn

    Bubba, you picked two of the exceptions. Majority of them don't turn out that way. Especially if it is a newborn baby with the illness.
    I agree with you that all should live, because of the value of a person. how would you make that moral judgment if we are doing a "survival of the fittest" analysis?

    October 21, 2010 at 3:17 pm |
  6. josei

    My prior post, which was actually posted at 2:23 and 3 friends read it is now gone.
    Will CNN leave it alone or does the original writer have control to delete?

    I am in agreement w/ Mr. Daly and his qouting Romans. We all have fallen short. We all need to ask for forgiveness. It is not right to blame all of Christianity for gay bullying. It is just a few, loud, vocal few that scream we are bad people. Why? Because I didn't wake this morning and say, "I think I'll be straight today." But, these people ("Christians" in qoutes to differentiate them from actual Christians.) can make a decision to persecute people, bully them, hate them and try to make them feel less of a person because of how God made them? This is not Christianity. If these "Christians" really cared (and those that blindly follow without reading the bible and thinking for themsleves) then they would put their energy into finding loving homes for all orphans, helping stamp out poverty/hunger/abuse and praying/working that we can find cures for cancer and AIDS that have taken loved ones from all of us.

    When I have asked these "Christians", 'Are you a Christian if you are persecuting people/being mean to people on earth or are you one that tries to show love and understanding to others that are not the same as you.' I get the answer that, "we [they] are showing us tough love." Really now!?! If Jesus showed that same mean spirit would you now be following His way. I think not.

    The 10 Commandments state:
    1) I am your only God;
    2)prohibit worship of other gods before the Lord, and the making or worshiping idols;
    3) threaten punishment for those who reject the Lord and promise love for those who love him;
    4)forbid misuse of the Lord's name;
    5)mandate observance of the Sabbath and honoring one's parents;
    6) prohibit murder,
    7) no adultery,
    8) no theft,
    9) no false testimony, and
    10) coveting of one's neighbor's goods.

    Now, please show me where in here that it says, "No Gay." But, "wait!" You say, "It falls under adultery." Maybe, but if I am dating someone and only being with that one, then it really doesn't fall under adultery, now does it? It does? So why is your hatred not towards thsoe straight Christians who had pre-marital/adulterous relations? It seems they are sinning, but yet no public bullying of them is occuring. Hmmm

    Are you "Christians" also saying that God did not make us ALL in His image? Now, I was pretty young (what a few seconds old at the time, but still), but don't remember asking God to make me have the feelings I have so I can have "Christians" try to put me down and bully me.

    Do you remember asking God to make you straight? Or at least, not Gay, because you are not strong enough of a person with God?

    Oh, you want to bring up Sodom and Gomorrah? Fine. Do you think it was only what your dirty mind is thinking of? Really now. How about not praying to God, having false gods, idols, raping pillaging, coveting, theft, married men w boys/girls (and the flip), animals, you name it. Now, for a second look at what I listed. Doesn't this look like the 10 commandments? Interesting, yes?

    Oh, but now you want to state in the Old Testament that God said men shall not lie with men, etc. Okay, let's go with this one. Was it God or a human leader at the time? No one knows for sure. Even if it was with God have you read the scriptures before and after it (I don't mean just a James King version of the Bible, but the scriptures.) to see what was going on? It was in the Old Testament and it is not a 10 commandment. Now it gets more interesting....

    So, to summarize the "Chirstians." You "Christians" like to bring up the Old Testatment and tell us non-straight people (or Christians who do love us) that we are sinning and qoute Sodom & Gomorrah. Right? You do this a lot.
    This means that you are also telling the rest of the world that you are card carrying slave owners & beat your daughters and wives every day. Wow! I mean WOW!

    If you "Christians" stopped trying to put people in boxes then your world would grow exponetially. You would see al the love and color that God meant for us to see. You would bask in His love, and in turn, love others freely (not that way! Jeez!) and openly. Could you image what we could , what we will, accomplish in a world like this?

    I can. People who know me, well, know me, love me, respect me. These are Christians, from varrying faiths, etc. – straight and gay. They are friends from elementary school all the way up through my life. They are my parents and family members. They are also people at the stores/resturaunts/etc that applaud the way I handle nasty situations.

    One final question for all. If you love God (insert his/her name here based on your faith), believe in God & feel love from God, then why would you not go out into each day and (being like God) show love to others?

    October 21, 2010 at 3:07 pm |
  7. MJ

    Hey Doug, can you cite the names of conservative children who committed suicide as the result of 'liberal bullying"?

    Conservatives tend to get hysterical and cry victim when they are met with disagreement, no matter how civil, but the guns they pull are on those who disagree with them, not themselves

    October 21, 2010 at 3:06 pm |
  8. Magic

    Notice to Religionists:

    You have had a couple of thousand years to deal with issues like this. Some of you have adapted to civilized behavior; many have not.

    Now, it seems it is time for rational, logical, secular tactics to tackle this, with immediate, temporal consequences. No, "Oh, I have sinned by being a bully... 'God' will eventually forgive me". Next time, same, same - over and over.

    Practical anti-bully social consequences, and perhaps even legal ones, need to step to the fore.

    October 21, 2010 at 3:04 pm |
  9. Sophie

    The problem with religion is that Christians like to pick and choose which passages they want to turn into the "pure evil" type of mortal sin or "abomination" and the "white lies" and inconvenient "keep Sabbath Holy" stuff. Muslim extremist do the same when they become suicide bombers or stone women "in the name of God", because the Koran has some explanation that defends them treating others like they are inferior or "infidels". Either we do everything as the bible (or whatever book we follow) says or we understand that we must view the bible in the context in which it was written, a book written 2,000 years ago by men.

    October 21, 2010 at 3:00 pm |
  10. QS

    Oh thank goodness for religious hypocrisy and false belief in moral superiority....where else can I always count on a good laugh for the day to cheer me up!?

    October 21, 2010 at 3:00 pm |
  11. ART

    Unfortunately religion today has become intolerant and devisive and I do think they have alot to do with what is going on today.. It definately is a backlash to the spewing of hatred and intolerance from the pulpit, It's not the only reason but it sure doesn't help. Can we all just get along

    October 21, 2010 at 2:59 pm |
  12. Ithink

    People are making the article speak in a conversation it wasn't intended for. But that's my opinion, and we all know Xians are illogical creatures, right?

    October 21, 2010 at 2:57 pm |
  13. ummmmmm.No

    This from the article:

    "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."

    This from his website:

    "God created marriage as a loyal partnership between one man and one woman."

    Sounds like hipocrisy to me. "No person is superior or inferior to any other, but of you are gay you can't get married."

    This guy is a snake-oil salesman.

    October 21, 2010 at 2:56 pm |
  14. no longer gay-born again

    it was a good report. The new emerging church in touch with today does not preach hate. The bible does teach us to hate sin because God hates sin. Its the spirit of religions that is the sin of PRIDE, Self Idolatry. We are to hate sin but not the sinner ...even the saints sin. only Christ was perfect and sinless . Even He was tempted as we All are tempted. Temptation is not sin its acting out that thought that manifest sin. Our emotions will always lie to us but this one truth is the solution Luke 10:27
    And Christ answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

    October 21, 2010 at 2:56 pm |
  15. Bubba

    Christians never bully anyone? It's a sweet, innocent idea, and completely insane. Every prison is full of murderous Christians, rapist Christians, dishonest Christians, and if you drop the soap a Christian will #### you in the ###. But thanks for playing, try again sometime!

    October 21, 2010 at 2:55 pm |
  16. Rita

    Why are so many of you so filled with hatred?

    October 21, 2010 at 2:55 pm |
  17. Ben Wilson

    You must have been a bad student if after 15 years of studying religion that is what you came up with. Where did you study religion–Jr. college

    October 21, 2010 at 2:53 pm |
    • James

      dude your rude

      October 21, 2010 at 3:02 pm |
    • capnjammer

      Is that meant for me? Because if so, watch out. I studied religion from many well-respected and accredited universities. The most important thing is that I studied it from a neutral perspective. If you studied it yourself, rather than having your head shoved up firmly betwixt your buttocks and the buttocks of whomever you call a "man of God," you would come to the exact same conclusion as I did.

      October 21, 2010 at 3:21 pm |
  18. LD

    I think that upset commenters and the Columnist both have excellent points.

    Kate is stating that, by already judging people who have no choice but to be gay, it doesn't matter how good your intentions are, as you have already developed your construct of who is a lesser person.

    The christian columnist is condoning what his fellow christians-but-not are doing, which is great, but isn't doing much to get the message across to gay children that they are no worse off than a regular joe who sleeps with someone not his wife in the eyes on God, and that they're ok and fine and just as loved as the rest of us. Sadly, it's hard to get across because he spends most of his time explaining why it's not their fault, it's the gay's fault which makes no sense.

    I just want to say, I like everyone, regardless of your race, religion, orientation or what. I just get irritated when people think they know everything, when they haven't spent the time to study or learn what's different from them.


    October 21, 2010 at 2:52 pm |
  19. Rita

    There sure are a lot of hateful people posting on here.

    October 21, 2010 at 2:51 pm |
  20. Edmund

    Focus on the Family is the biggest group of in-the-closet-christians in this country. It's completely obvious. I personally know a few of their employees.
    The religious are incarcerated by fear of a primitive, illogical, stone-age bearded white man who sits on a throne and lives in the clouds. Believe in yourself, believe in love and believe in humanity.

    October 21, 2010 at 2:51 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.