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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. Lydia

    So, Kelly, all the people that bullied you all your lives, were just Christians,huh? God is a monster? Thats pretty shallow in itself, don't you think? Probably not. But thats ok.
    I think it is your own choice not to bow down to God, (even though he says every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess) if thats what you want.
    I don't understand how you people want the rules changed, because you claim you were born the way you are. Even if you were, do you have to follow thru?
    If a person feels he was born to be a thief, cause he could not stop stealing, should the rules be changed to accommadate thieves? Should it be ok to steak whatever you want, and not pay a price?
    What about Aids, does that matter to you? Not all gays stay with gays.
    Jusy remember who chose to stay in the game, when the day is over.

    November 1, 2010 at 7:44 pm |
    • Kelly Garrett

      Thanks, you just made my point.

      November 2, 2010 at 12:05 am |
    • Peace2All

      @Lydia

      That is some of the most ri-d-iculous christian right-wing zealotry I have heard. Biblical non-sense.

      You are one of the reasons that the 'hate' continues towards gays/lesbians. Knock it off.... You are no spokesperson for God.

      Become part of the solution and help others instead of continuing to be fueling the problem.

      November 2, 2010 at 12:11 am |
    • Kelly Garrett

      @Peace2All,

      She cannot help it, that is the foundation of her faith. My point was, we have no intention of changing THEIR rules. She has every right to think her way is the only way, because the bible tells her that. Christians cannot be part of the solution, because they are the problem. Christians have their transcendent moment when they die in their christ...that is a very profound experience. Most Gays have their transcendent moment when their christ dies in us, and we are free to find a god that does care. Theirs is not the only god out there. Most of us have our own, personal god...and a community in fellowship that is capable of holding all, not just the elite. That fellowship started first amongst just us, but now includes a good part of non-christian humanity. Their exclusion from that fellowship was not our choice, it was theirs.

      November 2, 2010 at 12:31 am |
  2. Ronald

    Please, Christianity isn't a part of the problem. best said would be not all sects but when it comes to conservative christianity, gays and abortion tops their list of evil and bad. funny how, according to their belief, no sin is greater than another but ask them gays and abortion are the worst. Uh huh, cafeteria...pick and choose what you want to gripe about. The only ones deluded are the self professed Christians who..."aren't a part of the problem" and have a degree level of "sin".

    October 31, 2010 at 12:21 am |
  3. Anita

    Yes, "Christians" have committed atrocities against other religious and non-religious people. However, atheists have committed far more atrocities than all religious groups combined. Even so, the key factor in these atrocities has been totalitarian power, rather than religion, which has resulted in these hundreds of millions of murders. The Bible says that people are evil (and the statistics on this page support this claim), but that they can become transformed through the power of the Holy Spirit to live lives of love, joy and peace.
    Murders by Atheists (20th Century) Country Dates Murders
    Afghanistan 1978–1992 1,750,000
    Albania 1944–1985 100,000
    Angola 1975–2002 125,000
    Bulgaria 1944–1989 222,000
    China/PRC 1923–2007 76,702,000
    Cuba 1959–1992 73,000
    Czechoslovakia 1948–1968 65,000
    Ethiopia 1974–1991 1,343,610
    France 1793–1794 40,000
    Greece 1946–1949 20,000
    Hungary 1948–1989 27,000
    Kampuchea/Cambodia 1973–1991 2,627,000
    Laos 1975–2007 93,000
    Mongolia 1926–2007 100,000
    Mozambique 1975–1990 118,000
    North Korea 1948–2007 3,163,000
    Poland 1945–1948 1,607,000
    Romania 1948–1987 438,000
    Spain (Republic) 1936–1939 102,000
    U.S.S.R. 1917–1987 61,911,000
    Vietnam 1945–2007 1,670,000
    Yugoslavia 1944–1980 1,072,000

    --------------------------–

    October 26, 2010 at 8:29 pm |
  4. usmcvet

    Focus-On-The-Family should be wiped from the face of the earth like the rest of the lying christian hypocrites!

    October 25, 2010 at 11:12 pm |
  5. Daisy Díaz

    Thanks to CNN for including such an important article and accurate position of Christians in general.

    October 24, 2010 at 1:27 am |
  6. Michael Fleicher

    As an openly gay man, I know personally that Christians frequently use the Bible to promote intolerance and hatred of gays in our society. If anyone disagrees then just spend some time checking out some of the forums on the subject. The vast majority of those posting against gays use biblical references to do so. They use religion as a weapon to condem and judge others whom they have never met, and incite others to follow suit. Luckily these kinds of Christians are now in the minority, as more and more are beginning to see just how damaging and hurtful their actions and words are to gays.

    October 23, 2010 at 5:17 pm |
  7. JohnQuest

    Frank, and the difference between that and Right Wing Neo-Conservatives Rebubs are what exactly?

    October 22, 2010 at 10:30 am |
  8. brad

    I grew up in a Catholic church in the Bible belt in the 1960's. Never, ever, did I hear any priest, monk, or nun say anything against g*ays, black people, or any other "minority". I learned no ideas about women being inferior. In college, I had a room mate with whom I became a good friend. After three years he told me he was gay. He really suffered under it and never mentioned being "wrong" with God because of it. He never mentioned being persecuted. We remained friends.

    The modus operendi for the enemies of Christianity seems to be this: you've made up your mind to hate the church, you have to be very careful what information you accept. Get it from other church haters, or the media. But for God's sake, don't step into a church. You might be in danger of finding out what really is going on.

    October 22, 2010 at 10:04 am |
  9. Nothing

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1308599/Stephen-Hawking-wrong-You-explain-universe-God.html

    October 22, 2010 at 8:07 am |
  10. Nothing

    In his new book, Hawking claims that the reason the universe needs no creator is due to a "new theory" called M-theory (where "M" stands for "membrane," or just "m," or "murky" or "missing"1 depending upon one's particular version of the theory). Originally promoted as "superstring" theory 20 years ago, it has evolved from "strings" to "membranes," although all forms of the theory propose extra dimensions (11, in fact). However, M-theory is no single theory, but, rather, a number of theories through which one may obtain just about anything one wants. How one can test such a nebulous set of theories, which "predict" just about anything and everything, seems to be a problem.

    The nature of the universe requires that membranes from M-theory, if they exist at all, must be on the order of Planck length (10–33 cm). Such a size is way less than microscopic or even well below subatomic particle sizes. In order to confirm such objects, one would need an accelerator on the order of 6,000,000,000,000,000 miles in cir=cu=m=ference.2 It would seem likely, therefore, that confirmation of M-theory, based upon observable data, is impossible. Do such a set of theories that predict everything and anything and are not t=es=table through observational data really fall within the realm of science?

    Stephen Hawking says that the laws of physics guarantee that the universe can be created from nothing. The question he never answered was why those laws of physics exist? Although it is possible for things such as particles to pop into existence from "nothing," it has never been shown that non-quantum-sized objects can perform such feats. Even if it were possible, why would it be expected that laws of physics that allow such events to occur would actually exist. Why wouldn't a true nothing consist of no laws of physics and no possibility of anything popping into existence

    So, Stephen Hawking wants us to believe that a nebulous set of theories, which cannot be confirmed through observational data, absolutely establishes that an infinite number of diverse universes exist, having been created from laws of physics that just happen to allow this. John Horgan, a fellow atheist, says that the popularity of M-theory is the result of "stubborn refusal of enthusiasts to abandon their faith."3 Is it not more likely that a super-intelligent, powerful Being invented the laws of physics that produced the universe? Skeptics always ask, "Who created God?" Maybe they already have the answer to that question – Nothing! After all, they seem to think that nothing is a powerful force for creating things!

    October 22, 2010 at 8:03 am |
  11. Zirconia

    SATATISTICS OF DEMOCIDE
    http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/NOTE5.HTM

    October 22, 2010 at 7:53 am |
  12. Zirconia

    TABLE 3.1
    Selected Pre-20th Century De=mo=cide and Totals1

    --------------------------–

    Cases Years2 D=em=ocide3 Religious?

    --------------------------–

    China 221 B.C.-19 C. 33,519,0004 No
    Mon=gols 14 C-15 C 29,927,000 No
    Sla=very of Afr=icans 1451-1870 17,267,000 No
    Amer-Ind=ians 16 C-19 C 13,778,000 No
    Thirty Years War 1618-1648 5,750,000 No
    In India 13 C-1 9 C 4,511,0005 No
    In Iran 5 C-19 C 2,000,0004,5 No
    Ottoman Empire 12 C-19 C 2,000,0005 No
    In Ja=pan 1570-19 C 1,500,0005 No
    In Russia 10 C-19 C 1,007,0005 No
    Christian Crusades 1095-1272 1,000,000 Yes
    Aztecs Centuries 1,000,0006 Yes
    Spanish Inquisition 16 C-18 C 350,000 Yes
    French Revo=lution 1793-1794 263,000 No
    Albig=ensian Crusade 1208-1249 200,000 Yes
    Wi=tch Hunts 15 C-17 C 100,000 Yes

    --------------------------–

    Total For All Cases pre-20 C 133,147,000 2,650,000
    Hypothe=tical Total 30 C B.C.-19 C A.D. 625,716,0007

    --------------------------–

    International war-related dead 30 C B.C.-19 C A.D. 40,457,0008
    Pla=gue d=e=a=d (B=la=ck De=ath) 541 A.D.-1912 102,070,0009

    October 22, 2010 at 7:49 am |
  13. SOTBchurch

    testing

    October 22, 2010 at 6:24 am |
  14. SOTBchurch

    Those SOTB christians should go to hell. You spread hatred and you have blood of poor gay kids on your bloody hands!

    October 22, 2010 at 6:22 am |
  15. Melt down

    Wrong made to look right.

    Right made to look wrong.

    Blaming Christiany for the deaths of certian behaviors is ridiclious, the general population doesn't care for that type of behavior . Just the media and the far left look what happened in California when people were alloud to vote on the subject.

    Other nations around the world are not letting the common person vote on that life style they instead are letting judges and or political figures to address it for the entire nation. WHY? DO YOU REALLY KNOW THE ANSWER ITS NOT HARD TO FINE, ITS NOT POLITICAL CORRECT BUT ITS BIBICAL CORRECT.

    October 22, 2010 at 3:49 am |
  16. Reality

    And Dobson pays J. Daly $250,000/year to spew this stuff!!! guidestar.org

    October 22, 2010 at 12:49 am |
  17. Lenny Pincus

    After reading much of the Old Testament–let's not forget that if a woman doesn't bleed on her wedding night, she should be stoned to death–one has to wonder about these guys who thought they were God's ground crew. And after reading a good amount of Focus on the Family's musings, I see not much has changed.

    October 22, 2010 at 12:20 am |
  18. Morgan

    Christianity is not to blame? Tell that to Fred Phelps and his band of merry Christians!

    October 21, 2010 at 11:37 pm |
  19. vincentdowd

    Looks like CNN picks and chooses which posts they will allow. So I will make this short and see if they post it. Again Watch the movie "For The Bible Tells Me So" FOF has hurt a lot of people with words as daggars that make kids think because they are GAY they are NOT right, broken, need a fixing. I was one of them and carried on for 14 years of real HELL trying to fix what was not broken. No wonder kids kill themselves when FOF and the bullies in the pulpit and congress say GAY is wrong. They are wrong and out of touch, we will overcome. Love will find a place and FOF needs to focus on LOVE and not being the judge of what is good or bad, right or wrong based on partial and ancient texts. The fruit on the tree is not ripe

    October 21, 2010 at 11:10 pm |
  20. jojo2

    Its Gods postion to judge look at Gen 19, I think we think we have to do tat to but nothing in the Bible commands that form us.

    October 21, 2010 at 10:48 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.