Given Christ’s teaching on loving our neighbors, you would think Christian organizations would support a movement to stop bullying. On April 10th, however, Focus on the Family declared a “Day of Dialogue” for students in public schools in response to GLSEN’s (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network) “Day of Silence” on April 11th. The day of dialogue is meant to encourage “student-initiated conversations about the fact that God cares about our lives, our relationships and our sexuality.”
GLSEN describes the Day of Silence as “a student-led national event that brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools. Students from middle school to college take a vow of silence in an effort to encourage schools and classmates to address the problem of anti-LGBT behavior by illustrating the silencing effect of bullying and harassment on LGBT students and those perceived to be LGBT.”
As a part of the Day of Dialogue, Focus on the Family states why it is important to participate: “As a Christian student, you have an opportunity to be a voice of hope in your school—you and your friends can really make the difference in changing a culture of bullying on campus.”
Is this not the same concept in the Day of Silence – standing up for the marginalized? The Day of Silence was designed to draw attention to the fact that people aren’t listening to the bullied. By refusing to participate in the Day of Silence and instead calling for a day of their own, Focus on Family have reinforced the perception that they have joined the ranks of those who refuse to listen and missed a real opportunity to demonstrate Christ-likeness.
Focus on the Family fears that if they stand with homosexuals, people will wrongly assume they approve of homosexuality. Jesus was also accused of associating with those whose lifestyles He condemned in His preaching: “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’” (Matthew 11:19). Jesus was not worried that He was associated with those who do not practice righteousness. Jesus warned those who judged Him that His actions would reveal more than what they observed in that moment. His entire life revealed He was on a mission to redeem sinful people to Himself by paying the ultimate sacrifice. He lived among sinful people to offer them life eternal: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”(John 3:17)
In another instance Jesus was at the home of Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7). Simon, in his heart, judged Jesus for allowing a sinful woman to wash His feet without rebuking her for her lifestyle. Jesus did not even address the woman, but addressed Simon. It was Simon’s heart Jesus chose to rebuke, not the woman. Jesus willingly “aligned” with this woman because she was doing a noble thing. In that moment, he didn’t feel the need for a disclaimer about how He disapproved of her lifestyle.
In the end, the “Day of Dialogue” is a needless and arbitrary disclaimer that serves for many as evidence that they are not being heard. It satisfies those within the church, but few others.
We shouldn’t fear that joining with those living expressly non-Christian lifestyles will malign our witness. The grace that Jesus offered the marginalized was scandalous. Demonstrating the love of Christ to the world requires that we value the voices of the marginalized more than we fear the accusations of our brothers and sisters in Christ.