Sticks and Stones: Episode 277

Sticks and Stones: Episode 277

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Listen to this week's show!

Roundtable: Were You Bullied?

For those who were bullied as kids, we know that the effects go far beyond childhood. This week’s guests share the way the lies they heard impacted their identities and relationships, and how God continues to heal them as they trust Him daily.

Culture: Follow the Rabbi

If you’ve ever seen one of Focus on the Family’s That the World May Know videos, you know that host Ray Vander Laan has a way of making the Bible come alive. What has he learned about discipleship from walking in the footsteps of Jesus?  What site in the Holy Land holds the most personal meaning to him? What does he think today’s Christians just don’t get about the Bible? Get the answers in this week’s interview.

Inbox: Love Your LGBT Neighbor

It’s hard enough to love those who share our views and principles. But what about those who disagree? What about our homosexual neighbors and friends? How do we love the LGBT community while standing firm on biblical truth about the subject? Counselor Geremy Keeton offers insight.

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  • I admit I jumped straight to the inbox question... and I hope/request that you'll have a roundtable discussion about it soon (it really is a pressing issue now) as several minutes just isn't enough.  For myself, the most significant eye opener and growing experience has been having LGBT coworkers.(all my jobs, since I was 18)  Nothing will impact you more imo, as you spend so many hours (more than anyone else other than your spouse) with them.  Doesn't change my core beliefs, but it's made a world of difference with my personal maturity and relationship skills.  It's something I wish more believers showed, but I have the benefit of living in an area (Seattle) where this is not an uncommon thing.  

  • James79: Yes. There is a HUGE difference between talking with a believer whose only experience with homosexuals is sermons on them and who sees them as a non-personal "agenda", and someone who actually knows and sees gays as people (which they are).

    Re: Being Bullied. I was severely bullied as a child in public school. Although I definitely experienced some shoddy treatment from the music teacher in early grades (as a kindergardener I still had a nervous thumb-sucking habbit, which apparently made me a "baby" in her opinion, and of couse, it is certainly OK to criticize an already nervous 5 year old in front of the peers she will have to deal with for the next 13 years), It started in earnest with fellow students around grade 3 and by the time I was in grade 4 it had escalated to the point where I was literally coming home with broken glasses and physical bruises. My mother had to start driving myself and my little sister to school because other kids on the bus would hit, punch, kick me and take my stuff and throw it out the bus windows. I was often bored in class because of the slow pace and so teachers would get frustrated with me as well, thinking that I was intentionally disrespecting them by working on homework for another subject during class lessons, or reading a book during class. On one particularly frustrating occasion, fellow students actually took my submitted work out of the submission box and threw it in the trash, even though we were able to recover the submission, I was punished for not submitting on time and the other students were never reprimanded, because even though I made consistant A's on my course work and loved to learn, I was a "bad" student (one teacher noted in a written missive to my parents that she never knew whether to hug me or shake me).

    Essentially, rather than stepping in and stopping the bullying, I (and my parents) was told the bullying was simply a part of growing up, and of course, that if I ignored it it would go away. I was in a small k-12 school system, so even transitioning from elementary to middle to high school did not mix up the kids who by grade 5 and 6 had made up their minds that I was fat, ugly and awful. There was an instance when we had a substitute teacher where nearly the entire class of kids grabbed chalk during "free time" and wrote derogatory messages and drawings about me all over the boards. The teacher did not care, did not discipline them, and when I literally crawled under my desk and cried *I* was written up in the note sent back to the full time teacher. On another occasion, I had inadvertantly left my bags in the cafeteria after a study hall... and the cheerleading practice afterward decided to close their chewed up gum into my books and notebooks. Although I only got into a handfull of fist fights (I think maybe one in the hall after school and once in the cafeteria), people would often grab my stuff and run off down the hall with it, whisper obscenities and mean comments to me as we passed in the halls, and generally made my life miserable.

    I did have a handful of teachers who offered me refuge -- my junior high English teacher was particularly helpful, opening up his classroom during lunch for the kids who would get bullied in the cafeteria. And by then, most of the teachers who had been around a while (read: not the ones straight out of college), appreciated my actual interest in the course material. Once I got to high school, I was also in a lot of advanced placement classes and study halls with upper classmen, which helped, because they sometimes struggled with the material and I was able to help explain it.

    It is worth noting that I never had these problems with teachers at church, other students at church, with my Piano instructor or with anyone I knew outside of the immediate school system. Finally, I availed myself of the option to take college classes at a local community college for high school credit, and suddenly I found myself not surrounded by other 14 year olds, but, often because I had to take night or weekend classes, by adults in their 30's and 40's who respected the chutzpah of a teen taking on a college course load. There were no "popularity" considerations because these people had jobs and families and real responsibility, so even though my Dad had to drive me to class, it didn't matter. As long as I was able to contributing meaningfully to the subject material, I was respected -- which was totally new to me. Ironically, this drew a new level of hatred from a number of the high school teachers who basically saw me availing myself of the program as "stealing" money from the school system and they strongly criticized that I was "missing out" on the "high school experience."

    Needless to say, when I actually graduated, I had a LOT of issues that needed to be worked out. Even though I'm a bit of an extrovert, my years of being marginalized had turned me into a wallflower. I was petrified by the idea of asking for help, because 1) nothing had ever been difficult for me academically and 2) on those occasions when I DID need assistance my requests for help were more often met with derision, annoyance and frustration by authority figures than actual help. I also had really, really, really unhealthy views of cross gendered relationships. Growing up in the midst of "true love waits" and "I kissed dating goodbye" fervor at church had stunted my cross-gendered emotional growth and my school grade was about 90% girls. Of the 10% that were boys, ALL of them were incredibly cruel to me. I literally cannot remember a single boy at school making a nice comment to me before college, not even something as innocuous as "I like your sweater". I was convinced that I was the ugliest girl in school (possibly of all time).  I was the "ugly comparison girl" that "No way, I'd rather date *Ashley* than do *insert unspeakably terrible high school social event* -- so when I got to college and suddently guys (_older_ guys, even) were interested in me I didn't have any idea what to do about it, so I just went with it. Also, computer science was HARD, and I needed help but didn't know how to ask, so for basically the first time ever, I failed hard at something.

    In the end, good parenting and God pulled me back around, and I'm now a succesful, rational adult. I hope that my bad school experience has made me a more compassionate and loving person, and I think that I am now better able to wait to hear both sides of the story before I make an assumption about who is right and who is wrong. I also really respect and encourage inquisitiveness in kids and young adults -- because I honestly think most of them are inviting learning, not trying to show disrespect. I also try to offer myself as a safe place for people who feel like they are living in an unsafe world. I think I am a more patient listener than I would otherwise have been. I am more prepared to deal with adversity and I generally have a thicker skin than most when it comes to the misplaced opinions of others about my character or beliefs. I try to promote to young women I know that they are beautiful, feminine, special and wonderful, even if they are getting constrasting messages elsewhere. I also try to challenge some of the sillyness I see when it comes to cross-gendered relationships in the church, because I know firsthand what throwing someone in the deep end will do. In the end, I think some of my experience being bullied has led to me being a better person today.

    But. My kids are starting martial arts YOUNG -- and they will learn how to flat knock a bully out before they turn 8 years old.

  • If you're going to love the LGBT community, you're going to need to do a couple of things. You'll need to recognize that opposition to homosexuality is not a core Christian belief. Christians can and do believe that homosexuality is no different than heterosexuality in the eyes of God. And you'll need to treat homosexuals the same way that you treat divorced persons. Nobody's going around saying that the divorced shouldn't be allowed to marry, that they shouldn't be allowed to raise children, that they aren't moral enough to be scout masters, that they are the same as pedophiles and those that practice bestiality. And when you are talking to a homosexual person you have to realize that by identifying as a Christian you are identifying as somebody who is a member of a group that is seen to be working to hurt the person that you are talking to. You can't get away with doing harmful things to homosexuals as a group and then expect the one homosexual person that you are talking with to ignore that and to enter into relationship.

  • MrsAshleyTOF - "But. My kids are starting martial arts YOUNG -- and they will learn how to flat knock a bully out before they turn 8 years old."

    I think that sentiment actually adds to the overall sadness of your story.  One of the insidious effects of long-term bullying is the notion that starts to develop that violence is an appropriate response, either because of actual experiences or fantasies about violent confrontations.  I imagine you probably know that this does not fit at all with Jesus's teaching regarding our enemies, but it is often difficult to apply that to issues that touch us so personally.

    Nemo -- While you are right about some of the things the more loud-mouthed Christian speakers do (comparisons to pedophilia and bestiality, for instance, are generally not very helpful), it is disingenuous to imply that it is a perfectly legitimate Christian viewpoint to think heterosexuality and homosexuality are equivalent.  That is very much a fringe Christian belief, and for good reason -- the Bible is pretty straightforward and clear in its condemnation of homosexual sex.  It takes a LOT of Scripture twisting to get around that.  There are a few that attempt that twisting, of course, but they are a very small, and generally not very Biblically serious, minority.

    Naturally, it is unpopular to say that in our current culture, and it may even stop some homosexuals from hearing a believer out any further.  But it does no good to pretend the Bible does not say what it does, or that God is different from who He is.

  • @PricklyPete, perhaps the permissive view of homosexuality is a fringe group among Christian where you live and in your congregation. But where I live and n the Church where I worship it's pretty much the majority. Whole denominations have been caught up in turmoil over this and that doesn't happen over a fringe view. To someone who doesn't like homosexuality it does seem that it takes twisting of scripture but to someone who is homosexual, or who is the tolerant type, it's pretty straight forward. And the Bible says a lot of things that we do twist ourselves around. It seems like twisting when it goes against our gut feeling but it seems just right when it is in line with them.

    The question at hand is how do we be in relationship with gay persons. If you're saying that the Bible condemns homosexuality and them then they are going to respond, "No it doesn't and so what if it does?" If you just dismiss that out of hand then you dismiss the person and there is no possibility of relationship.

  • Great podcast all around.  All the segments were excellent and very interesting.  I second the request to do a round table discussion on the inbox topic.  Would really love to hear a more in-depth discussion.

    I was bullied as a kid from elementary school all the way up to about 10th grade in high school, and even in my final high school years it wasn't completely gone.  And this bullying took place in mutliple schools in 3 different states so it wasn;t just staying with the same kids all through school.  I was teased for being "dorky", for being awkward and having difficulty socially (I have aspergers) for not being interested in or good at sports, for liking movies and shows that the other kids deemed stupid or babyish or "gay" (like Power Rangers, Pokemon, Sailor Moon, anime in general sometimes).  And I was also teased and accused of being gay quit often, mostly during 5th and 6th grade by one girl in particular.  In retrospect I think its actually possible that she might have had a crush on me, you know the whole "you tease the person you love" cliche, but I'm not sure.  She also knew I was a christian (we briefly went to the same church and attended a few church events at the same time) and sometimes used that against me.  She once told me "If Jesus met you he;d slap you.".  It got a lot better when she left, but there were still upper class men who would continue the teasing and name calling.  Even some of my friends teased me; there was one guy who could go from being kind of bullying and controlling to defending me from someone else, at the drop of a hat it seemed.  He was nice to me the majority of the time, but occasionally he'd go off on me l just like everyone else, and I sometimes wondered if maybe he was friends with me just so I'd be around him and keep him entertained.  After 9th grade I moved again, and things were pretty good from 10th to 12th.  There was still one kid in my class who was really mean and always putting me down, but either because I had matured or he was the only one, or the environment was different, but I was able to handle him a bit better.  Sometimes it was more like we were rivals than a "bully/victim" relationship, we were in a few of the same AP classes in 12th grade, and sometimes it seemed like we were competing (or at least he competed with me, I didn't really care that much) for high grades and stuff.

    I also have to admit here something I am ashamed of.  During 9th grade...I was also a bit of a bully to someone else.  There was a kid who joined our class that year that, for some reason, nearly EVERYONE in the entire school took a huge disliking to almost immediatly.  Students AND teachers.  Now I didn;t actually bully or tease him directly, I was actually the only kid who would really hang out with him or talk to him, and we had things in common (anime!).  But if I am honest I must say that I didn;t really like him that much (I didn;t hate him though) and every time I hung out with him, the next day I would be at the lunch table with the rest of the kids telling them all the things he might have said or done while we were together, laughing about him behind his back and giving the rest of the kids fuel for their direct teasing.  He was even a fellow christian too, which makes it even more awful.  I am ashamed to admit too, that even back then I felt bad about it, but there was a part of me that insisted that he *deserved* the bullying, because he was a jerk.   And in reality...he kind of was.  He came off as kind of arrogant and vain, and even misogynistic (he was *always* talking about girls he thought were hot, and bragging about watching porn and movies with nudity, and how much he enjoyed seeing nudity, etc.)  But that didn't excuse at all the teasing and torture the other kids put him through or my being complacent in it.

    I'm not sure if the teasing I went through had that many serious impacts on my later life though.  Even as a kid I never had the problem of telling people I was bullied, heck my parents and cousins might tell you I never shut up about my constant teasing.  There was one time in like 2nd or 3rd grade when I brought in a tape of bible songs that I was listening to on the bus, and I was really excited to share the tape with other kids in class, cause I liked it so much, but one of the first people I let listen to the tape immediately started making fun of me and yelling that I read the Bible and go to church, in a derogatory tone and manner.  And it really hurt me; I didn;t share the tape with anyone else that day and even was evasive if anyone asked me what tape I had.  At the time I didn't really have the concept that there were other people who weren't christian or didn;t go to church, and so never even expected to be made fun of for something like that.  And sadly I think that may have affected my willingness in my pre-teen and teen years to be as open about my faith as I could have been.  I would usually only mention stuff about my faith or church if someone else brought the topic up first.  Also, even though I had friends throughout my school career, as well as acquaintances who I didn;t hang out with but was still on friendly terms with, I rarely had any other kids stand up for me when I was being bullied.  And maybe that partially influenced my unwillingness to stand up for that kid in 9th grade who was also bullied.

  • Prickly Pete: Seriously? Jesus wasn't above flipping tables and cracking whips to make a point. I didn't say my kids needed to be heavy weight champions - but I can tell you that "living passively" and "setting a good example" just led to more bullying. Adults with the "Christian" attitude you describe only serve to exacerbate the problem. One of the benefits of martial arts is actually the discipline of learning when to walk away and not make it a fight - but if my kids get picked on, I want them to have the knowledge and resources they need to create an environment of deterrent. I only fought back when I was physically and emotionally pushed to breaking - because I'm as human as the next person. I want my kids to have a more disciplined approach to self defense than I did. Added bonus - fitness and being able to knock someone out in the event they are violently provoked means more peace of mind for Mom.

  • @Nemo:

    you stated "To someone who doesn't like homosexuality it does seem that it takes twisting of scripture but to someone who is homosexual, or who is the tolerant type, it's pretty straight forward.".  I am curious, could you explain how it is straight forward?  I'm not asking to be teasing or anything, I'm honestly curious.  I've read some books and stuff recently by Christians who are more accepting of homosexuality, but none of them really tried to address the scriptures directly, and just talked about it more from a sociological standpoint and emphasized "loving your neighbor" and not judging, so I would like to hear a more direct discussion about what the scripture actually says.

    "If you're saying that the Bible condemns homosexuality and them then they are going to respond, "No it doesn't and so what if it does?" If you just dismiss that out of hand then you dismiss the person and there is no possibility of relationship."

    I think the first part of that indicates a failing that the christian community has had in relating to this issue.  I actually *wouldn't* say that the bible condemns homosexuality AND *them*.  I believe that the Bible says that Homosexual behavior is a sin, but it doesn't condemn homosexual individuals anymore than it condemns any other person on earth who has made a mistake and sinned, which is everybody.  When homosexuals hear Christians say "homosexuality is a sin", they take it personally, they take it as if we were telling them "YOU are a sin, you are evil".  And sadly many many Christians currently and in the past have made it personal, treating homosexuals like they are diseased lepers, bullying them, putting them down, denying their human rights, etc. etc.  But that's not how any christian should act towards a homosexual individual at all.  I know its kind of an old cliche but "love the sinner, hate the sin".  That's the ideal.   Its not that such an ideal is impossible, but it seems like so many Christians over the years don't even understand how to practice that for real, and its caused huge damage in our ability to relate to homosexual individuals.   But...I also think its a problem from the homosexual side of things too.  I always hear homosexual people talk about how, if they denied their homosexuality, they would be "lying to themselves.  denying who they are", etc. etc.   But when did we get it into our heads that our sexual orientation defines us??  As individuals we are *more* than just what gender we happen to biologically become aroused by.  I do not believe that sexual orientation is the defining factor that influences your entire personality and being.  That just seems silly.  There are so many things in my life and who I am that are not related to what gender I happen to be aroused by.  So I kind of find it hard to understand why Homosexual individuals take it so personally to hear Christians say they believe homosexuality is a sin.  Forgive me for sounding a bit dismissive, but when a homosexual says not engaging in homosexual activity would be denying their self, there is honestly a part of me that thinks they are overreacting.  

    As for the rest of the sentence, if they told me "no it doesn't" I would have to tell them that I disagree, but as I mentioned earlier here, I am curious to hear a direct address of the scriptures by someone on the other side of the debate.  As for the final part of the question "so what if it does?" that part in particular would bother me if it came from a professing christian.  I can understand if a non christian homosexual does not give weight to holy scriptures that he does not believe in; but if a person who claimed to be a christian said "so what if the Bible condemns X or Y or Z?" that to me would indicate that that individual holds their own judgement and feelings higher than anything in God's word, and would make me wonder if that person really even genuinely desired to follow the Bible to begin with.    

  • MrsAshleyTOF - Of course seriously.  Jesus only responded that way when God's name was dishonored, never in response to how anyone treated Him.  His teaching is Matthew 5 is awfully straight-forward (it even directly addresses being "violently provoked").  It is, of course, incredibly counter to human nature and common wisdom, and therefore often very difficult, but it does not seem hard to see how it SHOULD apply to those kinds of situations.

    Nemo - "... but to someone who is homosexual, or who is the tolerant type, it's pretty straight forward."

    That may get at the core of the difference.  I see the Bible as authoritative, that it is to be the measure of our lives and behaviors.  So no matter what my personal desires are, or how tolerant I want to be, for me what it comes down to is what the Bible actually says.  If you meant by that there are straight-forward pro-homosexual interpretations of Romans 1, or 1 Corinthians 6, or 1 Timothy 1, then like Rocketshipper, I would love to hear them.  But my experience has been that the vast majority of those with that view do not seriously engage with the text, but rather have heard some vague explaining-away (along the lines of "Paul didn't mean ALL homosexuals, only temple prostitutes") that they accept because it fits with what they want to believe.  For those of us who see Scripture as authoritative, though, that is not an acceptable method.

  • @Rocketshipper, The word used in Leviticus refers to temple prostitutes. We know this because in Deuteronomy this section is clarified and while the KJV translated a word as homosexual the word actually means male temple prostitute. Sodom and Gomorrah is about gang rape and not about consensual same sex relationships. Romans is a little more interesting. Paul does not say that all homosexuals get that way because of idolatry. In fact, he may not be talking about homosexuals at all. He's talking about people who in the course of the pagan orgies have sex contrary to their natural desires. That would be straight men and women who are committing homosexual acts. (And by implication,gays and lesbians who perform heterosexual acts.) 1 Corinthians refers to temple prostitutes and is translated that way these days. 1 Timothy uses the word "arsenokoitai" and scholars aren't exactly sure what he meant. It's something bad and something sexual but if you are going to use it to prove that homosexuality is bad then you are cheating to choose to translate it as homosexual.

    All pretty simple and pretty straight forward. But your premise, that an argument has to be simple and straight forward to be believed, is a little non-standard. We don't judge the correctness of the Pythagorean Theorem by the number of steps the proof takes. I don't think that you mean that you find the arguments too long, but that you don't find them convincing. But convincing is a subjective thing. Some people need more convincing than others.

    Loving someone isn't something that you do, it's something that happens to you. It takes over your entire being and identity, If you are condemning someone because of who they love then you are condemning them because of who they are at the deepest level. This is one place where you just can't love the sinner but hate the sin. the sin isn't something that they do, it is something that they are.

  • @PricklyPete, Dan Savage got into a a little dust up over some rather strong, but completely colloquial, language he used in discussing Biblical interpretation. Putting it in more polite terms, he said that we should ignore the yucky stuff like what the Bible says about homosexuality being wrong and what the Bible says about slavery being right. A few young women stormed out of the room and Mr. Savage apologized for the strong words. But what was interesting to me was what one of the young women said to a reporter. What she objected to was his assertion that the Bible is pro-slavery.

    It has become a matter of piety to proclaim that we hold the Bible as authoritative so that when we hit a part of the Bible with which we disagree, we choose to not see it. We certainly don't tell our children that the Bible supports slavery. If pressed we come up with very twisted and troubling dodges--Biblical slavery was somehow different than slavery in the USA and slavery under the Roman occupation was a good and honorable way to order a society. And the sexism that is built into the laws there, especially the sexual laws is very unpleasant. Most of us, a few troglodytes excepted, believe that the sexism is a holdover from a different time and that we need to reinterpret the laws in light of the revelation that women are not less than men and are certainly not property. But if you do that, and you do believe that those laws condemn homosexuality then that same light that you are shining on other sexual purity laws you need to shine on this one.  

  • Great Podcast! I liked it!

    @Nemo

    I totally disagree that the Bible is pro-slavery. Jesus commands us to treat others as we would like to be treated, so unless I really would like to be a slave, I think it's wrong to own another person.

    As far as homosexuality goes, I think it's wrong. Romans says that because of idolatry God, Because of this, God, "Gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones." So because of their idolatry God allowed them to become homosexual which is clearly portrayed in a very negative light being that it is the consequence of their sin. Rocketshipper was right when he said that homosexuality is not a "greater" sin, it's just a sin. Sin is bad. Consequences of sin are bad. So merely from the Romans verse we can clearly see homosexuality is wrong.  

  • Prickly Pete: Children on the playground are not Jesus, Elisha once had a group of teens mauled by a bear for calling him bald head., I'm not saying I want my kids to start fights, but I definitely want them to know how to end them. Jesus's teachings are often not "difficult" but impossible for adults, even. Your shrugging attitude toward children in need of help and support in the name of God is worrisome.  Should we turn the other cheek? Certainly, but we only have two cheeks to give... When they go in for that third slap, go for the hay maker.

  • Nemo - "This is one place where you just can't love the sinner but hate the sin. the sin isn't something that they do, it is something that they are."

    That is a misunderstanding of what is condemned in Scripture.  What is condemned is homosexual ACTIONS (precisely what someone does), not attractions.  Your argument about slavery and sexism is more concerning though -- are you seriously proposing that we simply ignore any Scripture that we disagree with?  That because you disagree with one thing, you feel free to throw out other things?

    The temple prostitute / straight-people-acting-gay argument is a separate can of worms that needs more than a blog comment to address fully.  But I think anyone who reads the passages in question can immediately see how far-fetched it is.  There is no HINT that Paul is talking about a specific subset of people in any of the passages, and reading that into them is blatant eisegesis in support of a pre-formed conclusion.  It would be laughable if the gross mistreatment of Scripture weren't such a serious issue.

    I know that it seems like making the kind of concessions you are making is loving and enlightened.  But the fact is that God is holy, and if we don't allow Him and His word to have authority over our lives -- even, and ESPECIALLY, in the areas where we don't naturally want to obey -- then we do not truly love or serve Him.

  • "1 Corinthians refers to temple prostitutes and is translated that way these days."

    This may be getting overly contentious, but we probably shouldn't let those kind of false assertions stand.  What translation have you ever seen that does not translate 1 Corinthians 6:9 with homosexuality being condemned?  The NASB, ESV, NIV, RSV, ASV, NLT, Young's, etc. (literally every translation I could find) do.  What are the "these days" translations you are referring to that suddenly read the Greek as referring to temple prostitutes?

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