Here are some characteristics of a bully:
- Lacks empathy for others.
- Needs to control others.
- Gets angry quickly.
- Constantly reminds others of their weaknesses.
- Picks on those who don’t comply to his expectations.
- Makes others afraid through threats.
- Uses physical aggression to intimidate and control.
- Defies any who would share or correct his power.
We’ve probably all been bullied. It is a popular sport in school. When our kids encountered bullying, we would ask these questions:
- Does he scare you?
- Does he make you cry?
- Does he embarrass you?
- Does he make you feel weak?
- Does he make you do things you don’t want?
- Does he exclude you from groups?
- Does he make you feel there is no one to go to for help?
- Does he make your life miserable?
Unfortunately, many people believe God is like this. But it is cloaked in religious language that justifies it. So instead of God being called a bully, we say his judgements are indisputable, unchangeable and everlasting; he is better than us, high and lifted up, all powerful and holy; he is disappointed or sorrowful or angry about our sin; he constantly convicts us by the Holy Spirit; he sends us suffering in order to teach us, discipline us and inevitably bring us in line with his ways; and he threatens us with exclusion from him and his group now or forever in Hell unless we repent and straighten up.
Sounds biblical, doesn’t it? And if God is like this, no wonder some Christians and church leaders feel their bullying behavior is okay! And no wonder some Christians feel it’s okay to be bullied!
We should reexamine these doctrines in light of the contemporary and necessary studies of bullying. A God of love cannot be a bully.
If you are being bullied in school or know someone who is, please call Kids Help Phone.