Golden Rule Pledge: How about something really different?

On April 17, 2008 thousands of high school and college students will attempt to remain silent during parts of the school day to bring awareness to bullying and harassment of gay, lesbian and bisexually identified students. In its 12th year, this student-run event, called the Day of Silence, is supported by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). Some social conservative groups have advised parents either to keep their children home or have them walk out if the Day of Silence is being observed. The groups advocating the boycott are concerned that the Day of Silence promotes homosexual behavior. However, to me, the strategy seems off the mark.

I know that many evangelicals feel conflict about an event like the Day of Silence. Despite moral misgivings about homosexuality, they loathe judgmental disrespect, harassment or violence toward any one, including their gay friends and neighbors. So even though there is dissonance, I think there is something wrong with not showing up.

Are we missing a teachable moment?

What if evangelical kids and college students led the way to make schools safe for all students? Where could we start? How about on the Day of Silence?

Without altering convictions about sexuality, I propose that evangelicals should have something more to contribute than a protest toward the elimination of hostility and aggression against gay people and other people who are viewed as different. Indeed, we should be leading the way to make schools safe and build bridges to those who often equate “Christian” with condemnation.

To pursue those bridges, Michael Frey, Western PA Director for College Ministries with Campus Crusade and I are promoting an alternative. We encourage Christian kids to demonstrate the grace of Christ by pledging to follow the Golden Rule in their interactions with all students. Last year, students in over 30 high schools and colleges participated by agreeing with GLBT peers to respect each other as Image bearers of God. Students distributed pledges to honor the teaching of Christ to love as He loved and to treat others as we want to be treated.

In the process, some bridges were built. For instance, a Christian group at Slippery Rock University entered a dialogue with a gay support group on campus and helped lead a call for respectful treatment of all students on campus. Randy Veccia, student leader, said the efforts of both groups served “to raise awareness that everyone deserves to be loved.” Christian students in high schools in Greensboro, NC reached out with Good News in unprecedented ways. On the campus of Appalachian State University, Christian students took part in anti-harassment activities alongside students from the GLB support groups on campus.

Rev. Bob Stith, Gender Issues Strategist for the Southern Baptist convention had this to say about the Golden Rule Pledge:

Several years ago I stood outside a church which was being picketed by two very vocal and rabid “Christian” groups. Also standing on the sidewalk were some young lesbians doing their own picketing. The first group became more and more vocal in their opposition and insults. They began telling the young women how despicable they were and how God despised them.

At that point I walked over and told the girls, “I am a Christian and I do believe the Bible says homosexual behavior is sin. But I want you to know what these people are saying is wrong. I want to apologize to you and tell God does love you very much. Don’t ever let anyone convince you He doesn’t.”

I have long thought Christians were missing a great opportunity by not being more vocal in helping to make our schools safe places for all kids. It doesn’t require that we compromise our beliefs. Indeed it can give us a great opportunity that we might not otherwise have.

What a wonderful opportunity to express our convictions in a way that is positive, loving and redemptive. What a wonderful opportunity to train our children to care about all people, to model the example of Jesus and the woman at the well.

Who knows but what this could even be the beginning of a movement that will turn the tide of school shootings and violence in the hallways?

I hope you are correct, Bob.

In most schools this year, the Day of Silence is slated for April 17. Students and leaders can learn more about the Golden Rule Pledge by going to the Golden Rule Pledge website: www.goldenrulepledge.com or contacting me at warrenthrockmorton@gmail.com.

  • Mary

    Being christians does not have to be the anti-thesis of all things gay. Why are so many christians bothered by the idea of protecting gay people?

  • Lynn David

    Mary wondered: Why are so many christians bothered by the idea of protecting gay people?

    Because the perverse lie that is at the heart of this demanded conflict by Christians is too strongly ingrained in their psyches.

    .

    The outright falsehoods that are propogated by the ultra-conservative religious side about the Day of Silence which have either led to a walkout or the supposed “Day of Truth” makes your job much more difficult with the Golden Rule Pledge. On the other other hand why cannot a Christian join in the Day of Silence? More to the point, is that the Day of Silence does not overtly support gays or lesbians or any agenda, what it does is simply point out the physical &/or mental/verbal abuse that gay or lesbian students or for that matter simply those who are perceived to be either gay or lesbian might endure at school, the playground, their church…. where’er.

  • Mary

    LD,

    I think christians are afraid.

  • Lynn David

    Yeah…. but what causes that fear. Is it the ‘lie’ or is it fear that their children may be homosexual, or is that the same thing? I think it all comes back to that perverse lie. But then you don’t have to be Christian to believe in the lie.

  • Debbie Thurman

    What exactly is the “perverse lie” you refer to, Lynn?

  • Ann

    Because the perverse lie that is at the heart of this demanded conflict by Christians is too strongly ingrained in their psyches.

    Lynn David,

    What is the perverse lie?

  • Debbie Thurman

    Warren, while Bob Stith has endorsed the GRP (as he explained it to me, because you told him it was an alternative to the AFA’s walkout, which he opposes), the statement above that you attribute to him was made long before your GRP was devised. That little story happened way back in 1999 at Thomas Road Baptist Church (I was there) when Soulforce and Mel White had their big media day, their first real public event. Bob was making a generic statement.

    You could have lifted something he said in the recent Baptist Press story. He had good things to say there about the GRP, but he also said in that article that he endorses the Day of Truth. Bob is anything but wishy washy, and he is very strong on speaking the truth in love. Nobody does it better, in my opinion.

    What you did by quoting him out of context was a bit dishonest, wouldn’t you say? You’ve done it in a variety of places online. If little white lies are okay with you, I’m concerned about what else might be okay.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    @Debbie Thurman:

    You have made a serious allegation here which is unfounded. Bob can contact me himself if he is concerned about the use of his statement. He gave that statement to me as I quoted it last year in response to the GRP. I did not lift from any source, he gave that to me to use.

    You need to retract your allegation of lying.

  • Debbie Thurman

    Warren, Bob did just now clarify with me that he told you to use that old quote in connection with his endorsement of the GRP. I humbly beg your forgiveness for implying otherwise. He does, of course, also endorse the Day of Truth, which would not be clear from what you wrote, and would seem to be a slight difference of opinion between you two. Bob also said he appreciated your coming to his defense when he misused a Francis Collins quote recently (in reference to the Human Genome Project). He said you said we must stand on the truth of Scripture, for which I, too, salute you.

    I know I have been very hard on you lately. We are witnessing a growing apostasy against the truth, so I suppose my radar is a bit overtuned. You know how I feel about those in positions of authority, especially teachers. You command a great deal of respect and have done many good things. I applaud those. Your balanced sex-ed school curriculum is one of them. I have quoted you a number of times in a positive light. But we also honestly disagree about some things. However, when I am wrong, I hope I can always admit it without hesitation.

    I will seek to be more careful in the future.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    @Debbie Thurman: Thanks for the quick retraction.

  • Mary

    LD,

    What is the perverse lie?

  • Debbie Thurman

    You are most welcome.

  • Lynn David

    Debbie Thurman… What exactly is the “perverse lie” you refer to, Lynn?

    .

    Ann…. What is the perverse lie?

    .

    Mary…. What is the perverse lie?

    I guess if you can’t figure it out for yourself then you’re too well invested in the lie.

    .

    Besides which, I’m surprised Warren let my posts stand as they were as they were a comment on religion. If I were to elaborate, he would surely not let that stand.

  • Ann

    I guess if you can’t figure it out for yourself then you’re too well invested in the lie.

    Lynn David,

    I guess I can assume a lot of different things but would prefer to know exactly what you are referring to so I can understand what you are saying. I can let you know if I am invested in the lie you accuse me of or not if I know what it is.

  • concerned

    The “preverse lie” is that SSA people are born that way and that nothing else influences the development of this attraction and that no ones attraction changes as a result of coming to a deeper understanding of these other influences.

  • David Blakeslee

    @Lynn David,

    Yeah, Warren is an oppressive censorist and you are lonely warrior for truth.

  • Mary

    I think the perverse lie is that homosexuals are bad and perverse. I don’t think so but I think christians teach that a lot.

  • Lynn David

    David Blakeslee …. Yeah, Warren is an oppressive censorist and you are lonely warrior for truth.

    Oh! A most interesting hypothesis that is simply bunk. Way back when…. 2 or more years ago, I stated my views as to how Abrahamic religions ended up with their homophobic attitude. Warren rather amicably stopped me; I agreed to his oversight. Now you want to hear what I was stopped from saying then? How?

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    Lynn David is correct, I did not want to get into a debate over religious beliefs. Lynn has had an interesting journey as have many of us and some have had deepened faith whereas others have not.

    I prefer to focus on the common ground where we can find it.

  • Mary

    I would lstill like to hear what he considers the perverse lie.

  • Ann

    I would lstill like to hear what he considers the perverse lie.

    Mary,

    I would too – if it is just about religion then his accusation about “investing in it” is incorrect for many people, including myself, but then again I will not know until he clarifies what it is.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    Personally I am more in a Kumbayah mood tonight :)

  • Ahmed Goldstein

    We shouldn’t to anything to encourage people to think that homosexuality is okay. It is unnatural, unhealthy, and leads to loneliness and early death. It is perfectly within the Golden Rule to point these things out, and to let people know that they can change. Many thousands of people have. How can people claim that homosexuals can’t change, when so many already have?!

  • David Blakeslee

    Warren…let’s hear Lynn David’s theories.

  • Jayhuck

    Yes – let’s :)

  • Jayhuck

    Lynn,

    I’m fairly certain your ideas aren’t without merit. Please talk about them at length

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