What kind of dialogue will we have?

Focus on the Family’s revised Day of Dialogue seems to be a kinder, gentler version of the former Day of Truth. On the new website, the group comes out strongly against bullying:

Any form of bullying and harassment of others is always wrong, including making fun of others, speaking down to them and saying things that hurt people. Christian students in particular should be bold in speaking up to oppose that kind of behavior because it goes completely against the model Christ gave us and that is reflected in Bible verses like these: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” John 3:16-17.

They also emphasize that any objections to homosexuality must be expressed in a respectful manner.

Any verbal and written expressions used by students participating in this event should be loving and compassionate—and never be expressed in a condemning or antagonistic way to others. Even when we disagree with others, we should always demonstrate the utmost compassion and respect for them.

While I appreciate this tone, I wonder what kind of dialogue the sponsors hope to create. Let’s set the stage for the proposed dialogue. The DoD is set to take place on Monday, April 18, 2010, the Monday after the Friday the Day of Silence is observed. On the Day of Silence, some students are silent during non-instructional time to dramatize the silence surrounding the harassment and bullying of students who identify as GLBT or those who are perceived to be a sexual minority. The sponsors suggest providing cards to pass out which “speak” for them. Here is what they say:

Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I am participating in the Day of Silence (DOS), a national youth movement bringing attention to the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies. My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by anti-LGBT bullying, name-calling and harassment. I believe that ending the silence is the first step toward building awareness and making a commitment to address these injustices. Think about the voices you are not hearing today.

DAY of SILENCE – What are you going to do to end the Silence?

This would be one side of a dialogue. What is the other side? Is there another side? The DoS invites a dialogue about ending bullying relating to perceptions of sexual orientation. What kind of dialogue is envisioned by the DoD? From the website:

As a high school or college student, do you sometimes feel discouraged when controversial subjects like homosexuality are brought up in your school—and the conversation seems stifled, one-sided and doesn’t allow free room for discussion? Do you feel like your beliefs—the deepest truths of Christianity—are being mischaracterized?

Wish your classmates could hear more of the story—like the truth about God’s deep love for us and what the Bible really says about His redemptive design for marriage and sexuality? Wouldn’t it be nice if a deeper and freer conversation could happen?

As it stands, on Friday, the DoS students will ask for a conversation about anti-gay name-calling and bullying and then on Monday, the DoD students will answer with a defense of evangelical beliefs about sexuality. To me, that seems like two groups talking about two different things.

And so, I will continue to promote the Golden Rule Pledge during the days surrounding the “Days.” GRPledgers will join with those calling for an end to anti-gay bullying and offer that response to the question: “What are you going to do to end the Silence?” In addition, I encourage students to be keep the dialogue about ending bullying on the DoD.

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  • Jayhuck

    As it stands, on Friday, the DoS students will ask for a conversation about anti-gay name-calling and bullying and then on Monday, the DoD students will answer with a defense of evangelical beliefs about sexuality. To me, that seems like two groups talking about two different things.

    That’s because it is two groups talking about two different things. Conservatives want to ride the coat-tails of a day set aside to promote tolerance for gay and lesbian people and make it about Evangelical understanding of sexuality, which, as I write this, I realize is an even a more complex thing as Evangelicals differ on the topic.

    So what DoD really wants to talk about is one Evangelical group’s understanding of sexuality.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Well said, Warren.

  • Julie

    Warren, in my experience in many denominations (“different evangelical groups” as one comment stated), there is concurrence that bullying is wrong….bullying of anyone. That should be the focus of DoS. You ask: what are you going to do to end the bullying? How about focusing on ALL BULLYING! Because it focuses on bullying of GLB specifically, then why criticize DoD for dealing with GLB issue from their perspective, which happens to be the Biblical perspective? I don’t consider it the “evangelical perspective”, just because some denominations (i.e. Episcopal) want to be PC and have redefined scripture to fit its human view.

    Your dismissal of DoD stiffles the voice of many who hold deep values, making them feel like second-class citizens. Must everyone in society validtate and normalize the gay lifestyle to live as acceptable in this country?

    If rational “evengelicals” are not allowed their voice, then the Fred Phelps of the world will tkeep trying to take the world’s stage….and no one wants that.

  • Richard W. Fitch

    @Julie: As an Episcopalian I take offense at the assertion that TEC (among others) is simply attempting to be PC and redefining Scripture. The Fundamentals began this type of attack against Biblical scholarship back at the beginning of the 20th century when historical and textual criticism were in their infancy. Link to that the more accurate picture of Biblical history provided by the scientific strides in archeology and the wider influence of multiculturism. It took how many hundred years for the Vatican to acknowledge that Galileo was actually correct? How many more years will it take for Fundamentalists to acknowledge that scholarship is not the enemy of faith but a lens for sharper understanding?

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Your dismissal of DoD stiffles the voice of many who hold deep values, making them feel like second-class citizens

    pardon me while I fall over laughing on the floor.

  • Jayhuck

    @ Timothy –

    LOL :)


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