Tom Gilson

What “Not Bullying” Looks Like?

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Dan Savage


Dan Savage, founder of the “It Gets Better” anti-bullying and self-respect campaign, was speaking to a conference of high school journalists recently. This has been circulating a couple weeks already, but I want to comment on it anyway.

Prepare for outrage.

We can learn to ignore the b***s*** in the Bible about gay people… we ignore b***s*** in the Bible about all sorts of things. The Bible is a radically pro-slavery document. … We ignore what the Bible says about slavery because the Bible got slavery wrong…. The Bible got the easiest moral question that humanity has ever faced wrong–slavery. What are the odds that the Bible got something as complicated as human sexuality wrong? 100%….There is no effort to amend state constitutions to stone women to death on their wedding night if they’re not virgins. At least not yet. We don’t know where the GOP is going these days….

It’s funny as someone who’s on the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the Bible, how pansy-a**ed some people react when pushed back. I apologize if I’ve hurt anyone’s feelings, but I have a right to defend myself, and to point out the hypocrisy of people who justify anti-gay bigotry by pointing to the Bible and insisting we must live by the code of Leviticus on this one issue and no other.

This is what respect looks like? This is what understanding looks like? NO.

Dan Savage doesn’t know how not-obvious the slavery issue was 2,000 years ago, and he doesn’t know what the Bible teaches about it. He doesn’t know what it was in history that has made the right answer obvious. He’s fully ignorant on this, but he pronounces on it anyway. Is that respect? Is that understanding? NO.

Dan Savage doesn’t know what the Bible teaches about “stoning women to death on their wedding night.” He’s fully ignorant on this. Is that respect? Is that understanding? NO.

Dan Savage doesn’t know what Leviticus teaches, or how it related to the culture of its day, or how it relates to today, or why Leviticus isn’t the only text from which Christians gain our understanding of human sexuality. He’s fully ignorant on it, and yet he pronounces on it anyway. Is that respect? Is that understanding? NO.

Dan Savage laughed at the people walking out the door, and called them names. He encouraged the rest of the people there to laugh at them. Is this how you demonstrate a message of anti-bullying? NO.

Dan Savage spoke of hypocrisy at the end of this segment. Is this how you demonstrate that? YES!

Caution: the language in the video is (obviously) no better than what I quoted above.

Follow-up: Savage apologized, admitting that his word choice [pansy-a**ed] “was insulting, it was name-calling, and it was wrong.”

Also:

In a blog post on Sunday, Savage wrote that his remark at a conference for the Journalism Education Association and the National Scholastic Press Association was “being spun as an attack on Christianity. Which is bullshhh… which is untrue.”

Really?

“I was not attacking the faith in which I was raised,” Savage wrote. “I was attacking the argument that gay people must be discriminated against — and anti-bullying programs that address anti-gay bullying should be blocked (or exceptions should be made for bullying ‘motivated by faith’) — because it says right there in the Bible that being gay is wrong.”

Ri-i-ght.

Homosexuals often insist that their sexual orientation can’t be separated from their identity, that it is their identity. That’s a sad message in many ways. It’s ironic, though in light of that, that someone like Dan Savage thinks he can separate out one part of Christian belief, jump all over it with jackbooted feet, and try to convince people he’s not attacking any of it at all. Ironic, and once again, a nice display of hypocrisy.

Series Navigation (Dan Savage):Why Did They Invite Dan Savage To Speak? >>>
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22 thoughts on “What “Not Bullying” Looks Like?

  1. some folks are so down-to-the-bone hypocritical they couldn’t recognize irony if it walked out of the room.

  2. Homosexuals often insist that their sexual orientation can’t be separated from their identity, that it is their identity.

    Thank you for stating this outright. It’s one of the key problems with the modern discussion of these things, and not said often enough.

  3. The day that homosexuality was redefined to be an “identity” instead of a “proclivity” was the day that “Newspeak” took over – which simply foreshadowed the day that “anti-bullies” would employ bullying tactics.

  4. Is your heart not in error in this post? Are we not called to a higher law?

    Would not Jesus apologize to this non-believer for the harm that those claiming to be Christians or followers of the bible have done to him?

    Jesus does not need us to be indignant for Him, of that I’m sure.

    You seem a good man with a worthy desire to seek and protect the truth; but, in our limited understanding, isn’t the essence of truth loving our neighbour, loving the Samaritan, loving our enemy?

    Is there is a case where truth trumps love?

    To be clear, I’m a layman and an authority on nothing; but further alienating an unbeliever strikes me as unbecoming of a skilled teacher such as yourself.

  5. @Andrew,
    The archetype of selfless love himself said:

    Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

    …was he “alienating” the targets of this comment; should he have “apologized” to them?

  6. Having read through Leviticus, and having discussed the issue on the Bible’s handling of slavery, I’ve always found it striking how many that have issue with it have even read through it and taken time to ponder the differences. They see and hear the word slavery and instantly conger up American slavery in their minds — when the biblical treatment was not the harsh, anti-human system of early America. The biblical system was more of an extreme wage garnishing to pay off a debt you couldn’t pay otherwise.

    As for Leviticus being the only place we get our view of godly sexuality, he’s ignoring passages elsewhere thought the old and new testament. The beginning of Paul’s epistle to the Romans comes immediately to mind.

    Andrew – I partially agree, there should be compassion towards the error, however it is also I compassionate to to correct the error. We are called to speak the truth in love. You ask if there “is a case where truth trumps love”; there is not. However, there is no case where love trumps truth. The two are equal and designed to go hand in hand. If a friend passionately believes he can fly if only he leaps from a cliff, do you not correct his error? You speak to him the truth, but you do so with compassion for he is your friend. To quote the motto of Through the Maze ministries — Truth without love is too harsh, love without truth is too soft.

  7. wrt slavery, this is a good resource. The history of the matter is clear: the Bible is the single-most significant positive influence toward the abolition of slavery.

  8. Thanks for that link, Doug.

    Andrew,

    I’ve been thinking very hard about what you wrote. Some of the questions you asked have straightforward answers, in my opinion, and I think it’s best to start there.

    First, in public proclamation related to the Bible, one always runs the risk that N.T. Wright mentioned in a lecture I’ve heard by podcast: it seems that one must always say everything one believes every time one opens one’s mouth, or else risk being accused of not believing it. I have had a lot to say about the relation between Christians and homosexuals in my series, To Treat One Another as Humans. It would have been good for me to have made reference to that in this blog post, I’m sure.’

    That’s a start; it’s not the whole story.

    We know of no situation where Jesus or the apostles apologized to non-believers. We do know of national prayers of confession in the OT. That would be the closest biblical analogue to what you are suggesting.

    We do have NT examples of apostles being indignant for him. Some of them Jesus corrected, but in the Acts we have at least several instances of strong confrontation: Acts 3:llff, Acts 7:51-54, Acts 8:9-24; not to mention the Ananias and Sappira incident.

    So I don’t think there’s a strong biblical reason for us to draw the conclusion that “Jesus does not need us to be indignant for him.” I note, by the way, that Jesus doesn’t need us to be or to do anything for him, but he has given us instructions to do things anyway. I don’t do anything at all because I think Jesus needs it. I do it (ideally, at least, when I’m walking in full wisdom) because I think it’s in accord with my calling. That’s all.

    I think the Acts passages I have referred to here show that there’s something maybe not quite right in “the essence of truth [is] loving our neighbor.” Of course love is inseparable from truth, but love is sometimes expressed and demonstrated through speaking truth.

    Finally, in the epistles we find frequent strongly worded warnings against false teachers. Recall that Dan Savage claims to be representing good Bible teaching; see the link at the end of my original post. The reason for that is because false teachers lead people astray. Dan Savage is a false teacher leading people astray—into death—and he needs to be called out for it.

    I think he needs to be called out with strength equal to the manner in which he delivers his message. He’s making strong statements, he’s winning people with them, and someone needs to show that he’s a fake and a fraud–that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and that he’s wrong to represent himself as if he does. I can love him as a person, but I dearly wish his message would be exposed for the damnable lie that it is. I don’t apologize for that one bit.

    Did I treat him respectfully enough as a person in the process? That’s a tough one. I’m not sure. If I were to meet him face to face I’d want him to know I deeply regret and abhor all the bullying he has experienced. I wish him all the best in every way, knowing that the best is always that which is in accord with God’s wisdom, truth and holiness.

  9. “I’ve always found it striking how many that have issue with it have even read through it and taken time to ponder the differences.”

    You have to remember that those “…that have issue with it…” don’t want to understand it. They want to make it into an anti-Bible, anti-Christian, anti- religion soundbite. Folks like Savage are about demonizing anyone and anything that doesn’t square with their agenda. We’ve seen here with Otto Telick’s posts on SSM. We’ve seen it with the race baiting in the Trayvon Martin case. It’s a central tactic of the left and they have 90% of the media to back them up.

  10. WOW. I am impressed. That was a wonderful video. I commend Dan for laying his cards on the table openly but that wasn’ what was impressive – that was just predictable.

    I hear constantly how we are losing young people and they are throwing off their families beliefs but I was BLOWN AWAY by the constant stream of young people walking out on him.

    I’ve been so indoctrinated that young people were no longer believers in the Bible and Christ that I thought for a second they were going to another class but then Dan referenced to them standing outside in the hall and I wanted to give them a standing O.

  11. and now a word on slavery from someone that unlike Dan has more credentials to speak about it.

    As an African American I have always noticed what might be surprising to Dan if he thought about it. The people who actually went through slavery have more people who believe in the Bible and in the church than many groups of whites. (Reference point being the US)

    No offense to my white (actually hate even using that word but its at the heart of this discussion Dan seems to think he can lecture all of us on) brothers and sisters in Christ but Whenever I see these scathing attacks against the church and the Bible on behalf of slavery its almost always someone one white feeling they are complaining on my behalf not an African American.

    Why is that? (not to claim that there are no people of color among them. Some of the Nation of Islam people are bible blasters but even with their very skin color focused message they have never gained prominence over the evangelical church in the African american community).

    Thats easy for almost any African American to figure out.

    It was the church that was involved at first in emancipation. It was the church as an institution that first accepted the worth of slaves and it was the church accepting the call of Christ to go into all nations and preach the Gospel that brought white missionaries to African and Caribbean countries affirming the worth of those of African descent.

    Dan can cherry pick scriptures and ignore history if he wishes. Wilbur Wilberforce on the conviction of his Christian faith was joined by believers across the world who saw in the Gospel of Jesus Christ God’s love and equal concern for African Americans and they initiated the emancipation movement among anglo Saxons (so to speak). Paul long ago stated that we were all one in Christ and Paul again argued for the equal treatment of slaves as brothers and therefore equals in the kingdom of God withour reference to being male or female , Jew or gentile, free or slave. Its a historical and documented fact. Plus slavery in the Bible never had the race overtones that it later came to have.

    Finally and this might be a bit controversial but as an African I am tired of the homosexual community equating their plight with mine. I carry my skin with me everywhere I go and it is apparent in every walk of my life. They don’t and are not required to do the same with their sexuality. Equating the two experiences is somewhat insulting as to the degree of persecution and the inability to avoid it.

    I am a heterosexual man who to my shame failed in the area of marriage and in accordance with my Saviours command have been celibate for over a decade. I will never marry again unless my wife dies. My identity is Christ and him crucified for me. If I am called upon to deny my sexuality for him as a heterosexual there is no great shame for the Bible to call a homosexual to do the same. For the truly spiritual nothing that one does with his body defines him and so I reject that part of the argument as well. There is no special target on the homosexual in the Bible. There are numberous equal punishments for the heterosexual in Leviticus because there is a mystical bond in sexuality beyond the physical action that the world takes no notice of and is yes is evil to break.

    Every child of a broken home feels it and knows it until we brain wash him/her that its okay.

  12. Yeah, good old Dan Savage. Actually, the first time I came across him was his “It Gets Better” website, which seemed like an honest, heartfelt and decent project. So I thought I’d look into him a bit more, seeming like a decent guy. Then I found out he was the one behind the whole repugnant “Santorum” smear campaign, along with some other profanity-laden gems of quotes showing antireligious hatred and bigotry, and personal attacks against those who dare hold to traditional marriage values. I was quite disappointed.

  13. Finally and this might be a bit controversial but as an African I am tired of the homosexual community equating their plight with mine. I carry my skin with me everywhere I go and it is apparent in every walk of my life. They don’t and are not required to do the same with their sexuality. Equating the two experiences is somewhat insulting as to the degree of persecution and the inability to avoid it.

    I’m sorry, but I think there are a great many parallels to be seen between the various ways in which black people and gay people are or have been persecuted. The comparison is legitimate, in many instances. The laws against interracial marriage, and the ensuing battle to change those laws has many parallels in the SSM debate today. I know many blacks feel that something diminishing about the comparison – but it really isn’t – its diminishing to homosexuals to say there’s no legitimacy to the parallels. That’s not to say that all the challenges homosexuals faced were as severe and widespread as slavery… but… there are horrifying instances nonetheless. And how to deal with those as we move forward, it would be ill-advised not to consult and draw parallels between similar, but not totally alike, events and situations in our past.

    Heck, in colonial America, homosexuality was punishable by death. Look at the sad story of Alan Turing – by all accounts a hero who was instrumental in the defeat of the Nazi’s. The stories are there, and they are awful.

  14. In 1963, still suffering from unjust laws and considerable racism, the word from the spokesman for civil rights was

    I have a dream…

    In 2012, coddled by media and big business, the word from the spokesman for homosexual rights is

    We can learn to ignore the b***s*** in the Bible

    Not so sure about those “great many parallels”, d…

  15. Thanks for your thoughtful replies, Doug, John and Tom. It’s always funny how people take issue with things you’d never expect them to, isn’t it?!

    This is eloquent and beautiful, John:

    “You ask if there “is a case where truth trumps love”; there is not. However, there is no case where love trumps truth. The two are equal and designed to go hand in hand. ”

    To be clear, my questions are about the way this particular post was expressed, not about the issue in general. The line between vehemence and vexation seems a fine one, Tom — and this post felt jarring compared to your others.

    Also to be clear, the core of my concern is less the issue discussed and more how we are to interact with non-believers.

    With that in mind, I’ll just restate a few questions, and y’all can just make sure you’re coming from the right spot!

    1) APOLOGIZING
    If a non-believer is HARMED by believers or those claiming to be believers, what should your response be to that non-believer’s suffering?

    2) INDIGNANT
    Is it correct to equate confronting people with the truth to being indignant? Isn’t ‘indignant’ closer to Matthew 5:22 — and I’m thinking 5:22c! — than any of the NT quotes you brought up?

    3) 1 Corinthians 5:12a
    Tom how do you contextualize this verse in your battles? “This is what respect looks like? This is what understanding looks like? NO.” Is judging Mr. Savages character like this really necessary to correct his message?

    Anyways, these things take forever to write (probably why I never comment!), so don’t feel obligated to answer, Tom. Thank you for all your work on the front lines, and allowing us to learn from and share the journey on this blog.

    Andrew

  16. @Andrew,
    1) Apologizing…
    I’ve known women who seem to think that a man’s only legitimate role is perpetual penance for harm done by men to women in the past.
    And they seem to use each instance of such penance-serving as an opportunity to reinforce their delightful attitude.
    Not sure my apology is appropriate or helpful in all circumstances where those who perpetrated harm in the past can be associated with me by arbitrary means.
    (i.e., to use memories of one’s hurts as a stick to beat on the perceived “class” of one’s past tormentors is to waive any legitimate claim to an apology)

    2) Indignation…
    No, it isn’t. If my math tutees make an error, I’m patient. If they persist in the error, I’m stern. If they pretend there is no error, I’m indignant. (This is all entirely for their own benefit! 🙂 ) Confronting people with the truth when they over-claim, or are abusive with their power is legitimately indignation.

    3)
    Tom was decidedly not “judging Mr. Savage’s character”. Tom was drawing attention to Mr. Savage’s hypocritical behavior — something you might recall that Jesus himself was willing to do on occasion…

  17. I’m interested in this as yet another example of how Gnu morality is anchored in justifying the means with the end. In his Gnu mind, Savage felt justified in attacking these students because he could rationalize it as some sort of self-defense. The end justifies the means.

    What’s more, I thought atheists were supposed to have this commitment to evidence. Since Savage attacked this particular group of students at the end of that clip, did he have any evidence that those students were bullies and used Bible verses to justifying their bullying? Or was he simply relying on stereotypes? If it is just the latter, we once again see that the atheist’s commitment to evidence is a sham.

    One more thing. If the speaker was a Christian activist who used the podium to praise the Bible, would Savage have a First Amendment problem with that given that many public school students were in attendance?

  18. 1) APOLOGIZING
    If a non-believer is HARMED by believers or those claiming to be believers, what should your response be to that non-believer’s suffering?

    I’m not sure. I know that I did not expect Muslims to apologize for 911. Are you saying that Islamic leaders owe America an apology?

  19. Tom,

    We know of no situation where Jesus or the apostles apologized to non-believers.

    Would Acts 23:5 count? Ananias gives a command that violates the Law. Paul call’s him on it, and promises God’s judgement, then seems to admit he spoke out-of-turn when informed that Ananias is high priest.

    Notably, Paul doesn’t retract what he has said; he just seems to admit that it was inappropriate in the context.

  20. Editorial: oops, just realised that “Andrew” is not unique. Post 19 “Andrew” is me. Post 15 (and earlier) “Andrew” is not.

  21. Let’s be very clear.  The Bible contains specific instructions about keeping humans under the ownership of other humans.  Not once, I repeat, not a single time, does it prohibits it, neither in the Old nor in the New Testament.  It is not even a case where there are verses against and others for.  The Bible unequivocally condones ownership of human beings and even provides instructions on how to acquire them, treat them and how they must obey their owners.  This is an indisputable fact.   Are these “absolute-moral-never-changing-instructions-directly-from-God-and-Jesus” good?  Clearly not and I challenge anyone to make a solid and moral case for slavery..  Any civilized society has rejected this divine command.  If we can choose to disregard the Bible when it comes to slavery we can likewise disregard it on the subject of homosexuality and their right to marry. Those who claim to be against homosexual marriage because the Bible says so ought to promore slavery or else they are hypocrits.

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