How Children Learn Nasty Stuff from Us

Dan Savage (the NorthWest-based Sex Columnist known for being particularly crass in a field of crass-ness) had a particularly strong column last week on Christians’ relationships with anti-gay bullying. Some of his points for those of us who need to listen the most may have been missed in his offensive efforts of calling the writer out, but they are poignant and for those of us who can stomach such insults, they need to be listened to. Slightly edited version is at the end of this blog.

However, I want to take some time to re-envision what this may mean for us Christians.
Imagine that your children are in school in a land where Christians are openly mocked and persecuted. Not the persecution-lite that some radio pundits and mass-mail fliers try to convince us is increasing in this country. (They were saying the same thing when I was a child, about basically the same situations. But I was a Christian then just as now and I can honestly say, I was never truly persecuted. However, as a teacher, I did see real, malignant persecution for sexually ambiguous young men. It broke my heart). Occasionally being teased for being a virgin in the locker room is hardly the same as the verbal, emotional, physical, sexual onslaught that, say, homosexual children receive on a daily, hourly basis. Let’s put aside the concerns that homosexuality is learned or biological, because as Christians, we choose. So we know that choice shouldn’t be a justification for persecution.

Now, imagine living in an area where Christians are outcasts, blamed for all sorts of things that we can’t possibly be responsible for: polluting the minds of young children, if not doing worse; promoting a secret, clandestine agenda;looking to convert innocents and drag them from their family and traditions. In fact, it seems entirely plausible to me that WE are actually doing the things we are accusing the LGBT community as a whole of doing, even as they’re mostly just trying to get a hold on the confusion-matrix that is school, life, hormones, family…

And your children go to school. And they’re bumped into lockers for being at the least moderately associated with Christianity. They’re called all sorts of names, the sorts of names that I just promised a friend I’d try not to repeat. Constant barrage, constant butt of highly embarrassing jokes. Being roughed up in the halls regularly; being sexually assaulted constantly. Derision. Mockery.
And you’re talking with your next door neighbors about these problems. And they’re basically decent folks. Keep to themselves, keep a clean manor, music is down low; they’re not shout-y people like some of the other guys. But you know that their kids are roughing up your kids. Even leaders amongst the anti-Christian bullies.
And they respond, “Now, you guys can live over there and pray your little prayers to your Magical Sky Fairy in peace, and we can do something worthwhile and valuable in peace and we should be all okay. It’s really too bad that’s happening to your children. But we don’t tell our kids to bully your kids. That wouldn’t be very nice or neighborly. It’s against our moral code to do so.
“I’m actually a bit offended,” they continue, adding injury to insult by their mock pain, “that you’d suggest that we would possibly persuade our children to aggravate your children. Maybe if you people didn’t try to be all Christian, what with your going to church and stuff, and wanting to be married and hang out at the ice cream shop like normal people… Maybe they wouldn’t be targeted. But that’s not our fault.”
That’s the same sort of semi-human/back-handed disregard that we’re feeding in our Christian community about Gay/Lesbian/Bi-sexual/Transgendered people. How do our children internalize such talk? Seriously??

Q: I was listening to the radio yesterday morning, and I heard an interview with you about your It Gets Better campaign. I was saddened by and frustrated with your comments regarding people of faith and their perpetuation of bullying. As someone who loves the Lord and does not support gay marriage, I can honestly say I was heartbroken to hear about the young man who took his own life.

If your message is that we shouldn’t judge people based on their sexual preference, how do you justify judging entire groups of people for any other reason (including their faith)? There is no part of me that took any pleasure in what happened to that young man, and I know for a fact that’s true of many other people who disagree with your viewpoint.

To that end, to imply that I would somehow encourage my children to mock, hurt, or intimidate another person for any reason is completely unfounded and offensive. Being a follower of Christ is, above all things, a recognition that we are all imperfect, fallible, and in desperate need of a savior. We cannot believe that we are better or more worthy than other people….


A: I’m sorry your feelings were hurt by my comments.

No, wait. I’m not. Gay kids are dying. So let’s try to keep things in perspective: fuck your feelings.

A question: Do you “support” atheist marriage? Interfaith marriage? Divorce and remarriage? All are legal, all go against Christian and/or traditional ideas about marriage, and yet there’s no “Christian” movement to deny marriage rights to atheists or people marrying outside their respective faiths or people divorcing and remarrying…

Sorry, L.R., but so long as you support the denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples, it’s clear that you do believe that some people—straight people—are “better or more worthy” than others.

And—sorry—but you are partly responsible for the bullying and physical violence being visited on vulnerable LGBT children. The kids of people who see gay people as sinful or damaged or disordered and unworthy of full civil equality—even if those people strive to express their bigotry in the politest possible way (at least when they happen to be addressing a gay person)—learn to see gay people as sinful, damaged, disordered, and unworthy. And while there may not be any gay adults or couples where you live, or at your church, or in your workplace, I promise you that there are gay and lesbian children in your schools. And while you can only attack gays and lesbians at the ballot box, nice and impersonally, your children have the option of attacking actual gays and lesbians, in person, in real time.

Real gay and lesbian children. Not political abstractions, not “sinners.” Gay and lesbian children.

The dehumanizing bigotries that fall from the lips of “faithful Christians” and the lies about us vomited out from the pulpits of churches that “faithful Christians” drag their kids to on Sundays give your children license to verbally abuse, humiliate, and condemn the gay children they encounter at school. And many of your children—having listened to mom and dad talk about how gay marriage is a threat to family and how gay sex makes their magic sky friend Jesus cry—feel justified in physically abusing the LGBT children they encounter in their schools. You don’t have to explicitly “encourage [your] children to mock, hurt, or intimidate” queer kids. Your encouragement—along with your hatred and fear—is implicit. It’s here, it’s clear, and we’re seeing the fruits of it: dead children.

Oh, and those same dehumanizing bigotries that fill your straight children with hate? They fill your gay children with suicidal despair. And you have the nerve to ask me to be more careful with my words?

Did that hurt to hear? Good. But it couldn’t have hurt nearly as much as what was said and done to Asher Brown and Justin Aaberg and Billy Lucas and Cody Barker and Seth Walsh and others—day in, day out for years—at schools filled with bigoted little monsters created not in the image of a loving God but in the image of the hateful and false “followers of Christ” they call mom and dad.


2 thoughts on “How Children Learn Nasty Stuff from Us

  1. Questions and Answers about the Marks and Attributes of the Church152.Which is the one true Church established by Christ?The one true Church established by Christ is the Catholic Church.(a) Many churches which claim to be Christian have broken away from the one true Church established by Jesus Christ. These churches were founded by men who had no authority from God to found a church. (b) Christ intended that there should be only one true Christian Church, for He always spoke of His Church as one. 153. How do we know that the Catholic Church is the one true Church established by Christ? We know that the Catholic Church is the one true Church established by Christ because it alone has the marks of the true Church. 154. What do we mean by the marks of the Church?By the marks of the Church we mean certain clear signs by which all men can recognize it as the true Church founded by Jesus Christ. (a) Jesus Christ willed that the true Church should have these marks, which would distinguish it from all false religions. 155. What are the chief marks of the Church?The chief marks of the Church are four: It is one, holy, catholic or universal, and apostolic. (a) Sacred Scripture teaches that the one true Church of Christ must have these marks. (b) The marks of the Church are themselves an indication that God guides the Church. 156. Why is the Catholic Church one?The Catholic Church is one because all its members, according to the will of Christ, profess the same faith, have the same sacrifice and sacraments, and are united under one and the same visible head, the Pope. (a) Our Divine Savior prayed explicitly that His Church might be one, and He made it one; thus men can recognize it as the true Church. (b) Only the Catholic Church possesses this mark of unity. Various sects, having only fragments of Christianity, are divided in doctrine and practice and recognize no authority but their own judgment, which can easily lead them into error. (c) There are many religious sects which claim to be Christian, but are separated from the unity of Christ by their rejection of the authority invested by Him in the Roman Pontiff, the successor to Saint Peter. (d) Catholics accept all the doctrines of faith and morals which were taught by Our Lord and the apostles and are proposed by the Church for belief and practice. A person who deliberately denies even one of the doctrines of the Church cannot be a Catholic. The Church is one in faith. (e) Catholics take part in the same sacrifice of the Mass and accept the same sacraments, although the same language and the same ceremonies are not used by all in the offering of Mass and in the administration of the sacraments. Everywhere the essential parts of the ceremonies are the same and substantially the same words are used in offering Mass. Hence the Church is one in worship. What Christ determined, the Church cannot change. Since Christ, however, did not determine many points of worship in non-essential matters, the Church has the authority to do so. (f) Catholics are subject to their respective bishops who rule them. They must recognize the supreme authority of the Pope in matters of religion. A person who deliberately refuses to accept the legitimate and supreme authority of the Pope and the bishops in matters of religion cannot be a Catholic.

  2. Not Saved by Faith OnlyYe see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. (James 2:24)It cannot get any clearer than the verse in James that good works are necessary for Christians to truly have the life that Jesus promises.Common objections…James is not speaking of salvation. But notice that the verse immediately preceding refers to Abraham's saving faith… And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. (James 2:23)The book of James is hard to understand and therefore this verse should be ignored. In fact, Martin Luther wanted to remove this book from the Bible. But the verse is actually easy to understand for those who accept Catholic teaching. Shame on those Protestants…interpreting the Bible as their sole authority with preconceived doctrines.

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