A Christian Response to Gay Bullying
A few weeks ago, Jamey Rodemeyer was found dead by his parents in their Buffalo, New York, home. But Rodemeyer's death was different. The 14-year-old was one of many young people who have committed suicide over bullying and taunting over sexuality. Last year, Tyler Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge in New York after a roommate secretly filmed him in a sexual encounter with another male student and posted it online. Asher Brown and Seth Walsh committed suicide after facing relentless taunting for being gay. And Sladjana Vidovic was one of five students from an Ohio high school to commit suicide in the course of a year.
The suicides of teenagers due to bullying, especially over homosexuality, have led to an outcry in the media, fueling many efforts to fight bullying on all fronts. Ellen Degeneres has taken up the fight; nearly every week, it seems, the comedian tackles the subject on her show. Her website has a page devoted to fighting bullying in schools, including everything from celebrity videos about bullying to messages about the importance of equality in the fight against bullying. A few weeks ago, in an interview with Chaz Bono, she compared the outcry over his participation in Dancing With the Stars to bullying that goes on in schools. Kids learn from their parents, Ellen said,
… until adults take responsibility for how we treat one another, until we see that we are doing the same thing we are asking kids not to do at school—politicians do it, adults do it—to say that he [Bono] is different and he is wrong and to make something of it, shame on us for doing that and being an example for kids.
After the suicides of Clementi, Brown, and Walsh, Degeneres posted a video in which she expressed grief and outrage that anyone would feel so alone that suicide seemed their only option. She said intolerance of homosexuality is the foundation for today's bullying: "There are messages everywhere that validate this kind of bullying and taunting and we have to make it stop. We can't let intolerance and ignorance take another kid's life." She concluded that "things will get easier, peoples' minds will change, and you should be alive to see it."
Degeneres's comments give Christians much to think about. When any person commits suicide, it's a tragedy, one Christians especially should grieve, given the person's God-given dignity and irreplaceable presence in others' lives. Bullying, taunting, and physical or emotional abuse is not to be tolerated by believers who see it happening, regardless of who is being bullied. Nevertheless, Ellen's comments present some troubling assertions—namely, that bullying is simply any moral judgment about another person's behavior.