A Golden Rule Response

Many of you know how I tire of most ‘Christian’ approaches to dealing with culture issues in our world. Despite their rhetoric, their anger and manipulative strategies always come off as hating both the sinner and their sin. And instead of demonstrating the compassion of Jesus for the most marginalized and brokem in our culture, we end up only increasing the anger and misunderstandings on which our conflicted culture seems to thrive.

This especially focuses on public school issues where I occasionally serve as a mediator for cultural and religious conflicts as part of BridgeBuilders. Each April the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network sponsors a Day of Silence each year to encourage students to use silence as a way to identify with the bullying and discrimination that is directed toward students perceived to be gay or transgendered, and to help be a voice to make schools safer for them.

In recent years Christian groups have responded with a Day of Truth to counteract ‘the gay agenda’ in the Day of Silence. These students are told to make it clear at school that homosexuality is an abomination to God. But there is a new alternative being suggested for this year, and I think it offers a much better way for students to be part of a solution, rather than prolonging the conflict. It’s called The Golden Rule Initiative.

While admitting that many conservative students are conflicted about this day. They do not affirm homosexual behavior but they also loathe disrespect, harassment or violence toward any one, including those students who are or may appear to be gay, lesbian or transgendered. The proponent of this approach, Dr. Warren Throckmorton, Associate Professor of Psychology at Grove City College. He suggests participating in a pledge of safety for all students based on the Golden Rule:

We believe the teaching of Christ in the Golden Rule should guide our actions and attitudes regarding all. We also believe that we should work to make school a safe place for all students.

Thus, we advocate students spread a message like this on the Day of Silence:

This is what I’m doing:

• I pledge to treat others the way I want to be treated.

• Will you join me in this pledge?

• “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31).

Because the Day of Silence participants will be passing out cards describing why they are silent and what the Day means to them, we advocate exchanging a card or paper in return. Write or type the Golden Rule pledge on pieces of paper or an index card and pass it out at your school if the Day of Silence is being observed.

Of course, I think it would be more powerful without the Scripture reference. Most Christians can’t imagine how offensive it is to people who don’t embrace the truths of the Bible, to have a Scripture reference thrown in their face. It makes it appear to them as if we’re only doing it to follow a rule and not out of love or respect for them.

They’ll be taken with the truth of the quote far easier if we don’t reference it. It would be far better to let them discover where it comes from at some future time.

But over all, I like this approach.

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10 Comments
  1. Andy April 14, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    I’m bummed about this and have to disagree that there’s much light at the end of this tunnel. He specifically says to pass out the cards because the DOS kids will be passing out cards, and he closes by saying to pass out the cards “IF” the DOS is being observed at your school. If this is all about respect and the Golden Rule, why only have a GRI if they have a DOS at your school? Combine all this with the fact that they scheduled the GRI on the same day as the DOS, and it looks like an act of confrontation, disingenuous in spirit, and not an act of love at all.

    Why not schedule the GRI on a different day and make it a real expression of love?

  2. Andy April 15, 2008 at 2:25 am

    I’m bummed about this and have to disagree that there’s much light at the end of this tunnel. He specifically says to pass out the cards because the DOS kids will be passing out cards, and he closes by saying to pass out the cards “IF” the DOS is being observed at your school. If this is all about respect and the Golden Rule, why only have a GRI if they have a DOS at your school? Combine all this with the fact that they scheduled the GRI on the same day as the DOS, and it looks like an act of confrontation, disingenuous in spirit, and not an act of love at all.

    Why not schedule the GRI on a different day and make it a real expression of love?

  3. Jay April 16, 2008 at 5:26 am

    I like the approach too, but why does it have to be a certain day?

    Why not just live that out every day?

    Why do we always have to make an “event” out of something, rather than just simply live life?

  4. Jim Wehde April 16, 2008 at 5:46 am

    Wayne,

    This is yet another facet of what Father is doing through you in which He is showing Himself to the world. This is so moving to me! Thank you, Wayne.

    From Rob Bell’s “Velvet Elvis” (P. 167):

    And this is because the most powerful things happen when the church surrenders its desire to convert people and convince them to join. It is when the church gives itself away in radical acts of service and compassion, expecting nothing in return, that the way of Jesus is most vividly put on display. To do this, the church must stop thinking about everybody primarily in categories of in or out, saved or not, believer or nonbeliever. Besides the fact that these terms are offensive to those who are the “un” and “non”, they work against Jesus’ teachings about how we are to treat each other. Jesus commanded us to love our neighbor, and our neighbor can be anybody. We are all created in the image of God, and we are all sacred, valuable creations of God. Everybody matters. To treat people differently based on who believes what is to fail to respect the image of God in everyone. As the book of James says, “God shows no favoritism.” So we don’t either.

  5. Jay April 16, 2008 at 8:26 am

    I like the approach too, but why does it have to be a certain day?

    Why not just live that out every day?

    Why do we always have to make an “event” out of something, rather than just simply live life?

  6. Jim Wehde April 16, 2008 at 8:46 am

    Wayne,

    This is yet another facet of what Father is doing through you in which He is showing Himself to the world. This is so moving to me! Thank you, Wayne.

    From Rob Bell’s “Velvet Elvis” (P. 167):

    And this is because the most powerful things happen when the church surrenders its desire to convert people and convince them to join. It is when the church gives itself away in radical acts of service and compassion, expecting nothing in return, that the way of Jesus is most vividly put on display. To do this, the church must stop thinking about everybody primarily in categories of in or out, saved or not, believer or nonbeliever. Besides the fact that these terms are offensive to those who are the “un” and “non”, they work against Jesus’ teachings about how we are to treat each other. Jesus commanded us to love our neighbor, and our neighbor can be anybody. We are all created in the image of God, and we are all sacred, valuable creations of God. Everybody matters. To treat people differently based on who believes what is to fail to respect the image of God in everyone. As the book of James says, “God shows no favoritism.” So we don’t either.

  7. Plumb Bob April 16, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    Andy, and Jay,

    The reason the Golden Rule day needs to be the same day as the Day of Silence is that it’s not just the gays and transgendered who are marginalized, it’s also the Christians. The DOS is a difficult day for them because the culture is shoving a very strong, very clear message in their faces that says “WE HATE WHAT YOU BELIEVE.” This ought not to be minimized; this is belittling and marginalizing for Christian students.

    Thus, the goal is not just to show respect for the gay and transgendered, and not just to avoid a confrontational stance on a controversial topic, but to give Christian students a way to remain part of the general community while also remaining true to their faith.

    I think it’s an excellent idea, Wayne. Christians do not need to be carrying “X is an abomination to God” in their hearts, let alone advertising it in public. That’s not the gospel, that’s the Law, and it’s been nailed to the cross.

    Phil W.

  8. Plumb Bob April 16, 2008 at 7:31 pm

    Andy, and Jay,

    The reason the Golden Rule day needs to be the same day as the Day of Silence is that it’s not just the gays and transgendered who are marginalized, it’s also the Christians. The DOS is a difficult day for them because the culture is shoving a very strong, very clear message in their faces that says “WE HATE WHAT YOU BELIEVE.” This ought not to be minimized; this is belittling and marginalizing for Christian students.

    Thus, the goal is not just to show respect for the gay and transgendered, and not just to avoid a confrontational stance on a controversial topic, but to give Christian students a way to remain part of the general community while also remaining true to their faith.

    I think it’s an excellent idea, Wayne. Christians do not need to be carrying “X is an abomination to God” in their hearts, let alone advertising it in public. That’s not the gospel, that’s the Law, and it’s been nailed to the cross.

    Phil W.

  9. Warren Throckmorton April 21, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    Wayne – Thanks for mentioning the Golden Rule Pledge. We have students in 15 schools thus far with more being added daily. I humbly ask your readers who blog to post about this as well.

    Thanks, also for the suggestions, cautions and props. For those who have caution, I am happy to report that GLSEN is not opposed to this effort and in fact, welcomes any response from the Christian community that will make school less dangerous for GLBT kids. I believe the safest place is where the teachings of Christ are observed.

    Anyone reading, please feel free to contact me via the links above.

    Warren Throckmorton

  10. Warren Throckmorton April 21, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    Wayne – Thanks for mentioning the Golden Rule Pledge. We have students in 15 schools thus far with more being added daily. I humbly ask your readers who blog to post about this as well.

    Thanks, also for the suggestions, cautions and props. For those who have caution, I am happy to report that GLSEN is not opposed to this effort and in fact, welcomes any response from the Christian community that will make school less dangerous for GLBT kids. I believe the safest place is where the teachings of Christ are observed.

    Anyone reading, please feel free to contact me via the links above.

    Warren Throckmorton

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