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.