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May17ThuThe Church should be an example to the world on how to treat people with love, respect, dignity, compassion, patience, and acceptance May 17, 2012 by Captain Mark Braye
Love is Louder was started by The Jed Foundation, MTV and actress Brittany Snow. The movement supports anyone feeling mistreated, misunderstood or alone. Love is Louder addresses issues like bullying, discrimination, negative self-image, loneliness, and depression.
- Filed Under:
- Opinion & Critical Thought
Thursday, May 17, 2012, is The Million T-Shirt March Against Bullying. People across North America will be marching today in support of family and friends, fellow students and neighbours.
Bullying is a growing problem in the societies and cultures of Canada and the United States of America. It has turned into a very real social and political issue.
BullyingCanada reports that one in four children are bullied, one in five kids are the bully, and over 200,000 high school students are attacked every month nationally.
What is Bullying?
BullyingCanada.ca defines bullying as:
- Punching, shoving and other acts that hurt people physically
- Spreading bad rumours about people
- Keeping certain people out of a group
- Teasing people in a mean way
- Getting certain people to "gang up" on others
The four most common types of bullying are:
- Verbal bullying - name-calling, sarcasm, teasing, spreading rumours, threatening, making negative references to one's culture, ethnicity, race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation, unwanted sexual comments.
- Social Bullying - mobbing, scapegoating, excluding others from a group, humiliating others with public gestures or graffiti intended to put others down.
- Physical Bullying - hitting, poking, pinching, chasing, shoving, coercing, destroying or stealing belongings, unwanted sexual touching.
- Cyber Bullying - using the internet or text messaging to intimidate, put-down, spread rumours or make fun of someone.
What Can the Church do?
The short answer is… love. The long answer is extensive.
We can pray. Sounds simple enough, but we believe in the power of prayer. We should be praying for bullies and those who are bullied.
The Church should be an example to the world on how to treat people with love, respect, dignity, compassion, patience, and acceptance. The Church should be treating people with Christlikeness.
The Church should be a safe place for people who are bullied and who bully. The Church could help with forgiveness, reconciliation, and the redemption of social relationships and boundaries. The Church, the Body of Christ, is a place for healing.
Screen the documentary film Bully and talk about it. Invite your community to engage each other and work together against bullying.
The Theological Implications
There are significant theological implications to the issue of bullying. Christians believe humans, all humans, whether they acknowledge it or not, are created in the image of God. Therefore, when someone is bullied, the image of God is being devalued, it's being “defaced.” Bullying a child of God is like throwing mud on a priceless painting.
There are numerous passages of Scripture that can be applied to this issue as well. James wrote these words: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27, NIV). Widows and orphans were people who did not have a male in their lives; they were easily taken advantage of and could be “bullied.”
Perhaps the most frightening words that could be applied to bullying are Christ's in Matthew 25. If we bully others, we're bullying Christ himself.
Bullying is a corrosive issue to society. It erodes the dignity and self-worth of others. It damages emotional and mental health. Bullying can be stopped. Let's do our part to help.
Captain Mark Braye and his wife, Nancy, are the officers/pastors of The Salvation Army Temiskaming Community Church in Temiskaming Shores, Ont. They have two children, Hannah and Micah.