Spiritual

Calling Out Bullying in Christianity: “If You Dare Think for Yourself, You’re Ousted from the Club”

bullying

I found myself writing names on a piece of paper, with the full intention of later ripping it apart. It reminded me of something you’d be taught at a youth Summer camp, which wasn’t all together surprising considering the whole incident made me think of high school. The big difference, though, being that I was a forty-three year old woman, not a sixteen year old girl. Despite the age gap, the similarities were uncanny, and as I reflected on my teenage years, I realized I was again the victim of bullying.

As a girl, I had experienced bullying by one of my peers, over a boy on the surface, but underneath due to much more pressing issues. Jealousy, self-esteem problems, and much more pain had led to the bully in school tormenting me. I wondered if pain was the cause of my current day bullying, and I tried to keep that in mind as my own heart was hurting. I remembered how hard it had been back in tenth grade. At the time I felt like the whole school was against me. No one talked to me, no one stood up for me. Just silent faces watching me walk down the hall alone. Oddly enough, that’s how I had felt last week.

As I found myself being attacked by sisters in Christ, I felt like that young woman again, head down, heart broken over supposed friends turning their back on me. I had been the victim of something I didn’t even know existed, until I found myself on the outside of the fray. Before, I had been a main member of the Christian Woman Club, but as my heart sought truth deeper than that of the world, my opinions began to conflict with that of my fellow Conservative friends. Before they had applauded my speeches, but that was when my words mirrored their own. It turns out that if you went off script, Christian women could be like a mafia family.

The key to being part of the Christian clique was to say the right things. You could speak as loudly as you wanted, as long as you spoke to popular opinion. It reminded me of the movie Mean Girls. You had to wear the right color, but it turns out it’s red, not pink, and definitely not blue. Blue was totally out.

As my mind had started to support the causes I felt the Lord leading me to champion, and as my heart of love questioned things that stood in contrast to compassion and kindness, I was met with opposition. Not by my enemies, but by my friends. Yet instead of talking it out, I found myself being shouted at. I was attacked by people I considered friends, and my Christianity questioned by people I had known over twenty years. You were allowed to proclaim yourself as a Christian if your opinions were exactly the same as the majority, but if you spoke anything different, forget about it. You got ousted from the club. So, if I disagreed with the politics, I obviously couldn’t believe in Jesus, and if I spoke love, it was called heresy. You could think, you just couldn’t think differently. You had to be in agreement on what sins specifically were the big, bad ones, and hush up about the seemingly insignificant ones. In other words, you were encouraged to read the Bible, but not so intently that you actually attempted to be like Jesus. That was way too much, and it went in opposition to things like standing up for Christian rights. Because it was good to stand up for the Lord; you just had to ignore the fact that you might have to stand on the backs of the other children of God to do it. Y’all, I don’t think God is proud about this at all. Actually, I think it makes Him sad.

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Let’s just say for a moment, for sake of argument, that my ideas were bogus, that I was way off base. Call it backsliding, or whatever you wish. How do you think you should try and talk some sense into me? By attacking me, or by calling into question my salvation? Goodness. Who decided this was the way to go about it?!

After the last year, but especially the past week, I’ve sadly discovered that there’s a large amount of bullying in the Christian community. If you dare to think for yourself, allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart, rather than Fox News, be prepared to be called the worst of all dirty words… a liberal. I have seen friends feel led to stand up for injustice, but be silenced by the bullies around them. I have seen friends try to walk in love, but be told they’re wrong for thinking that way. There’s a rhetoric that has to be repeated, and taken in as gospel. Funny thing? When you open your eyes and take a real look, it’s the furthest thing from the gospel there is. The bullies of Christianity are displaying behavior that is the furthest from Jesus there is. How is this furthering the Kingdom?

At the start of this post I mentioned writing down names on a piece of paper. You see, I found myself yesterday feeling down. My heart was broken, and I found myself thinking again and again about the hurt I felt, about the insults hurled against me. I realized that I couldn’t continue in offense, that I had to let the hurt go much like I had purged high school from my memory. I had to remember that I was in this world, but not of it. I had to remember that I wasn’t the names the world gave me, but that I was who my Father knew me to be. My salvation wasn’t based on who I voted for, but rather who I served. I served Jesus, not man. So I tore up the little piece of paper, and I took comfort in knowing that opinions are just as flimsy as that post-it note I threw into the trash.

Brie Gowen
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Brie Gowen is a 30-something (sliding ever closer to 40-something) wife and mother. When she’s not loving on her hubby, chasing after the toddler or playing princess with her four-year-old, she enjoys cooking, reading and writing down her thoughts to share with others. Brie is also a huge lover of Jesus. She finds immense joy in the peace a relationship with her Savior provides, and she might just tell you about it sometime. She’d love for you to check out her blog at BrieGowen.com.

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