Faithlink Discussion: Bullying

by jacobjuncker

If the kind of bullying endured by many children took place in the adult world or the workplace, it would be called torture or harassment.  Yet there is a code of silence around bullying.  Those who are bullied and bystanders who witness bulying often fail to tell a responsible adult….

Part of ending the silence…is simply letting bystanders know they have a responsibility to report bullying.  If they do report it, they are not tattle-tales; they are heroes.

adapted from Faithlink: Connecting Faith and Life,volume 16, number 12, July 18, 2010
(Nashville: Cokesbury, 2010)

I very much believe bullying is all about power.

The church is an em-powering institution.  It often, and should grant power to people by placing them in charge of most all aspects of the church: whether that be the building, finances, people (teaching adults or kids), etc.  What is interesting to me is that even in the church (where Jesus’ teachings on love are supposed be faithfully lived out) we have bullies which is why I had to laugh when I read the exert above.  What it should have said was, “If the kind of bullying endured by many children took place in the adult world or the workplace, it would be called torture or harassment unless it happens in the church.”

I suppose at this point I should define what I perceive a bully to be.  I like the definition given at freefrombullies.com.  My personal definition may be something like: “a bully is someone who seeks self-gratification at another’s expense.”  Yes, I know its broad, but I think there’s a lot more bullying going on, in many more forms that we think or want to admit.

Bullies don’t care the cost as long as they, or those who are with them, feel good about what they’ve done.  In a child’s world that means getting a thrill or laughing when another child is hit, bit, kicked; when a child’s hair is pulled, or toys taken.  In a child’s world bullying is manifested through words like “your dumb,” “you’re fat,” or “your ugly.”  In the adult world, in church, bullying is manifested through words like “if they don’t have the desire to walk in the door, then they shouldn’t be here,” “if people can’t handle our way of worshipping, then they just need to leave,” or “I don’t care what the leadership says or if we’re not reaching new people, we’ve always done it this way and it will always stay this way.”  The church is no stranger to bullying.

I do think we have a responsibility to, as this week’s Faithlink encourages, name bullying when we see it: not just in the secular world of kids and adults, but also to name bullying in the church.  For too long the church has bullied those who don’t belong, rather than welcoming them as Christ would welcome them.  We need to stop bullying so that all persons of all ages can experience the liberating love of God found in Jesus Christ.

God who proclaims good news for the oppressed
Who hears the prayers of those too afraid to speak
Who knows the suffering of those who pretend nothing is wrong
Who sees the pain of those who cover up their bruises
Give us ears to hear, eyes to see, and minds to know, so that we may
     not only speak, but act out your healing, liberating, powerful word.  Amen.

adapted from Faithlink: Connecting Faith and Life,volume 16, number 12, July 18, 2010
(Nashville: Cokesbury, 2010)

Have you experienced bullying in or outside the church?  Did anyone stand up for you?  How did that make you feel?

 

My comments are based upon the resource: “Faithlink: Connecting Faith and Life.”  Faithlink is a weekly adult discipleship resource published and Copyrighted by Cokesbury.  If you are a member or constituent of Christ United Methodist Church (Lafayette, IN) and would like to receive this weekly discipleship tool, simply email info@christumchurch.org to express your interest and you will be put on the weekly email list.
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