Thursday 26 September 2013

Why Tolerence Won't Solve Bullying

We all know that bullying continues to be a growing problem with today's young people, and it is especially evident in public (and private) schools throughout North America.  You are also probably aware that this has lead to a number of policies and legislation which are attempting to "solve" the bullying epidemic.  But there is a reason we aren't seeing the problem reversed.

See, trying to "fix" the bullying problem is, at best, putting a band-aid over a wound which is spewing blood - the band-aid isn't addressing the actual problem, and it's not even really working towards a solution.

Consider the following problems with today's young people:
  • bullying
  • sexual activity at a young age
  • disrespect for adults in position of authority (parents, teachers)
Our culture seems to be promoting a different solution for each, when they all stem from the same problem.

We shouldn't be surprised when children who grow up in a culture which teaches that morality is relative and God doesn't exist, are "given over to a debased mind" (Romans 1:18-32).  They are surrounded by people who don't know Christ and don't have the Spirit of God working in them.  Their real teachers are their peers (Luke 6:40), and so it should be no surprise when they create a youth culture which despises adult authority and has no moral compass.

Do we really want, as this ad implies, to teach children
to merely tolerate those who have a different skin colour?  

We need to recognize that tolerance is different than love, and our society even twists this. The Bible doesn't use the word "tolerance", instead God tells us we are to love our neighbours, even love our enemies, and we are to hate evil.  Hate it in ourselves, hate it in others, and hate how it ravages the world God created.  Hate is a strong word and it is used here intentionally, just like it was by Paul when he wrote: "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil, cling to what is good."(Romans 12:9) Love - as biblically defined - is much stronger than, and quite different from, tolerance.  1 Corinthians 13 tells us that love is patient and kind, that it does not boast and is not arrogant, it is not resentful and it does not rejoice in wrongdoing.   See, if our love is to be sincere, than it must be accompanied by hate for its opposite.  If you love your husband, you hate adultery.   If you love babies, you hate abortion.  If you love good, you hate evil.

That said, the ways in which our culture is teaching children to "tolerate" evil is not helping.  Every day they are inundated by media images which say "tolerate sexuality", "tolerate senseless violence", "tolerate disrespect and rebellion".  Do we really think that hanging up a "We do not tolerate bullying" sign in the school hallway is going to undo all these other messages they get all day long?

The root of the problem isn't the bullying, the sexual promiscuity, the disrespect, etc. - the root, sin, is expressing itself in the moral breakdown of our society, and the overwhelming influence of the peer culture. I am not going to discuss in depth how we can go about preventing or reversing this trend with our own children, but I do strongly recommend  Hold On To Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld, which addresses this.  It is one of the most interesting books I have read in recent years, and I highly recommend it.  

One thing you can do is fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) in your own home.  Scripture shows that parents are responsible for the spiritual upbringing of their children (Deut 6:5-9, Eph 6:4).  We need to be constantly sharing the gospel with our children, teaching them to look at themselves, their peers, and their culture through it's lens.  In this way we can provide a moral compass for navigating the deviant peer culture of aggression, sexuality and disrespect surrounding them - and a generation like that will go far in solving the bullying problem.

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1 comment:

  1. Wonderful post! I always call tolerance an enigma. It contradicts itself. In order to tolerate someone else's beliefs, we have to deny ours and not expect anyone to tolerate us. Isn't tolerance supposed to be about equality and give-and-take? But that's never, ever how it really works, or even can work. After all, Christians have to tolerate everyone else, but the tolerance culture hates Christianity. Makes sense, huh? ;)