Main Point: There are many, many people who disagree with the Bible and its teachings. But no matter how vicious a person attacks the Bible, Jesus’ teachings, or even His believers, all Christians are commanded by God to do good in return.
Discussion Starter: The Bulls**t in the Bible
WARNING: Let us say right from the start that this small group discussion contains VERY, VERY COARSE dialogue. We readily acknowledge that this small group discussion isn’t for every youth ministry group. The topic of discussion (homosexuality) is not only a very sensitive one, but the way in which it is handled (crudely) only makes it worse. Please carefully pray about your use of this curriculum with your group, and exercise discernment that involves the counsel of various leaders around you.
You may not know the name Dan Savage, but you’ve probably heard of his organization “It Gets Better.” Mr. Savage is an openly gay man who was harassed in school for his homosexuality. His suffering made him keenly aware of the plight of others and he was so deeply moved by the suicides of young people who were bullied because of their homosexual orientation that he started It Gets Better, an organization that tries to help members of the LGBT community understand one simple message: it gets better.
It Gets Better has been endorsed by celebrities and politicians alike. Hillary Clinton made a YouTube video about the subject. Lady Gaga has lent her support to the cause, and even President Obama has addressed the project. Together, these folks – and many others – have worked tirelessly against the evils of bullying and taunting and slander and degradation.
But ironically enough, Mr. Savage has recently made headlines for being guilty of the exact same acts of hate that he publically denounces. In an address he gave to a bunch of high school students gathered in an auditorium, Mr. Savage talked about the Bible (and Christians that claim homosexuality is a sin) in a manner that was crude and expletive-laden. Many of the students in the assembly respectfully dismissed themselves from his tirades, which compelled Mr. Savage to then refer to them in an even more disrespectful way.
(By the way, The Source for Youth Ministry has crafted a lengthy statement about homosexuality as it relates to culture and the church, which addresses the biblical concerns Mr. Savage raised in his keynote address.)
The whole affair has landed Mr. Savage in hot water. It’s not the first time his tactics have been criticized, but this brouhaha has proven to be particularly destructive to him because it shows him to be guilty of the same behavior he hates in others.
Introducing the Clip:
Dan Savage is the founder of It Gets Better, an organization that helps young people understand that living as a homosexual doesn’t always have to be tough; in fact, he suggests “it gets better.” You’ve probably heard of his organization even if you’ve never heard of Mr. Savage, himself. Lots and lots of celebrities and politicians have applauded his efforts to try and stop bullying, taunting, hate speech, discrimination, and the degradation of others. But, in a recent speech he gave to a gathering of high school students, Mr. Savage used extremely course language in reference to the Bible and hurtful language to describe those who disagree with his views. Some of the students cheered him on; others respectfully walked out. His tirades have landed him in hot water. Although this clip is short, it’s filled with lots of demeaning language, and in NO WAY do we want to encourage this kind of speech, but because his topic is an important subject for us to be clear on, let’s take a look at what happened, and then discuss it from a standpoint of love.
Show the Clip:
ANOTHER WARNING: This video contains VERY, VERY COARSE dialogue. We know that many students may already have seen this video, but you should prayerfully and discreetly discern how to present this…or whether to present it at all.
The clip is available online at http://popwatch.ew.com/2012/05/01/dan-savage-christian-teens/
This speech by Dan Savage isn’t the first action he’s taken that has gotten him into trouble. In the past, he’s done some pretty despicable things to those he disagrees with. But as it relates to our discussion here, there is so much to be sad about when watching this short video. My heart breaks for Mr. Savage because he doesn’t truly understand God’s Word, because he uses such terrible language to describe God’s intentions for our lives, and because he refers to my brothers and sisters in hateful terms. But I’m also saddened by the harassment and the bitterness he’s faced in his life at the hands of others because he’s a homosexual. We’re going to spend several moments discussing what we saw and heard in this video so that we can make sure we react in a godly manner to these kinds of situations. Let’s acknowledge reality: there are many, many people who disagree with the Bible and its teachings, but no matter how vicious a person attacks the Bible, Jesus’ teachings, or even His believers, all Christians are commanded by God to love them in return. That’s not easy, but let’s talk about doing it anyway.
Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.
CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.
- AROUND THE CIRLCE: As we get started, let’s all take a second to share our names and how big a problem you think bullying is today.
- ASK A FEW: Mr. Savage repeatedly calls the Bible’s teachings about homosexuality “bulls**t.” Why do you think he used such harsh language to describe the Bible’s teaching?
- ASK A FEW: Is his judgment about the Bible’s teachings fair or unfair? Why?
- ASK A FEW: Do you know students in your school or neighborhood who are bullied?
- ASK A FEW: Mr. Savage only talked about kids being bullied because of their homosexuality. But what are some other reasons kids are bullied? (Leaders – This is a key question. Mr. Savage’s focus, whether admitted or not, is on homosexual students who are bullied. But let’s face it, kids are bullied because of their intelligence, their gender, their race, their faith, their abilities, their weight, and so on. It’s not just homosexual young people who are bullied.)
- ASK A FEW: You saw that some of the students got up and walked out during his tirade. Was that a good thing or bad thing to do? What would you have done?
- ASK A FEW: Of course, there were plenty of students who stayed behind to listen to Mr. Savage’s remarks, and in some cases, even cheered him on. Do YOU know students who feel like this cheering crowd?
- ASK A FEW: Mr. Savage went on to call those students who left the auditorium “pansy-asses.” Do you think that Mr. Savage is guilty of the same kind of behavior he denounces in others? Why or why not?
- ASK A FEW: What do you think God’s expectations are of us when we are made fun of, or persecuted in some way?
Read the following passage:
1 Peter 4:12-19 (NIV)
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
In our time together, we’ve talked about a couple of very touchy subjects in our culture, namely homosexuality, bullying, and suffering. But the core of our discussion has been about the actions we take when we’re wronged. What we’ve learned tonight is that no matter what happens to us as believers, we never get God’s permission to strike back, lash out, or hurt others because we’ve been hurt.
God strictly tells us to “do good” in spite of what we face.
Dan Savage didn’t do that. But then again, he doesn’t confess to being a Christian, either. I’m really glad that Mr. Savage tries to help those that face bullying. He’s probably helped thousands of young people with his work. That’s a good thing. But that doesn’t give him the right to lash out at Christians just because we disagree with his line of thinking.
Many Christians believe homosexuality is a choice, and therefore, a sin. Mr. Savage deeply disagrees. And that’s OK. What is NOT OK is him becoming disrespectful, discriminatory, and hateful.
To his testament, Mr. Savage did issue a slight apology for his words when he realized what a ruckus he’d caused.
Here is the truth I want embedded on your heart as you leave tonight: regardless of what Mr. Savage and anybody else does against Christians, God expects us to “do good” when we face persecution, suffering, or disrespect.
So, here is what we’re gonna do that’s good.
First, let’s pray for Mr. Savage. (Give students a few moments to individually pray for him. You might want to lead them through this endeavor, giving them specific things to pray about, for instance, his patience, his understanding of the Bible, etc.)
Second, I want us to pray for each other. If we’re truly living for Jesus, we’re going to suffer. So, let’s spend a few moments lifting one another up in prayer. (Again, give students a moment to do this, guiding them if necessary.)
Third, I would like for us to think about those in our lives that suffer for any reason whatsoever. Is it because they are a homosexual? Is it because they are a Christian? Is it because they are Hindu? Overweight? Uncoordinated? Unpopular? Un-whatever? Let’s think about these peers for a moment, because I think it’s a shame that Jesus’ Church – you and I – have missed the opportunity to care for hurting people. Maybe if we did a better job as the Church, organizations like It Gets Better, the Red Cross, and even the United Nations might not have to exist!
Jesus wants us to show compassion, mercy, and love to everyone! Who will you do that for this week?
Finally, I’m going to pray for you. I am going to pray that you live courageously and boldly for Jesus…no matter what. I’m going to pray that you will “do good” no matter what you face. And if you are facing some suffering or persecution, I invite you to hang around after we close up tonight and talk to one of our adult leaders. You don’t have to face this alone. We want to help you “do good” right now.
Close in Prayer
Written by David R Smith
Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Guy's Guide to FOUR BATTLES Every Young Man Must Face; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on TheSource4YM.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.