Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Wrong and Right Reason for Silence

Maybe you missed it, but last Friday, April 16 was designated as a Day of Silence to encourage fellow students to defend those who are bullied or harassed because of their presumed or expressed homosexual orientation. In many public schools across the country, students were encouraged by GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) to wear red armbands and remain silent in support of those of the moral counter-culture who need to be protected.

The observance stirs discussion of educators addressing homosexuality and gay marriage. Happily, most conservative school districts let the day pass without observance or even comment. In fact, in a press release, the American College of Pediatricians cautioned school superintendents that sexual attractions are transient and schools should not adopt policies that affirm such non-heterosexual attractions.

The College’s letter gave the results of a survey by the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) as the basis for their advice:

[The NARTH] recently released a landmark survey and analysis of 125 years of scientific studies and clinical experience dealing with homosexuality. This report, What Research Shows, draws three major conclusions: (1) individuals with unwanted same sex attraction often can be successfully treated; (2) there is no undue risk to patients from embarking on such therapy and (3), as a group, homosexuals experience significantly higher levels of mental and physical health problems compared to heterosexuals. Among adolescents who claim a ‘gay’ identity, the health risks include higher rates of sexually transmitted infections, alcoholism, substance abuse, anxiety, depression and suicide. Encouragingly, the longer students delay self-labeling as ‘gay,’ the less likely they are to experience these health risks. In fact, for each year an adolescent delays, the risk of suicide alone decreases by 20%.

Any school that allows or promotes the Day of Silence is apparently admitting that a problem exists. No student should be bullied or harassed for any reason. Agreeing that a Day of Silence is needed to focus on the problem shows a school’s indifference to it by apparently not addressing it until goaded into action. These schools are playing “catch up.”

In New Jersey, perhaps this strange new need for a whole day of silence is a retribution for the state forbidding one minute of silence at the beginning of the school day a few years ago. Opponents howled that it might be a back door effort to reintroduce prayer into the schools. If a moment of silent meditation had been allowed, perhaps the current violence and mayhem would have been avoided in the public schools. Now, public schools are allowing a whole day of silence in support of gay and lesbian students. If my math is right, the minutes in the Day of Silence on April 16 far exceed the total of the rejected single minutes of silence in an entire academic year.

When I moved to New Jersey just before my senior year of high school in 1951, by law ten verses from the Old Testament had to be read in homeroom at the beginning of each school day—not just moment of silence, but a whole ten verses from the Word of God. That was before prayer and Bible reading in schools were ruled unconstitutional. It was before metal detectors and safety police had to be in school, before widespread drug usage, teen pregnancies, student misbehavior, assaults on teachers and before incidents like Columbine.

Indeed, as Christian colonist William Penn—a man who made treaties with the Indians that were never broken—said, “If we will not be ruled by God, we will ruled by tyrants.” The tyranny of the human mind knows no boundaries unless constrained by the Word of God.

Hosea soberly warned of such days. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” (Hosea 4:6)

Hopefully, a revival would send the schools back to the font of knowledge to enjoy another prophet’s happy forecast. “All your sons will be taught by the LORD, and great will be your children’s peace.” (Isaiah 54:13)

Dave Virkler

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