In my media feed today was an article with the above title.
It begins: “Every June, the LGBTQ+ community and allies celebrate Pride Month, an opportunity to center and celebrate LGBTQ+ people in their fullness, to look back on strides toward equity, and to imagine a world where celebration and full inclusion is the norm, not an exception. For many Christians, however, Pride Month is looked upon with judgment and reproach, and is seen as an opportunity to preach vitriol against LGBTQ people. Pride is an opportunity, not just for the LBGTQ community to celebrate, but for non-LGBTQ people to repent and to enter into a more holistically Christ-like way of being. In many ways, Pride Month became necessary because of homophobic Christians. As a collective (though there are denominations such as the UCC and Episcopal traditions that have long worked toward greater inclusion), Christians, particularly conservative evangelicals, have created much of the context for the historic exclusion, abuse, victimizing and othering of LGBTQ people”.
I agreed with a lot of the article and while it was somewhat harsh on the sort of homophobic Christianity that gave rise to Pride events in the first place, some of it is sadly justified. My own position on LBGTQ+ matters has been set out in my “The Gay Conundrum” and “Sexual Identity and Sexual Orientation” e-books, both available as downloads (here and here). I don’t wish to go over my views on these matters other than provide my own response to the question raised here, as a Gospel Preaching, Community Activist and the sort of thought process I feel my fellow Christians should be embarking on. My fear is many aren’t and rather than rock the boat they go with the flow instead. While pride (gay or straight) doesn’t sit comfortably, Christians should seek to include “the other” whoever they happen to be and should take seriously the stereotype that sees them as judgmental and bigoted. As for homophobia, which I take as fearing and hating LBGTQ+ folk, there is absolutely no room for this. I feel the main issue at stake here is finding / doing what God wants and sometimes that is counter cultural. While God accepts us “just as I am”, he doesn’t want to remain as we are but rather to become as what He wants us to be. Our allegiance is first and foremost to the Lord, and sometimes it means going out on a limb and taking the flak since doing His will is what matters most.
LBGTQ+ Pride (or as it used to be referred to – Gay Pride) marches / events have been around for a long time. In the early days, eyebrows were raised and opposition could be expected, especially from among Christians, and in some places in the world that is still the case. In those early days I would have been opposed to such events and even now I have reservations, the main one being I cannot celebrate that which (according to my own theological understanding) I should be opposing. Yet since those early days, my views and that of many others, have changed. I recall some years responding to Christians wanting to participate in an anti-gay pride march. Given what I have come to learn about how many gay folk feel on the matter of discrimination etc., my suggestion (not taken up) was to organize a free tea and cake stall inviting honest and respectful conversation with any who would like it. I have also been involved on a professional basis organizing diversity events that have included among other participants LBGTQ+ groups, and while some have reckoned I have gone over to the dark side, I have seen this in overwhelmingly positive terms when it comes to seeking understanding, common ground etc. between disparate groups. I couldn’t help respond to the discomfort of one conservative Christian friend over a recent gay pride march, for while I completely got her reasons I also couldn’t help feeling sympathy for the marchers who not that long ago would have had to hide their sexual preferences or else face an homophobic backlash.
When a friend of mine, who has been a great help in the past when I have coordinated those events announced he was organizing a local Pride event, I felt happy to publicise what was to take place. It is not a matter of endorsing or not endorsing what is being planned – people need to make up their own minds on the matter, but rather respecting the rights of “the other” to do what they feel is appropriate (as long as it does not harm other people or break the law). As a libertarian, I care little where people stand on the LBGTQ+ spectrum, and have friends on all points in that continuum. As a gospel preacher that thinks theologically, I am clear what I believe on these matters (read my books) and urge fellow Christians to hold their nerve rather than being sucked into a culture that too often dishonours God by unnecessary compromise. I remain concerned that part of societal shutting down of religious freedom, free speech etc. may include those who do NOT support pride events. I continue to be challenged when it comes to carrying out the great command to love my neighbour, which is not only about accepting them and being inclusive etc. but encouraging them to be the sort of people God would have us all to be. As for me, I still have a way to go! But if pressed on the matter, I will not be celebrating Pride quite in the same way the author might have had in mind, but will respect the views of a number of friends who will.