June is LGBT Pride Month, and if you don’t live under a rock, you’ve likely noticed that the rainbow flags and accessories abound. It makes me ponder: how can we evangelicals think through this using both the lens of Scripture and the lens of love?
I have friends who would say that a Pride parade is nothing more than angry people shaking their fists at God and saying “we will do what we want.” I know others who would say the event is filled with people who’ve been treated as less than human by the world and the Church, and that they are simply saying, “I want to be valued as human just like you.”
The truth is, these events are filled with a variety of people, who each have a mixture of the above views. We are not black and white people. We are filled with grey and contradictions.
As a conservative Christian, how can I think through Pride events? In my mid-sized town of South Bend, Indiana, Pride events have been a growing feature in the month of June. I think that for most of us on the “historical sexual ethic” or conservative side of the discussion, it hasn’t been an issue because we’ve just assumed that these are events for us to avoid. “Pride” in the Scriptures is, after all, fairly negative.
After all, should someone be proud of being LGBTQ? What does God think? And can you be proud of yourself and still think you shouldn’t participate in Pride week? Is being gay part of being fallen, and how do I respond to other fallen parts of myself?
I want to enter this discussion with great humility. I’m straight. I haven’t had to wrestle personally with these questions. And I want to say up front that I desire to be open-handed and humble.
Inherent to this discussion are some “traps” that we can fall into. I am going to share these so you can consider and we can discuss.
There is a binary choice about sexuality: either be proud or be ashamed.
This is a trap that black and white thinkers (many of us) fall into. It’s easier to have things cut and dry, no grey. But that’s not real life. I remember attending a drag show and coming to the conclusion that I should not attend drag shows in the future. The funny tone of all the performing made the time seem light, but my spirit felt weighed down all night long. I remember praying, “This isn’t how You planned for our gender to be fleshed out; give us a better picture.”
I’m not at all saying that those persons with questions about their gender, those experiencing significant gender dysphoria, or those who’ve decided to transition (wherever they are in the transitioning process) should hide and pretend to be experiencing anything different than what they are experiencing. But I am saying that a person can acknowledge truth about themselves—to say “I am only attracted to the same sex” or “I feel strongly like I was born into the wrong gender”—and simultaneously recognize God’s sovereignty in their life and His desire to use a fallen part of themselves for His glory.
If God can use a fallen part of my being for His glory, then I can be proud of that.
Similar to the above, I think this is a trap for many. I’m not of the philosophy that pride in ourselves and our accomplishments is inherently bad or good. But I do want to recognize that the Scriptures shout huge warnings about pride that I want to take seriously.
My husband Shawn has struggled with an addiction to pornography. The victory he’s experienced in this area of his life and the subsequent impact that came as he worked through the sin had huge impact on all of his relationships (marriage, friendships, leadership) has brought a lot of glory to God. Should he therefore be proud of wanting to look at porn? Or should he be ashamed? Or is it just a part of his fallenness that he can openly acknowledge and seek to submit to the Lord to be used for His purposes?
I feel tense as I type, but these are routine discussions these days between my husband and me. So I figure it’s worth putting some ink to. :)
In many ways, it seems that this question comes down to identity. If my identity is placed in anything other than Jesus and who He says that I am, I feel a need to “be proud” of that part of myself. Then I look for ways to validate my identity. And there is the point where “sin is crouching at my door wanting to devour me” (Gen. 4:6).
The pride that I experience over any trait or personality or part of me may or may not be leading me into sin. But it certainly should be held up to the light for His testing.
A friend explained the idea of “identity weight” to me years ago. It means listing all that goes into who I would describe as “me” and rating those traits according to their importance in my life, remembering that this can change daily for me. I ask the Holy Spirit to search me daily. Being a visual person, I picture the colors she assigned to each aspect of my identity—Jesus-follower, mom, camp worker, friend, etc— and how they sit on the scale each day. Generally, when I am out of balance, I am looking to get some need in my life met in a way that bypasses Jesus. Daily, I want to allow the Holy Spirit to sift this in me. And I hope that you do as well.
So how does this all get back to the question of whether or not I attend the Pride parade?
My goal in writing is not to give you an answer of “yes” or “no” to the question, but rather to challenge black-and-white thinking. As evangelical believers, we often automatically respond “no” in situations that are much more nuanced than they appear. And we fear acknowledging the need for nuance lest we be labeled “progressive” or “liberal” for even thinking such thoughts. (Though there are also those who automatically respond with “yes” without thinking as well.)
That is where we should not be proud. We in the Church have raised up a generation that doesn’t know how to think well. That needs to change.
So, over the next few days, sit with the questions from the beginning and do some thinking and praying. And maybe even some Scripture searching. :) Here are the questions again for your ease!
Should someone be proud of being LGBTQ?
What does God think?
Can you be proud of yourself and still think you shouldn’t participate in Pride Month?
Is being gay part of being fallen, and how do I respond to other fallen parts of myself?
Go search for some nuance—you can do it!