“Beware of pride.” It’s a phrase that’s very common, especially in my faith. Pride as I’ve known it, is associated with hard hearts, stiff necks, upturned noses, and general disgust and disdain for others. It’s the refusal to let love of God and love for others influence our actions and our hearts.
So what does that have to do with a day, week, or month-long celebration of the LGBTQ+ community?
I had this chat with my kids and roommate last night. One, concerned about the pride we’re warned of, asked “But pride is a misnomer, isn’t it?” Is it?
I’ve come to realize that pride, just like fear or love or faith — or any other heavily-charged emotional word — has several different meanings and connotations.
In the case of Pride Month, pride is the opposite of having to hide. If 5% of our population is LGBTQ+, how many of those people feel like they can’t be open about who they are?
“But I’ve never had to hide who I am.” you might protest. “Besides, I am much more than my sexual orientation and gender identity.” Of course you are! What some fail to realize, is that others are more than their sexual orientation and gender identity, too. And until that’s widely accepted, I think it’s worth our efforts to effect change.
Can you imagine getting fired because you casually mentioned it’s your wife’s birthday? Can you imagine having one rental application after another denied, just because you’re married? What if someone beat you up because you were wearing a dress? And what if your family disowned you because you fell in love?
From a Christian perspective, are we really following the commandment to love others as ourselves if we treat LGBTQ+ folks badly?
“But it’s still a sin, certainly not something to be proud of!” some say. “We love you, but your nature is a sin. If you don’t stay quiet about it and resist any urge to act on it, you’re not welcome here!”
Can you see how jarring that might be? And is that even what the good news of the gospel is about? If you believe it’s a sin (I don’t, see below) do you believe any of us live perfectly in this life? Don’t we all rely on grace?
I don’t remember Christ saying much about LGBTQ+ folks in the New Testament. But he did talk about me: I’m divorced. I struggle with being single in a family-oriented church. Can you imagine how much harder it would be for me if people treated me like a pariah for it, saying, “Well I love you, but I don’t love that you’re divorced. You realize Christ said you’re gonna be an adulterer if you get remarried, right? So don’t even think about dating: you’re alone for life. But HEY, other than that, welcome!”
Some wards have treated me badly for my single mom status. Rather than leave the church, I left that congregation. But I was lucky that I had the means to do that. I was lucky I found a group that accepts me and my family.
Not everyone is so lucky. I don’t want people, especially struggling teens, to feel like they have to choose between leaving us and being themselves. You might think I’m wrong, but is that what Christ would want?
Pride for Pride month is the opposite of having to hide. The kind of Pride we’re cautioned to beware of is the opposite of love.