Many people now recognize June as Pride Month.
In honor of pride, I want to address an issue I’ve often seen come up come up in religious communities, especially Christian communities.
But first, I’ll recap my story:
(If you’ve already heard this and/or are not interested in the personal side, feel free to skip the next section.)
– When I came out as bisexual in high school, and learned that many people I care about are also not straight in some way, I thought religion wasn’t for me.
– It seemed that many religions, including the one I grew up in, valued straightness highly. I tried not to think too hard about my contradicting beliefs, and eventually stopped going to church for other reasons.
– Years later, when I started going to church again, with my spouse, in a marriage that allowed me to easily pass as straight, I thought acknowledging the queer part of my identity wasn’t for me.
– I thought it was time to just be quiet about part of who I was, let people assume I was straight, and definitely not question the social constructs of gender. I was a church-goer now, and that meant fitting into the cishet box and keeping any of my disagreements internal.
– It wasn’t until about a year ago, when in my frustration, I began searching for any Christian organizations that were inclusive of the lgbtq+ community, that I finally found an organization which, in addition to creating queer Christian content, also hosted an online community and support group on Discord*, full of people of faith who happen to be gay, bi+, trans+, or queer in any other way, or loving allies.
– I’ve learned so much since then, and it’s the best, most loving community I’ve ever been part of. I’m so thankful that this year, I have so many lovely, divinely created, new friends to celebrate Pride with.
…and that brings us to the issue in question:
A question often comes up after people of faith go through the process of learning why it’s so important to accept and affirm the identities of queer people, and learning the biblical case for affirmation.
That question often looks something like this:
“Ok, I accept gay people. But the whole Gay Pride thing?
…Isn’t pride a sin?”
Is Pride a sin?
The short answer is no.
In the contexts where this issue comes up–the context of Gay Pride / LGBT+ Pride in general, the context of Pride festivals and parades, the context of historically marginalized people taking Pride in finally telling the truth about who they are–in these contexts, “Pride” does not mean the same thing as the “pride” those with this concern are thinking of.
English is a language where it’s not uncommon for one word to have multiple meanings. (English is also not the language Jesus spoke, even though it’s the language many of us have to read an interpretation of his words in.)
In the case of this particular multi-use word:
- We have the word “pride” as a way of referring to the attitude Jesus condemned in religious leaders and other people of high status. It’s the attitude of “I am better than these other people. My respectability is higher, my accomplishments are greater, and I deserve more praise and recognition. I am so glad to not be those other people.” It’s a dangerous level of inflated ego that results in contempt for the other, greedy attention-seeking, and hateful speech and behavior.
- We also have “Pride” in the sense of “the opposite of shame.”
Because language is confusing, I will refer to the first definition listed above as “pridefulness,” and the second one as “Pride,” with a capital P.
Is Pride a sin?
The short answer is no.
The long answer is this:
– pridefulness is a sin
(in many religions, including Christianity,
and even in the secular world, is considered an undesirable, negative behavior)
– Pride is self-acceptance, a healing of forced shame, a reclaiming of identities that generations of people were suppressed for, a remembrance of the violence and discrimination that queer people have historically faced, and a recognition of those who still face discrimination and hatred today.
– Pride is a celebration of how far society has come towards acceptance, and a promise to keep trying to do better and push for love and equality.
– Pride is not “I’m better and more deserving than others,” but instead is “I’m not hiding and lying anymore; I’m proud of my truth, and finally making myself visible because I am not less than others; I am equally in need of basic respect and love.”
Pride is not the same as pridefulness.
So no, LGBT+ Pride is not wrong.
It is not the hatred, the inflated sense of self-importance, or the contempt for others that we know pridefulness to be.
If you are part of the LGBT+ community, be proud (if you are in a position where it is safe to be out), and remember that you are loved.
If you are an ally, encourage your LGBT+ family, friends, and congregation members, reject the worldly hate, and show us love, be our neighbors, and rejoice with us that we live in a society that has made so much progress that we can have Pride Month.
Happy Pride Month!
I have occasionally in this and other public posts used the term “Queer” as an easy umbrella label for the community of all who are homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, ace-spec, transgender, nonbinary, genderfluid, or in any other way, not both heterosexual and cisgender (a combination commonly shortened to “Cis-Het” or “cishet” for simplicity).
Please be aware, when you see people of historically marginalized sexualities and gender identities using the word “Queer,” that it is a reclaimed label.
“Queer” was in the past (and sometimes still is) used as a slur by Cis-Het people, intended as an insult.
If you are a Cis-Het person, please make sure to only use “Queer” if you know for sure that the person/people you are addressing are comfortable applying that label to themselves.
We don’t all feel the same way about this word, and that’s ok, and should be respected.
Thank you! ❤
* If you are a queer Christian (or Christian-adjacent person of faith) or an ally to the community and are interested in joining the support group on Discord, feel free to send me a private message here or on Instagram for a link.
(Invite links expire every seven days, which is why including one in this post wouldn’t work.)
*That online community was formerly run by Queer Christian Family Values (aka QCFV), founded by Alex Burchnell.
Due to changes in the founder’s career path
(Alex is on his way to becoming a pastor, which keeps him very busy!),
the support group is undergoing some changes, including a name and logo change.
The official name is still undecided as of the time of this post.
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Have a great week! ❤