It’s the time of year when the world around us gets a lot more colourful. And this isn’t just because of the colours of summer, it’s also because June is LGBTQ+ Pride month. Streets, shops, and social media feeds are being brightened up with rainbows in recognition of the event.
As Christians who hold to the historic Christian sexual ethic, it can often be hard to know how to think about and respond to Pride month. As I’ve been thinking about that again this year, I’ve found a tweet from Rebecca McLaughlin helpful:
What if the most countercultural thing that Christians can do in pride month is be humble?
My observation is that humility is often not the instinctive response of Christians to Pride month. Frustration, indignation and even disgust seem to be more common responses. For some of these responses, there may be some justification. Part of the sentiment behind Pride is a celebration of ways of living that go against God’s good plan. Some of the ideas promoted through Pride are not honouring to God or good for human flourishing. I can acknowledge that there are elements of what Pride stands for that we should be concerned about.
But I also believe there is a place for a response of humility. In fact, I think any Christian response or reaction to Pride must be rooted in and shaped by gospel humility. Here are a few forms of humility we should embody in response to Pride.
Humility about our treatment of LGBTQ+ people
Pride was birthed out of some early movements of gay and gender non-conforming people who bravely stood up against the mistreatment, in some cases brutal mistreatment, of people like them. It is a celebration of the fact that we are a society where hatred and mistreatment of sexual and gender minorities is no longer seen as acceptable, and it’s a statement that where such unacceptable attitudes and actions do still exist, we must continue to work to oppose them. This is something Christians can, and should, get fully behind. We know that all people are created in the image of God and therefore all people have inherent value and dignity.
Pride can also be a painful reminder for Christians that we were, and sometimes still are, guilty of such unacceptable treatment of LGBTQ+ people and that we weren’t, when we should have been, at the forefront of the pushback against such treatment. Pride is a time for us as the body of Christ to humbly acknowledge where we have gone wrong and to search our hearts and our actions for any ways in which we are going wrong now.
Humility about our own brokenness and sin
In part, Pride is a celebration of some of the ways in which our sexualities can be broken and impacted by sin. This too should lead us to humility. No one of us can claim that our experience of sexuality has not been impacted by sin. We are all sexually broken. We all experience sexual desires that seek to draw us away from God’s good plan. This is true of every adult human that has ever lived – with the one important exception of Jesus.
None of us can claim to be sexually pure based on our own thoughts and actions. We have no basis on which to claim to be better than anyone else.
And if Pride celebrates some forms of sexual relationship that the Bible would consider sinful, this too should evoke a response of humility. Every single one of us has sinned sexually and will sin sexually. None of us can claim to be sexually pure based on our own thoughts and actions. We have no basis on which to claim to be better than anyone else. And strikingly, the one person for whom this is not true, the one person who never sinned sexually and could legitimately have stood in judgement over others, exhibited the most incredible love and humility when he interacted with sexual sinners (see John 4:7-29 and 8:1-11).
Humility about our salvation
Perhaps most importantly, we should be humble in response to Pride, because our lives could so easily have been different. Why am I not embracing my sexuality as my identity? Why am I not hooking up with loads of guys or living in a same-sex marriage? Why am I not looking for satisfaction in the wrong places and rejecting God’s plan? Because of Christ, because of his love, his grace, his action. It’s got nothing to do with me. Left to my own devices it would never have happened. It’s all to do with him. I have no grounds from which to look down on others, no reason to think that I’m better than them, no justification for pride. I have only innumerable reasons to be grateful, to want to share the good news of the love of Christ with others, and to be humble.
How should a Christian respond to LGBTQ+ Pride? Above all, with gospel-shaped humility.