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April 18

How Christians Can Respond To Pride Month

Every year, when June rolls around, social media becomes filled with rainbow-colored profile pictures and logos. It seems like everyone from your favorite athleisure brand to your local hardware store is doing something to declare their support for LGBTQ+ people. But this quote unquote “support” often feels disingenuous, exploitative, and tacky–like just a way to make money, not actually engage with the ideas in Pride Month.

This trend has been dubbed, “rainbow capitalism” and it inspires all sorts of memes and even SNL sketches. Even if Christians and the LQBTQ+ community tend to dislike “rainbow washing” for different reasons, it’s something both groups actually tend to agree is culturally damaging.

But how did we get here as a culture? How did Pride Month become so important that Coke will change their logo for a month? How should Christians respond? How does Jesus fit into this? And why all the rainbows?

How did Pride Month get started?

1969 was a historic year in the U.S. Hippie culture reached its peak with Woodstock, Neil Armstrong took a “giant leap for mankind” with a small step on the moon, but most importantly for our conversation, in June, the catalyst for Pride Month was taking place in New York City.

What would become known as the “Stonewall Uprising” or “Stonewall Riots” was a violent conflict between the police and gay men at a popular gay bar called the Stonewall Inn. After continued harassment by said police, the gay community decided to fight back, and, in doing so, brought gay activism and pride into the collective consciousness of Americans. When Bill Clinton officially declared June as Pride Month in 1999, he said, “Gays and lesbians, their families and friends, celebrate the anniversary of Stonewall every June in America as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month.”

In the 20 plus years since Pride Month’s official introduction, the celebration has grown to incorporate a wide variety of “queer” or non-standard sexual identities like transgender, intersex, and bisexual. In fact, the rainbow flag has become a symbol celebrating the various different aspects and expressions of the many “queer” sexual identities.

And the keyword there is identity. Our culture is at a place where identity isn’t always seen as something you’re given, rather as something you can decide for yourself. This is especially true when it comes to your sexuality.

At its heart, Pride Month is a celebration for people who place part, or all, of their identity in their non-standard or “queer” sexuality. But it goes beyond just identity… because where we place our identity is often how we define our humanity.

In his book, “The Rise of Triumph of the Modern Self,” Carl R. Trueman puts it plainly: “While sex may be presented today as little more than a recreational activity, sexuality is presented as that which lies at the very heart of what it means to be an authentic person.”

For people in the LGBTQ+ community, their sexuality is one of the most important parts of their identity, and, by extension, one of the most important parts of their human-ness. For them, Pride Month is a month-long celebration of, essentially, being themselves and being alive.

How should Christians respond to Pride Month?

This brings us to the question of how Christians should respond to Pride Month. Should we boycott every company that uses a rainbow-themed logo on social media? Should we try to remind people of the purpose and beauty of sexuality? Should we just ignore it and go on with our lives?

June is certainly a complicated month. The queer community and Christians are often at odds with one another. If being queer is part of what makes you human, your “true self,” a Christian arguing that it’s sinful has pretty big implications. According to the Public Religion Research Institute, nearly half of people who left their faith tradition did so because of “negative teaching about the treatment of LGBTQ people” with the percentage being even higher for people under the age of thirty. Yet, in all of this, we believe there’s still space for patience, conversation, and love.

We also believe that in Genesis–and throughout the Bible–God makes it very clear the design he intended for sex, sexuality, and marriage, and this design is good. As Jackie Hill Perry in her book “Gay Girl, Good God” puts it,

“God made them male and female—two words not crafted by a person, or group, or society, or culture, or America for that matter, but used by God to describe what He’d made and exactly what He’d designed them to be. Out of the same God came two different bodies. And after creating them, lastly, after all that had been made before, God looked at them and everything else and called it and them good.

We also believe that these designs, as well as the commands of God given to us in the Bible, set a standard for how humans are supposed to live.

A Christ-like response to Pride Month

So as Christians, what should we do in June? This is a complicated question, but any time life is complicated, it’s good to check what Jesus said and did.

In the Gospel of Matthew, a group of religious leaders approach Jesus and ask a common question of the day: which commandment from the Old Testament is the most important?

Jesus answers “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

For Jesus, loving God and loving people were the most important things for humans to do. And the way we love God? Jesus himself says simply, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

Our first priority should be to follow, to be our best ability, the will of God. Yet, our second priority, and part of that will, is to love people, including all of the people who celebrate Pride month. Jesus spent a lot of time with people who weren’t living according to God’s designs for life, but He understood that belonging comes before belief, and He knew that He was their true hope.

This means it’s important for us to hold to the design for sexuality that God intended, but also to find tangible ways to love and serve others, even if they disagree with or don’t live according to that design. All of this is with the hope that God will grab hold of their hearts and draw them to Himself.

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