A Christian Response to Pride Month

Note: This post was originally published as a bulletin article with the Jesuit Institute of South Africa on 30/05/2024.   

Pride Month brings up many different and often divisive feelings among various groups of people, particularly in Christian circles.

What is Pride Month Really About?

One of the reasons that Pride Month receives so much hatred and pushback is because of misunderstandings of what its main purpose is. Pride Month is not about convincing your children to be gay or transgender. It is not about erasing the reality of cisgender heterosexuality. Pride Month is not about elevating one group of people over another or about being prideful in the sense of being selfish and arrogant.

It should be noted that like any movement, some people do have a tendency of taking things to extremes. The problem is when people focus on the extremes and base their opinions on them as if they are the norm.

Pride Month exists because we, as a society (and often as a church), have given many queer people the impression that they are better off dead than gay. Pride Month is about celebrating the rights that LGBTQ+ folk have earned so far and acknowledging the long road still ahead of us to achieve full recognition, justice and equality.

For me, as an ordained minister in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, Pride Month is about acknowledging and declaring that LGBTQ+ folk are beloved children of God. It is not about celebrating vanity, but recognizing human dignity in each and every person.

How should Christians respond to Pride Month?

I understand that not all Christians can support same-sex relationships due to their church teaching or their theological beliefs about the bible and God's creation. I am not trying to convince them otherwise. However, I do think that much of the hatred spewed at the LGBTQ+ community by Christians is incredibly unloving and un-Christlike. To picket outside of Pride rallies with signs saying that LGBTQ+ folk are going to hell is not winning any souls for God's Kingdom. To preach a Gospel of hatred and exclusion is antithesis to the way of Christ. Rallying people together to boycott Woolworths because of their Pride campaign is not the godly win that many think it is.

Building a Bridge

Catholic Priest and Author, Father James Martin SJ, has written a wonderful book that describes how Christians can listen to and learn from the LGBTQ+ community in respectful, life-giving ways to all involved. It is called Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT community can enter into a relationship of respect, compassion, and sensitivity. While primarily written for Catholics, I believe it can benefit many mainline and evangelical denominations as well.

What I appreciate most about Father Martin's approach is that he acknowledges that he is dealing with a divisive topic and there are good people who hold deep personal convictions on both sides of the argument. However, he stresses that while people are debating their theology, there are real people who are dealing with the consequences of rejection every single day. As Father James says, “we need to ensure that our discussions should not close the door on people being loved and experiencing the grace of God.”

This book provides helpful tools and suggestions as to how the gap between the Church of Christ and the LGBTQ+ community can be bridged. Father Martin suggests that both the Church and the LGBTQ+ community have roles to play in this endeavour.

The truth is, we can all learn much from each other and the best way to do so is by listening sincerely and respectfully, no matter what our personal convictions may be.

“It is impossible to experience a person's life, or to be compassionate, if you do not listen to the person or if you do not ask questions.” – James Martin SJ.

So perhaps this Pride Month, we can commit ourselves to listening, asking questions and learning. We might not change our personal convictions, but perhaps we may encounter God at work in more surprising ways and places than we could have ever expected.

Image Source: Tristan B


Popular Posts

Leap of Faith

The God of Running, Talents and Passions

Harmony of Grace