We’re wrapping up Pride month in a year that’s been loaded with anti-queer political power plays and social battles. Now in 2023, just as much as ever, we need Pride month to affirm and celebrate the lives of people who must constantly justify their existence. Especially as Christians, we should celebrate Pride.
Preaching about other people’s sins
For years, I was enmeshed in conservative, evangelical communities. I was loving, but non-affirming towards the LGBTQ+ community. I’d been taught that being queer is a sin, and I didn’t really question it. At the same time, I did feel that the Christian community placed too much emphasis on preaching against the sin of being gay.
Something in my spirit felt uneasy with the overemphasis on a sin the majority of the Church didn’t seem tempted with. Rather than looking inward and examining our own selves, church leaders repeatedly focused our attention on “those people” and “their sin.” The notion of othering people didn’t sit well with me.
Pushing people away from God
Over time, I began to listen to my gay friends talk about their younger selves’ desperate prayers to God to take the gay away. I heard about their painful ostracism by the Church. They told me about their contemplations of and attempts at suicide. My heart broke.
I listened to soul-cries of wanting so badly to hold onto faith in Jesus, yet being told over and over and over how disgusting and unacceptable their very being is to God.
Clearly, the fervent preaching against homosexuality was pushing people away from God.
None of this seemed like the God I know.
Even worse, the fervent preaching against homosexuality was pushing people toward isolation, depression, and suicide.
According to reporting in The Guardian, more than 50% of trans and non-binary youth considered suicide within the past year. And the CDC outlines that lesbian, gay, and bisexual teens in seventh through twelfth grades are more than twice as likely to attempt suicide as their heterosexual peers.
Recently, a popular meme has been circulating through social media. It simply states, “Pride isn’t about turning straight kids into queer kids. Pride is about not turning queer kids into dead kids.” Exactly!
Once I learned the statistics, I realized that if we claim to be pro-life, then we cannot continue a practice that too often leads to death.
Re-examining the Bible
So what do we do when the things we’ve been taught seem to contradict the loving Jesus we believe in? We go back to the Bible to see what we’re missing, to try to make it make sense.
As I grappled with the tension between what I’d been taught and its results in my friends’ and family members’ lives, I began to read articles and listen to interviews and sermons that challenged the interpretation of the Bible that I’d always been taught. Through this, I realized that not everyone who follows Jesus holds the same view as the conservative, evangelical churches I’d been a part of.
Over time, I discovered books like “Does Jesus Really Love Me” by Jeff Chu, “Unclobber” by Colby Martin, “God and the Gay Christian” by Matthew Vines, and “Changing Our Mind” by David P. Gushee. These books confirmed what I’d already come to realize: it’s very possible to love and follow Jesus, believe the Bible, and affirm the LGBTQ+ community.
Inspecting the fruit
The thing that really changed my mind, though, was an examination of the fruit.
We’ve heard this concept of examining the fruit our whole lives in church, right? I remember being told in Sunday School that we’re supposed to be fruit inspectors. Over and over, I heard preachers warn congregations against false teachers: “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:16)
So I examined the fruit.
Teaching and preaching that insists being queer is a sin, even an abomination to God, bears the fruit of death. Death of relationships. Death of church-belonging. Death of the assurance of being loved by God. Death of gay and lesbian teenagers. Death of non-binary and trans young people. Death.
On the other hand, the loving affirmation and celebration of queer people bears the fruit of life. When queer young people are accepted and affirmed, they are less likely to feel isolated, less likely to feel depressed, less likely to contemplate ending their lives. Pride equals life.
Just as I’ve seen many rainbow flags in celebration of Pride month, I’ve also seen many conservatives attempting to remind everyone that the rainbow is God’s sign. To that, I agree – sort of.
As the story in Genesis goes, the rainbow is a promise that worldwide death by a flood will never happen again. The rainbow is a reminder that life carried on in the midst of death. The rainbow is a promise of life.
And I think that’s a pretty fitting symbol for Pride month. If you fall under the vibrant LGBTQ+ umbrella, you’re alive! You’re alive in spite of so many attempts to kill your relationships, to kill your confidence, to kill your access to God, to kill your spirit, to kill your very body.
You’re alive! You’re loved! You’re celebrated for being exactly who you are made to be! Let the rainbow flags fly proudly!
Celebrating pride month
Because I’m a Christian, I’m all about life. I’m in favor of drawing people toward the abundant life found in God. I’m in favor of the sort of teaching and preaching that bears good fruit. Because I’m a Christian, I want to encourage and celebrate life and love. That’s why this Christian celebrates pride month!