Vespers: Happy Pride

I wrote the following for a summer vespers video.

Happy Pride!

That is something I hear a lot and say a lot during the month of June.  It’s Gay Pride month, so people who are LGBTQ and their allies are prone to telling each other Happy Pride!

Pride is an interesting concept.  Pride is not always looked at in a good way.  It is considered one of the seven deadly sins, after all.  But is that what LGBTQ people mean when they talk about pride?

No.  Merriam-Webster also defines pride as “a reasonable or justifiable self-respect.”  Pride can be about arrogance but it can also mean that you respect yourself.  For Christians, it can mean that we see ourselves as God sees us; as someone that is fearfully and wonderfully made.

It was 30 years ago that I had an experience where I experienced pride.  The pride I felt didn’t emanate from me but from the Creator of the universe.  

In 1992, I graduated from college and was coming to terms with my own sexuality.  I knew what I felt, but I had not yet accepted myself.  I was lying in bed one Saturday morning when I felt this sense of being in the presence of God. As I sat in God’s presence, I came clean to God of my affection for men.  What I felt next was a sense of warmth that I can only define as God’s love.  I was accepted. God had pride in me and because of that, I could have pride in who I was.

I read something recently in a source that one might not consider LGBTQ-friendly that I think describes what pride can mean from a Christian viewpoint. Sam Wan and Akos Balogh write that for many LGBTQ persons, pride is about survival. They write:

“For some, Pride is about surviving invisibility ‘to those who deny the truth of our existence, or surviving toxic shame: ‘I just got tired of fighting and hiding and feeling shame about myself and having that shame just spill over into so many different areas of my life.’ [10] Pride month is a moment to acknowledge that the privilege of merely existing as a human being made in the image of God has been, and continues to be, denied to some LGBTIQ+ people.”

They continue by defining Pride in light of the Christian faith. They write:

“Pride is about seeking life, and life to the full; the very core desires that every human being has. We might disagree about the means in which life is sought and the telos of this ‘full life’, but the underlying intentions of seeking life, surviving, existing, and having dignity is human, noble, and our very own.”

I remember reading that the very first Pride festival in the Twin Cities took place in 1972, 50 years ago.  The participants gathered in a circle trying to keep away from the gaze of the Minneapolis police which at that time wasn’t friendly to gays.  They met to declare to each other that they existed and they did it with danger only a stone’s throw away.  It reminds me of the Israelites sitting in their homes during the first Passover with their sandals on in order to get ready and leave for promised land while in the shadow of the Pharoah.

Jesus says in John 10:10 that thieves come to steal and destroy, just as there are forces that seek to harm those who are LGBTQ.  But Jesus comes to give life, an abundant life.

Knowing that God loves you as you is a way of living life to the full, the way that God intends.  This is a message that we in the church need to share especially with LGBTQ brothers and sisters who are outside of the doors of the church where they are told that God doesn’t love them.  But we believe God made God’s LGBTQ children and it is a message we must share.

I wanted to close this by saying this to LGBTQ sisters and brothers.  You are loved.  You are loved by the God of the universe, the one who came in the form of Jesus to live among us, die for us and rise again to give us life abundant.  Know that you are loved, by God, by me and countless others.  Happy Pride.  Thanks be to God!

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