We all know it’s coming and in various ways we are bracing for it. You’ll be navigating workplaces, city streets, social media feeds, and corporate events celebrating it. The first thing to understand is that “Pride month” does not mean the same thing to everyone.
For many, Pride month is seen as a month of inclusivity and tolerance where people are seen and reminded that they matter. In significant ways, these are values that Christians share. But there’s so much more to it.
The message of Pride is not that you matter because you are created in the image of God, a message Christians not only agree with but started. No, Pride is a declaration of independence against nature and nature’s God. It is a claim that we can do whatever we want and no one can stop us. Live your truth. Live authentically.
In addition, for many, the symbolism has come to represent oppression, intolerance, and hate. The rainbow flag, which has now become much more than a rainbow, represents a movement that is pushing speech codes, that has closed businesses, and harassed people because they did not share a commitment to the sexual revolution or would not affirm that men can become women and get pregnant.
It’s interesting that Pride month falls right in the middle of Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. On Memorial Day, we celebrate those who gave their lives for our freedom. On the Fourth of July, we celebrate our independence from tyranny and those who pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor so we could live as free people. Our nation, and those who died for it, get one day. But the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence get an entire month. If that doesn’t seem right, it’s not.
But let’s not get angry or panic. How do we think soberly, act biblically, and maintain our joy as we wade through this month-long celebration of sin?
Here are a few things to remember.
1. Pride celebrations are not new.
Although pride parades down the streets of America’s cities are a relatively recent development, people making a declaration of independence from God is so old it is almost cliché.
In the Garden of Eden, God told Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16-17; 3:2-3). However, Eve, with Satan’s help, convinced herself that doing things her way would help her become like God. Perhaps she decided she was spiritual, not religious.
She observed that the tree was good for food, that it was a delight to the eyes, and that it was desirable to make one wise (Genesis 3:6). She convinced herself that her rebellion would not be rebellion at all but virtue. She had followed the old rules long enough and found them to be stifling of her individuality. She was ready to chart a new path and live her truth and even convinced her husband to join her celebration. They may have even felt a sense of pride as they freed themselves from the bondage of God’s rules.
Basically, Adam and Eve started these parades and we’ve all participated in various ways and with varying degrees of enthusiasm.
2. You can love the way God wants you to or the way the world wants you to, but not both.
Much will be said about love this month. T-shirts, memes, and parade signs will declare that “love is love” and that “love wins.” Whether Christians can agree with these sentiments depends on how “love” is defined. Proponents of the sexual revolution would have us believe that we show love for someone by affirming identities, indulging desires, and encouraging each other to “live your truth.” But God’s definition of love is very different.
Scripture reminds us that “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). But then it goes on to remind us that love “does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6). This crucial verse is where God’s understanding of love and the world’s understanding of love diverge. God’s love forbids the celebration of things God does not celebrate. The world’s understanding of love requires it.
This means that a Christian’s unwillingness to celebrate Pride month will be seen by the world as an act of hate and by God as an act of love. Christians must choose whose definition of love they will accept.
3. No one is beyond the love or reach of Jesus.
While Christians are right to separate themselves from celebrations of sin, we should be equally careful to avoid a different but equally bad kind of pride — self-righteousness. If Christians have any goodness within ourselves, we do not deserve the credit. After all, “[God] saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).
Rather than a sense of self-righteousness, Jesus modeled how our hearts should respond to people who are lost:
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest’” (Matthew 9:36-38).
When we see crowds who are lost, we should be moved to compassion, not self-righteousness.
4. Don’t be afraid.
This month, some will encounter a city street lined with rainbow flags or unwittingly expose their child to sexual revolutionary propaganda on “Blues Clues” and be prone to despair. Don’t despair.
Fear is never from God. (2 Timothy 1:7). Whatever situation you are dealing with, God is not surprised by it, nor is it beyond His control. However, He knows we are prone to worry, which is why Peter encourages us to cast all our anxieties on him (1 Peter 5:7). The same God who formed the mountains and put the planets into orbit is aware of the situation and handling it.
The good news is that our moments of weakness are the moments God does His best work in us. While the culture takes pride in their independence from God, we should boast in our dependence:
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Maybe we should start our own pride parade; it would be kind of the same but also very different.
5. Being a Christian is supposed to feel weird.
One of the challenges of Pride month is that Christians often feel different. Most of us would prefer not to feel different. We want to blend in and be noticed only for how nice we are to people. But when someone at work is going from office to office asking people if they want a rainbow sticker for their window, the only way to blend in is to conform. So now you feel different.
But that’s how it’s supposed to feel. This is not our home. “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11). We aren’t supposed to do or love the same things as the world around us. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). If being a Christian makes you feel different than other people, good. You are different. The real problem would be if you never felt different.
6. Don’t give an inch.
It’s possible to avoid feeling different, just do what everyone else is doing. Just provide your preferred pronouns or tolerate a rainbow flag in your office window. Other times, all you must do is keep your mouth shut. But don’t do it. The path of compromise only seems easy, but it’s not. After all, “The fear of man is a snare. But whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe” (Proverbs 29:25).
It’s easy to rationalize seemingly small compromises. All Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego needed to do to avoid being thrown into a furnace was bow (Daniel 3). Surely, God would understand that they weren’t actually worshipping the idol. Right? They could have easily told themselves they needed to stay alive and maintain a good relationship with the king who had shown them so much trust. After all, God couldn’t use them if they were dead. But remember, it’s not you who is going to do the work, it’s God. God did change the heart of the King, but he did not use their influence, he used their obedience. Give Him your obedience.
7. Remember what you’re saying “YES” to.
During Pride month, Christians are required to say no to some things. We can’t participate in sin (Ephesians 5:11) nor can we celebrate evil (1 Corinthians 13:6). So you may be accused of being “anti” everything. These are moments it’s helpful to remember that anytime you say “no” to one thing its because you’re saying “yes” to something else. Something better.
When we say “no” to doing whatever you want sexually, it’s because we are saying “yes” to virtue, discipline, delayed gratification, and the satisfaction and intimacy that comes from forming relationships God’s way. When we say “no” to the idea that boys can become girls, we are saying “yes” to finding our created purpose. When we say “no” to surrogacy so that a child can be placed with two dads, it’s because we are saying “yes” to each child being known and loved by both their parents. When we say “no” to bad ideas, it’s because we’re saying “yes” to better ideas. Every time.
8. Pray for those who curse you.
One reason Christians shouldn’t be surprised when we are misunderstood or mistreated is because Jesus spent significant time telling us what to do when it happens. “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:28). Our responsibility is not to avoid every conflict, but to respond to it correctly when it happens.
That means we have to pray for those who treat us poorly. “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27). Praying for those who treat us poorly helps us love people, even if they don’t love us back. “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (Matthew 5:46) This is the goal of every day of every month. Pride month changes nothing, it just gives us more opportunities to love people the way Jesus does.
9. Pride comes before a fall.
It’s ironic that those who started “Pride” events used the term “pride” to describe them. They named their entire movement after one of the seven deadly sins; a sin that Proverbs assures us is the prelude to our destruction: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). It is almost as if God was looking to make it obvious what was actually happening here. Just as we would be wise to avoid celebrating “Wrath Month” or a “Lust Parade,” Christians should be wary of celebrating pride. After all, we know what happens next.
10. God will have the last word.
In Daniel chapter 5, Belshazzar, the king of Babylon, throws a party while an invading army is gathering around the city. He was so confident that the walls that had protected him his whole life would continue to protect him that he mocked an invading army by inviting his military to party rather than prepare for battle. Belshazzar was very confident, or at least he wanted to project confidence. Then God interrupted his party.
In a scene that gives us the phrase “the writing on the wall” the hand of God showed up and wrote a message on the wall. The interesting thing about the message is that Belshazzar was not able to read it, after all, he summoned Daniel to interpret it for him. Nevertheless, “the king’s face grew pale, and his thoughts alarmed him; and his hip joints went slack, and his knees began knocking together.” What we see here is what happens when fake power meets real power. The world is filled with people who have some form of cultural or political power, but when they are confronted with real power, their confidence disappears immediately.
Pride month is fake power celebrating its fake power, and it will survive only until God decides He has had enough. And that moment is coming. Our job is to make sure we’re doing what we can to remind people where the real power is and that opposing Him will never be a good decision — which is the opposite of pride.
Joseph Backholm is Senior Fellow for Biblical Worldview and Strategic Engagement at Family Research Council.
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