How Should the Church Respond to Pride Month?
It is officially June and that means it is also LGBTQ Pride month. This month brings pride parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia and concerts, and events that attract millions of participants around the world. Memorials are held during this month for those members of the community who have been lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS. The purpose of the commemorative month is to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally. (loc.gov)
June was chosen as LGBTQ Pride month because of the Stonewall Riots (this year is the 50th anniversary), where members of the LGBTQ community fought back against police raids of bars in Greenwich, NY causing riots to break out at the end of June. This month has only just begun and as Christians we should already be heartbroken, but not for the reasons many might think.
We should be heartbroken by the headlines of hate and violence against the LGBTQ community that we see come across our news tickers: Neo Nazi’s coming against a pride parade in Detroit where 2 gay men and a transgender woman were also murdered in a separate incident earlier this month; the assault and robbery on a London bus that left a lesbian couple bloodied as their attackers fled; a gay man shot and killed by a masked gunman who jumped out from a car in front of his house. That last attack being so brazen that the whole event was witnessed by a neighbor. This is what disgusts me as a follower of Jesus. The senseless hate and violence poured out on human beings simply because they are part of the LGBTQ community.
Unfortunately, the church often finds its way onto the wrong side during pride month. Just scan social media at this time of year and you will see many who profess to be followers of Jesus adding to the hate and vitriol that leads to incidents like these. You can see evangelists on street corners bearing signs declaring the sins of the LGBTQ community, preachers claiming that the LGBTQ community is the reason for all the bad things that happen to America, and many more churches that are less vocal but more judgmental, silently looking down on anyone of the LGBTQ community that would ever set foot through, or perhaps even near, their doors.
But in times like these, with hot button issues such as LGBTQ pride month, we really must ask that old cliché, what would Jesus do?
While there is nothing in the Bible that shows Jesus interacting with someone from the LGBTQ community we can glean from other interactions what He would do. A passage that sticks out is a rather famous one in the Gospel of John chapter 8:
3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” 6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
(John 8:3 – 11 ESV)
How can this be??? This woman is clearly breaking the laws of God, she was caught red handed! Surely Jesus, who is God in the flesh, will condemn this woman as the law of Moses commanded, there is no other option right?!? Well, maybe there is: the way of mercy and love. Jesus is the only one in this crowd without sin, therefore the only one truly able to throw stones at this woman, yet He shows us the heart of God in not condemning this woman at all but urging her to live a life free from the sin that has entangled her. If the church is called to be to be imitators of Jesus, is this not the posture the church should take to reflect the nature of Jesus?
Far too often the church, thinking it needs to defend God and His laws, forgets that all fall short of His glory and lose sight of the fact that we are all flawed humans who need Jesus to tell us “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
In our vision statement at Revelry Church we have these words, “We are a community where the least of these, the outcast, the addict, the sexually diverse, the thug, the broken hearted, the lost and the found can call home.” We truly believe this. We are all in this boat together, sinners in need of grace, and the gospel is just that: the grace of Jesus towards us. As Paul writes,
“ 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 ESV)
If we all simply knew how much we needed the grace of Jesus maybe instead of condemnation and judgment the church could respond with compassion. There could be open dialogues instead of closed ears, knowledge instead of ignorance, and grace instead of stones and maybe, just maybe, the church would step back and realize the broken humans that we all are and we could learn to truly love like Jesus and the hate and violence could finally cease. If you are part of the LGBTQ community, you have a home at Revelry Church.