Pride Month. It’s always been interesting to me that this annual LGBTQ event is named after one of the “seven deadly sins” and the passionate arrogance which caused Lucifer’s tumbling fall from heaven. But I do personally understand the definition of “pride” when it comes to the simple desire for dignity. When I lived in the Gay Community in my 20’s and embraced Pride Weekend, I really longed to just feel good about myself. After years of bullying and degrading words spoken over me, I wasn’t going to put up with the shame for one more minute. The LGBTQ community gave me feeling of belonging. As we enter another Pride Month and rainbows appearing all over television, media and corporate sponsors, how can Christians be praying for this community and engage in a thoughtful way?
Pastoral Question and Helpful Tips to Think About
This group of people has been wounded by Christians and are wary of people of faith. How would I engage and care for a gay, lesbian, or transgender person who has a different world view on areas like sexuality, marriage and gender/sexual expression? How would I share my own perspectives, thoughts, and views when they might possibly be offended by them?
Level the Playing Field with Humility
In Matthew 18:21-35, Jesus shares a parable about an unmerciful servant who owes his master an incredible debt. Unable to pay such a huge amount of money, the servant begged for mercy. The compassionate master took pity on his servant and forgave the huge obligation. But then, the wicked servant turns around and shakes down his buddy regarding a debt that was for much less. Let’s just say the master wasn’t too pleased. I think as Christians we forget we were once “enemies of the cross” and were relieved of our great debt. It’s easy now that we’re forgiven to take God’s grace for us but go around shaking others down. We can level the playing field by leading from a humble position.
Have a Missionary Heart
The LGBTQ+ community is a ripe mission field. What would happen if we saw it this way rather than participating in the culture wars? It is a group of people who need to experience God’s love like any other person. I’m surprised Christians get angry when those “living in the world” don’t act like Christians. Doesn’t that seem like an unreasonable expectation? Yet, I love listening to missionaries share about how they interact with “foreign” cultures. They are not surprised or appalled when there are people doing cultural things we’d consider sinful. Missionaries take time to learn what helps to connect with those they want to love and serve. What language and words would be helpful and not harmful?
Grace and Truth Applied
Many in the LGBTQ community have had painful experiences with Christians or churches. They anticipate judgement or condemnation since many have experienced that from Christians or their families. Long, long, seasons of grace may be needed to create a safe place and build back trust. Listen to their story, ask questions and let them be a teacher for what you don’t know. When it comes to God’s truth, it’s all about the timing and what is said (and if God is asking us to say it). Since many LGBTQ+ people have been bludgeoned by the Bible, they need to know the most important truth. The most important truth to share is God loves each of them personally and deeply, which I think they rarely hear.
How do I share my Christian Worldview?
We live in a world of communication riddled with “soundbites.” People want short, terse, pithy answers and replies. Yet when we have opportunities to discuss big, personal topics—these are not “soundbite” items. It might take time to share what we believe the Bible says about sexuality, gender and faith. What is God’s intent and design? Why does God put specific boundaries around our sexual expression? It’s a good thing to think through in case a LGBTQ neighbor or friend would like to know your opinion.
I’ve had many friends feel “put on the spot” when asked the inevitable question, “What do you as a Christian believe about gay marriage or transgender people?” The pressure is on to have a perfect answer, yet this isn’t a “soundbite” moment. It’s perfectly fine to have time to think through your answer. Perhaps you make a time for coffee, hear their experience with Christians and the church. Our goal is to share what we believe to be truthful but share in a way that is grace filled and compassionate.
But the Gospel is Offensive
No matter what our best intentions are—things may still go awry. We try and respond with what we believe compassionately and humbly, and we may still receive an angry response. Our hard work of developing relationships with LGBTQ+ folks may blow up spectacularly in our face. At these points it’s good to remember that in a world full of “relative” truth—believing one universal truth is offensive. Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” The cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. We follow in the footsteps of Jesus when we offer love, care and pray for those who would perceive us as the enemy.
Prayers for the Community in June
One of our Family & Friends group members approached us this year with an idea for a prayer effort surrounding up coming Pride month and the annual parade here in Denver. A few days before the event, we’re going to show up at the park where the parade will begin. In groups of twos and threes we’ll spend about a half hour or so walking around and praying for various things and people surrounding the weekend. Some of the things we’ll be praying for is for the festival itself and the safety of those who are coming to the various events. We’ll also be praying for their (and our) family members and friends and for the presence of the Holy Spirit that grace and truth will be heard and understood.
Last year at this time, Roger wrote an article entitled “Prayers During Pride Month” —he ends this article with a lovely suggestion: “This month, as you see a rainbow flag flying in your neighborhood or in a commercial on TV, I’d like to ask you to pause and pray. Pray for reconciliation in families. Pray for loved ones to be able to truly communicate what is in their hearts and their love for each other. Ask God to intervene in the church, that His purposes will be accomplished and that the enemy’s purposes will be thwarted.”
Will you join us in prayer?
Although he holds a degree in graphic arts, he attributes his ministry qualifications to the “school of hard knocks.” God’s abundant grace continues to be the instrument of growth in his life, and he desires to be firmly grounded in the forgiveness and freedom of relationship with Jesus Christ.
Scott attends a Presbyterian Church.
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