How to Respond to Pride Month
June is Pride month across Canada and the Western world. It seems that everywhere you look, people are celebrating the right of people to identify themselves as whatever gender they want and marry a member of whichever sex they want. You simply need to walk down the street to see homeowners flying rainbow flags on their front porches, corporations changing their logos to celebrate Pride, or a city installing rainbow sidewalks around town.
So how can orthodox Christians respond to this pervasive celebration of Pride, and everything it stands for?
It’s relatively easy to respond within our Christian churches, homes, and schools, where we affirm the truth of Scripture (although even here Christians increasingly differ). We can reference Proverbs 16:18 and explain how pride is not something to celebrate, but an attitude of the heart that goes before a fall. It’s easy to quote Romans 1 and explain how same-sex activity violates God’s norm for creation. It’s standard to read through the creation account in Genesis 1 and see how God created humanity as male and female.
But how can we push back against the celebration of LGBTQ2S+ identities in a culture that no longer recognizes God’s Word as authoritative and may even call the biblical prescriptions bigoted and harmful?
Arguing Against the Celebration of Pride
One strategy is to push back against the celebration of Pride. This approach suggests that governments and major corporations should strive for neutrality in our diverse country. For instance, we could argue that, if a local government isn’t willing to fly a Christian flag or install a pro-life sidewalk, then they shouldn’t choose to fly a rainbow flag. We can argue that supporting some political causes and not others is a form of discrimination that governments, in particular, ought not to participate in. One municipal government in British Columbia recently followed this line of logic of their own accord when presented with a request to fly a rainbow flag during Pride month.
This can be an effective argument because its fundamental premise – that all people and groups should be treated equally – is largely shared throughout Canadian culture. Treating people and groups equally and trying to be neutral in a diverse and multicultural country is an easier course of action than trying to decide which causes to support and explaining the rationale for why one is better than another.
The problem with this approach is that it fundamentally agrees with the core value of Pride month itself: that all people should be treated equally even when it comes to allowing or celebrating immoral things such as same-sex marriage or gender-transition surgeries. It doesn’t break with liberalism’s god of freedom and choice, but simply uses their own argument against them.
Arguing Against the Celebration of Pride
A much more challenging, but a more biblical, response to the celebration of Pride is to focus on the Pride itself rather than the celebration of it. We shouldn’t simply try to prevent the celebration of a worldview but push back against the worldview itself. Doing this with speech that is always “gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Colossians 4:6) is a difficult task in a post-Christian society, but here are some suggestions:
- The feminist argument: The LGBTQ2+ movement seeks to discard the characteristics and identities that make women unique and different from men. Men and women are equal in the sense that they both, as human beings, should have the same rights and freedoms, but men and women are not interchangeable. There are biological, psychological, and ontological differences between men and women that we must preserve, rather than blurring the line between men and women. For instance, boys can like the colour pink and girls the colour blue without suggesting to each child that they must be transgender. We can see these concerns bubble up when biological men who self-identify as women compete in women’s sports or when a Supreme Court nominee can’t define what a woman is.
- The teleological (purpose) argument: Human reproductive systems and sexual activity have a natural purpose to it, namely procreation. The purpose of sex, either from a religious or an evolutionary perspective, is ultimately propagation. Of course, human reproduction can only arise naturally in a relationship between a male and a female; the male and female reproductive systems are meant to complement each other for the purpose of procreation. To put it even more provocatively, each human being only has half of a complete reproductive system; the “other half” of the reproductive system lies in another person of the opposite sex. Same-sex relationships are entirely incapable of natural reproduction because two male or two female reproductive systems are not designed to work together. Same-sex sexual activity by its very nature rejects this teleological purpose of sex and for human bodies.
- The child welfare argument: Children have a natural right to be raised by their biological mother and father. Both parents – the mother and the father – are distinct and irreplaceable to their children. Couples with same-sex relationships and transgender identities deprive their children of the leadership, nurturing, and care that a fully male father and fully female mother provide.
- The biblical argument: God created humanity in the binary categories of man and woman, male and female, and intended sexual activity to be exclusively within the bonds of a heterosexual marriage (e.g. Genesis 1:27, Romans 1). He created each human being to be unique, but he did not create each person’s gender or sexual orientation to be unique. Holding people to rigid gender stereotypes can lead to gender dysphoria. Any sexual activity or even desire for someone apart from your opposite-sex spouse and any self-professed gender identity violates God’s standards for creation and is morally wrong. For further resources on the biblical argument, see The New Reformation Catechism on Human Sexuality.
Countering LGBTQ2S+ Defenses of Pride
Chances are, if you raise any of these arguments with members or allies of the LGBTQ2S+ community, they will respond by saying that your position undermines their equality, rights, and/or freedom. Here are some suggestions of how to respond to these accusations:
- Equality, rights, and freedoms have limits. Complete marriage equality would naturally require the allowance of polyamory, incestuous marriages, and potential child marriage, yet Canadian society opposes all three on the grounds that someone cannot marry absolutely anyone they want. Constitutionally, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that all rights and freedoms are subject to “such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”
- No one has the legal right or freedom to require someone else to affirm their chosen identity. For instance, there are no “identity rights” in the Charter that require the state, much less a private citizen or institution, to recognize a given identity. The Charter gives people limited rights to “do” things; it does not give them any right to “be recognized as” something.
Finally, when voicing opposition to LGBTQ2S+ expression or identities, it is quite likely that Christians will be accused of being homophobic or transphobic. These accusations are easier to respond to (even if the commenter doesn’t agree with them):
- As Christians, we should never hate people because each person’s identity is fundamentally an image-bearer of God. We hate activities and even identities that God declared sinful, just as many other people hate activities or identities that they consider wrong. Environmentalists hate coal mining (but hopefully not coal miners) and try to eliminate the practice. Policemen hate drunk driving (but hopefully not the drunk drivers) and try to reduce the incidence of drunk driving. Liberals may hate conservative policies (but hopefully not conservatives) and strive to advance Liberal policies. In the same way, Christians ought to hate gender dysphoria and how it hurts the person experiencing it (but not hate the person experiencing it) and strive to resolve it according to God’s good prescription for humanity.
- Disapproval does not equal hatred. Christian love requires communicating disapproval for what is wrong because love does not “rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6). We can explain how this has an eternal dimension to it, how we don’t simply call out sinful behaviour because it is wrong at the moment but because each person will eventually have to give an account for their actions to a perfectly just Judge. Letting people merrily walk the road to eternal punishment is the most unloving thing a Christian can do.
ARPA’s mission is to “educate, equip, and encourage Reformed Christians to political action and to bring a biblical perspective to our civil authorities.” This requires us not to hide the light of truth under a basket on challenging topics such as gender identity or sexual orientation but to prepare each person to speak to these topics in a biblical and loving way. We hope that suggestions like these help you in this calling.