Pride in the name of love

The Prince George Citizen - - Religion - REV. DR. BOB K. FILLIER TRIN­ITY UNITED CHURCH

This is Pride week in Prince Ge­orge. We raised the rain­bow flag on Wed­nes­day to cel­e­brate our Pride in the full di­ver­sity and humanity of all peo­ple today with a pa­rade and fes­ti­val, along with many other events mixed in.

It seems nor­mal and it hap­pens ev­ery year, yet peo­ple still ask: “is it re­ally nec­es­sary”; “why isn’t there a straight pa­rade?”; and “how is Pride Chris­tian?”

Let me be clear.

I’m a 40 some­thing, white, mid­dle-class, highly ed­u­cated, or­dained, straight per­son who iden­ti­fies as male.

In many ways, I’m the epit­ome of en­ti­tle­ment and the ben­e­fi­ciary of hun­dreds of years of cor­rupt and op­pres­sive so­cial struc­tures and poli­cies.

I wres­tle with the ways I’ve ben­e­fited from my white-straight­male­ness sim­ply be­cause I was born that way.

Pride, in that sense, isn’t about me, or is it?

Let me be clear.

I’m an ally.

A col­league of mine re­minded me re­cently that, “Pride isn’t for me. It isn’t just about my be­ing com­fort­able in my own skin, with who I am, and how God made me. It’s about the per­son who is still in the closet. Who lives in fear of fam­ily, friends, so­ci­ety, church, school and work. It’s about say­ing you don’t have to deny who you are.”

If that’s true, then Pride is as much about me as any­one be­cause, as a fol­lower of Je­sus, I’m called to re­sist the struc­tures that in any­way limit, di­min­ish, or seek to erad­i­cate the full di­ver­sity and humanity of peo­ple cre­ated in God’s im­age.

For me to be a fol­lower of Je­sus means I need to love all my neigh­bours as my­self (Mt 22:37-40) with­out reser­va­tions or pre­con­di­tions.

Je­sus doesn’t say love your straight/com­mon her­itage/com­mon an­ces­tral/com­mon lan­guage speak­ing/ com­mon faith be­liev­ing neigh­bour.

Je­sus sim­ply says love your neigh­bour.

Full stop.

Love them be­cause God cre­ated them in the full­ness of their humanity, in­clud­ing sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and gen­der iden­tity.

The Apos­tle Paul pushes that fur­ther in Gala­tians 3:23-39 and states that there is noth­ing that di­vides us within the gospel’s ecosys­tem.

If God looked upon cre­ation and said it was all God… then all re­ally does need to mean all.

Not most, not some, not with qual­i­fiers.

All.

Part of the chal­lenge, of course, is that the Chris­tian church has been (and some still are) com­plicit in the de­hu­man­iz­ing of peo­ple and the sin-a-fi­ca­tion of their humanity.

Con­ver­sion ther­apy is still a part of some re­li­gious groups.

The be­lief that you can “pray the gay away” still per­me­ates the con­scious­ness of some groups.

Phrases like “love the sin­ner, hate the sin” or “it’s ok to be gay, just don’t act on it” still echo in some ‘hal­lowed’ halls.

All of that is true, yet it isn’t the only voice within the Chris­tian Church.

There are those who af­firm the full­ness of ev­ery­one’s humanity and their right to live into it.

Ho­mo­pho­bia has be­come the pla­cat­ing ter­mi­nol­ogy of the op­pres­sor and on this sub­ject, I agree with Mor­gan Free­man.

“I hate the word ho­mo­pho­bia,” he said. “It’s not a pho­bia. You’re not scared.”

Peo­ple are a lot of other things, yet scared isn’t re­ally one of them.

There is noth­ing in scrip­ture that sup­ports this rhetoric. Se­ri­ously.

There isn’t.

Each text ci­ta­tion that is com­monly used has been sub­ject to sig­nif­i­cant in­ter­pre­ta­tion and proof tex­ting.

Of­ten taken out of con­text.

Of­ten ig­nor­ing the orig­i­nal text, translatio­n, and mean­ing.

Je­sus never says any­thing on the sub­ject.

He does say lots of things about what we should do with our money, the treat­ment of the poor, im­pris­oned, sick, out­cast, wid­owed, im­mi­grant, neigh­bour, and or­phaned.

I won­der what would hap­pen if Chris­tians paid more at­ten­tion to what is said, rather than look­ing for state­ments that sup­port hate, fear, seg­re­ga­tion and hu­mil­i­a­tion.

Back to my orig­i­nal ques­tion, why is Pride im­por­tant?

Be­cause peo­ple need to know they don’t need to live in fear. Laws that al­low con­ver­sion ther­apy need to be chal­lenged and struck down.

Events like the anti-LGBTQ2SAI+ events in 2019 in Sur­rey and other parts of B.C. need to be chal­lenged and la­beled for what they are.

Our chil­dren and youth need to know that God made them who they are and loves who they are.

They need to know that it does get bet­ter and that there are peo­ple who will sup­port, nur­ture, and en­cour­age them with­out any prej­u­dice.

Peo­ple need to know that in­sti­tu­tions can change and the church can be a place that af­firms, up­lifts and nur­tures the body, mind and soul.

Pride is im­por­tant be­cause with­out it, we’re not a rain­bow of peo­ple, we’re just a monochro­matic du­pli­ca­tion of our own im­age.

I hope I see you at the fes­ti­val or in the pa­rade cel­e­brat­ing the Pride we all have in the rain­bow of our com­mon humanity.

CIT­I­ZEN FILE PHOTO

Thou­sands took part in the 20th an­nual Prince Ge­orge Pride Pa­rade through down­town Prince Ge­orge in July 2017.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.