God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.
A Closer Look
Welcome to Gay Pride Month, a 30-day celebration that creeps in like a kitten and thunders out like a gorilla. Around the world, gay people and their allies spend the first three weeks at symposia, reading hours, and panel discussions the media conveniently ignore. When June ends with parades commemorating the ’69 Stonewall Riots that spawned the gay movement, though, cameras will take interest because pride celebrations make great TV. Who can resist sitting out a commercial break for a closer look at, say, burly jocks got up like Susan Boyle (my bet as this year’s new icon), nearly naked kids bouncing on floats, or a cadre of lesbian bikers? Mark my word: June 30’s coverage will tease these sorts of images for all they’re worth simply to glue viewers to their sets.
As Stonewall’s 40th anniversary opens the movement’s fifth decade, one expects the media will provide more substantial chronicles of its advances, setbacks, and struggles. The time required for such retrospectives, however, will result in preaching to the choir, as disengaged and disdainful audiences will pass them by for glimpses of sensational parade footage. The “closer look” they get will be the same clichés the media’s hyped for 40 years, bringing disengaged and disdainful audiences no closer at all. They won’t get closer looks at PFLAG marchers, same-sex couples and families, or welcoming churches valiantly obeying Luke 14.23: “Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full.” (More likely, they’ll see curbside clutches of misguided Christians waving “Go to Hell” placards like the cold, unlighted torches they are.)
Once again, Tuesday reviews of Monday’s coverage will bring the same question: how can we raise our neighbors’ estimation of us if the media keep to the low road? The issues are too knotty to untangle. Freedom of expression twists around inaccurate, imbalanced representation. Defiance of rejection and drive for tolerance gnarl into crossed purposes. High-strung hijinks teasing homophobic clichés unravel into rope securing the very myths they taunt. While others continue picking apart the political and social strands lost in the jumble, gay believers are blessed with a better solution. Our witness of God’s love and acceptance lifts us above controversy, making every day a pride celebration. And while we embrace and honor the defiance displayed at Stonewall, we rejoice in another Sunday long before June 29, 1969. Our pride and confidence—our rights and victory—were established by the ultimate display of defiance, when Christ stepped out of His tomb to defeat sin and death forever.
Believers challenged by minority status—not only orientation, ethnicity, gender, and class, but less discussed inhibitors like family, social, and professional standing—by all means should reverse the flow of prejudice by claiming its target as a source of pride. But we should also be cognizant our minority pride nests inside our majority status as one of billions created in our Maker’s likeness. Awareness we’re as we are and where we are because He willed it so entitles us to celebrate God pride. Realizing the enormous sacrifice He undertook to restore His pride in our making reframes our self-image in a fresh, powerful context. In Ephesians 2.6, Paul writes, “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” That’s an image that definitely merits a closer look. Christ’s triumph over sin and death seats us with God in heavenly places, high above minority strife, above downcast stereotypes, above the short reach of fear-inflamed hatred.
God pride protects us to present His love to others. David—possibly the most hated, misjudged man in the Bible—says in Psalm 3.3: “You are a shield around me, O LORD; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.” I urge all of us—gay and straight, female and male, from every ethnicity, class, profession, and background—to march through Gay Pride Month and every other month with heads lifted in God pride. It’s important for us and even more important for others. In verse 7, Paul explains God raises us to sit with Him to “show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” Since the media can’t possibly capture God’s grace and kindness to us, our pride as His children is the only way others will ever get a close look at Him.
Annual celebrations of minority pride are nested inside God pride that all believers celebrate year-‘round.