In the first decade of the twenty-first century, in some conservative, mostly white evangelical circles there were calls to dial down the culture warring—at least in terms of the rhetoric, if not so much the theology that fueled it, nor the pervasive support for the concomitant anti-LGBTQ, anti-woman political agenda. Perhaps “civility” would lead to better understanding, the thinking went, and “building bridges” would get the queers back to church, where they would learn to be straight or, failing that, that God was calling them to be celibate.
It’s not clear how widespread such evangelical initiatives are at Pride events these days, but the practice certainly hasn’t died out. And last month, Christopher Smith, a Washington, DC-based Jesuit scholastic* who’s fully on board with the Catholic teaching that “homogenital” acts and transgender identities are sinful, took to Twitter to suggest that Catholics should do the same thing:
Water and soda for free, and hugs, and welcomed folks to come try our churches out. What if we complemented the drag queens instead of recoiling from people who were different. What if we lead with love? Then maybe people might take a chance to come to mass, and there they
— SmithSJ (@Chris_SmithsJ) May 26, 2021
As I write these words, evangelicals are also freaking out about a perfectly innocuous “Blue’s Clues” Pride sing-along, pushing the absurd, and in fact dangerous, accusation that making Pride content for children amounts to “predatory grooming,” even though conservative Christian families and churches, with their unhealthy sex obsession, are surely far more dangerous places for children than a Pride festival. This kind of projection, which is also part and parcel of the QAnon conspiracy theories so popular among evangelicals, is just one reason I’m much happier and healthier outside of religion, where my queer existence isn’t a theological “problem” to be debated or “solved.”
In any case, Christians, both LGBTQ Christians and straight allies, belong at Pride, if they want to be there. Affirming Christians there in an official capacity should refrain from centering themselves, however, particularly if they’re straight. Sometimes even well-meaning, affirming Christians also say hurtful things to people who’ve left Christianity, so here’s an infographic that might just help you to avoid saying anything tone-deaf:
Christians who are non-affirming, however? If you’re really serious about wanting to be “decent” toward queer people, you ought to save your apologies and your bottled water and stay home. Maybe while there, you could do some reflecting on how there’s no such thing as “kinder, gentler” culture warring.
It’s not “loving” to believe that sexual and gender minorities either shouldn’t exist or shouldn’t express who we are in loving relationships. Don’t come begging us for forgiveness until you’ve actually changed your harmful views, which you shouldn’t hide behind “friendly” rhetoric. Be “straight” with us. It’s the honest approach. And, after all, according to Revelation 21:8, liars go to hell.
Can you offer any additional suggestions for ways non-affirming Christians can bridge the gap and reduce the hate with the ‘sinners’ of the LGBTQ community?