For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? – Galatians 1:10
Pride Month focuses on winning public opinion in favor of the LGBTQ+ community. We are given the choice to identify with the Pride movement or be identified as opposing the rights of these individuals.
According to Wikipedia, “LGBT pride is the promotion of the self-affirmation, dignity, equality, and increased visibility of … LGBT people as a social group.” The definition continues, saying, “Pride, as opposed to shame and social stigma, is the predominant outlook that bolsters most LGBT rights movements.”
The assumption that connects these two statements is that shame and social stigma are overcome by “self-affirmation, dignity, equality, and increased visibility.” Part of that assumption has proved true.
The Pride movement has been remarkably successful in overcoming social stigma. In 2021, Gallup found that over two-thirds of Americans support laws giving sexual minorities the same rights as other minorities. And The Roper Center for Public Opinion has concluded: “public opinion on LGBTQ issues has undergone a radical change.”
Christians who hold a biblical view of sexuality and marriage are now clearly in the minority. This change in public opinion concerns us on many levels, but it reminds us of an important truth. We will always experience conflict between seeking God’s approval and people’s approval.
We will always experience conflict between seeking God’s approval and people’s approval.
The Apostle Paul says, “Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do … that they may be saved” (1 Cor. 10:32-33). And Jesus said, “Do not resist the one who is evil, but turn the other cheek” (Mat. 5:39). So how do we do that in light of the change in public opinion about what is considered offensive?
Our desire to please God must always supersede our desire to please others. That not only includes those who disagree with our Christian beliefs but can also include other Christians. By placing God first, he promises to be so satisfying to us that the opinions of others will mean less and less (1 Cor. 4:3).
However, pleasing God does not mean we must do everything right. We still battle with sin and do things that displease God. Instead, it pleases God when we live in the knowledge that we are blameless and innocent before him because Christ died for us (Rom. 3:23-24).
Knowing God has made us righteous before him makes us humble and thankful. These attitudes help us be gracious and compassionate to others (Col. 4:5-6). If our interactions with others give them the impression that we, or they, do not need God’s forgiveness, we are no longer pleasing God first.
Living this way is difficult because we do not naturally see ourselves as righteous before God in Christ. Instead, we focus on our failures, or we become self-righteous because we compare ourselves to the shortcomings of others. Both these responses are our attempt to remove our shame and not live out our salvation as God works in us (Phil. 2:12-15).
The hope of being free from shame is a powerful incentive to identify with the Pride movement. That false hope appeals to those who struggle with their sexual identity and to those who want freedom from shame for other things that do not please God.
But equally harmful is the temptation to justify ourselves by condemning those participating in Pride Month. Our self-justification is as much a denial of the gospel as their attempts to be justified by winning public opinion.
Freedom from shame does not come from identifying with those for or against the Pride movement. That freedom is only possible through finding our identity in Christ.
Where do you experience conflict during Pride month?
Where is that person looking for approval? Where are you looking for approval?