Trust me: I am not trying to start a war on pride month here. But I’ve quietly watched friends on both sides, and it’s time I said this.
After all these years, Pride Month still has a major image problem. The name allows for too much misunderstanding on both sides of the issue.
I’ve seen it year after year. Some things, as the saying goes, just never change.
‘Pride’ is too easily misunderstood — sometimes intentionally.
Yes, I said intentionally. Recently, a Facebook “friend” posted a tired old message about Pride Month. This “friend” is a Christian — a type some might call the overeager Bible-thumper type.
The message of the post was a warning about what the Bible says about “pride.”
Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.Proverbs 16:18
Some have shortened the message to a more common phrase: “Pride goeth before a fall.”
It’s a sort of “cheap shot” that many Christians seem to enjoy firing off. Another popular Christian cheap shot involves April Fools Day.
Granted, the Bible does call pride a sin. In fact, the Bible calls pride one of the “seven deadly sins.”
Jeremiah 9:23-24 states, “…Let not the mighty man boast of his might…but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me….”
So for some Christians, it’s a word that automatically serves as a quick trigger.
It doesn’t matter to these folks that they come off sounding very prideful when they make snide points like this. They are the ones who come off a little too “arrogantly confident” in their own beliefs. I don’t see, unfortunately, much effort made in these moments to empathize with the people they take so much pleasure in mocking.
Somehow, I think that would be offensive to God. I think we Christians should be better than that.
There’s more than one definition of pride.
Oxford Languages provides the two different definitions. I suspect most of us only consider the first one when we hear that word.
The first definition is: “a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.”
This type of pride isn’t automatically a sin. There’s nothing wrong with feeling pleasure and satisfaction in your own accomplishments. But when that pride becomes so large that it costs you your humility, that’s the very moment when it becomes a concern.
But the second definition is the one we don’t often consider. That second definition reads, “consciousness of one’s own dignity.” An example Oxford provides of this one uses the phrase “swallowing one’s pride.” That sounds far more humble to me.
We all should be conscious of our own dignity. We all have dignity, no matter how many others might hope to take it away from us or make us lose sight of it ourselves.
Being aware of our own value, no matter how many others seem more than content to fail in acknowledging it, is important. It’s healthy. We have to value ourselves even when others don’t act like they do.
Given the rates of depression and suicide in the LGBTQ community, no caring Christian should want to try to take away the dignity of LGBTQ people. Any Christian who sets out to do so, even with a silly little Facebook meme, is definitely violating the greatest commandment delivered by Jesus Christ Himself.
But even if you have pride, that sometimes isn’t enough.
I’ll give you an example from the workplace. I can take pride in my work. I do, for that matter.
But understand that I’m not talking about the boastful kind of pride. Instead, I’m referring to a pride in hard work and doing my best. That’s a kind of self-satisfaction that many people value.
I realize there will always be someone who does it better than I do.
But no matter how hard I work and how much I try to improve year after year, I find there’s a second trait that I need. This second trait is something I can give myself, but only to a degree.
I actually need — we all need — a little of it to come from others.
It’s that second trait that brings me to the point of this whole post.
I think there’s a better name for Pride Month.
After thinking about it for a while, it seems to me it should have been called Respect Month.
Just as I can feel pride in my work, if I don’t have other people’s respect, that pride only goes so far. Too few people are willing to show each other the respect they deserve.
Yes, I said deserve.
Too many people seem to believe that respect is something that has to be earned. They’re wrong. They have managed to confuse respect and trust.
You shouldn’t have to earn someone’s respect. That’s a universal quality that we all owe each other.
Trust is a different story. You don’t walk up to a complete stranger and open up to them about your personal problems. You don’t just share all sorts of private information with someone you don’t know.
But you can walk up to a complete stranger who you see is in some kind of struggle and respect them enough to try to offer help or even a kind word.
Don’t take my word for it. Consider 1 Peter 3:15:
But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.
You don’t have to know someone well to offer them respect. You don’t have to share the same religion, race or background. Likewise, you don’t have to share the same orientation or identity to show respect.
Unfortunately, when I look at some Pride Month activities, I see plenty of disrespect from people who are not sympathetic to the LGBTQ community. They make no effort to understand or show empathy. That’s on them.
But I sometimes see an equal lack of respect from members of the LGBTQ community towards people they consider to be unsympathetic to their plight.
While I can certainly understand resentment on the part of any oppressed group, resentment doesn’t lead to bridge building.
So as Pride Month comes to a close, I hope, if you’ve taken the time to read this far, you’ll stop for a few minutes and reflect on how much respect you show to people who aren’t like you.
Respect isn’t a sign that you agree with them or that you approve of what’s different.
Respect is simply a gesture that recognizes that we’re all in this journey together. It’s an effort to understand not only our own dignity, but that of others.
I think if more people could show each other genuine respect, our country and our world would be far less divided.
Wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing?