Monday, June 30, 2008

The Problem of Pride

So this past weekend was Gay Pride weekend here in the Twin Cities.

The new Roman Catholic bishop in town put the kibosh on the annual Gay Pride Prayer Service, held for many years in conjunction with all of the other Pride festivities. He would not allow this service to be held in the sanctuary of a local church. And the local gay and allied community (which includes some of my friends and even some family) is outraged.

A friend referred me to this article in yesterday's paper, written in response to this outrage. I don't read this columnist much (I'm afraid I am not the most conservative of Orthodox Christians) but I think I agree with her about this - about 100%. She sums up many of the things which have made me uneasy about this issue, especially as it relates to the church, in recent years.

Pride simply has no place in the church - any sort of pride in any Christian church. And I'm not convinced it has any place in the rest of our lives either. The whole notion of gay pride in general is as ridiculous as the notion of straight pride; as if anyone - gay or straight - has anything to be proud of.

I'm just naive enough to not know whether Pride Weekend is just a local annual observance or whether it is a nationwide thing - but really, I don't care. I wouldn't go to a gay pride prayer service, anyway.

For the record, I wouldn't go to a straight pride prayer service, either.


Dwight P. said...

As you know, I am most uncomfortable with the use of liturgy to sanctify any but the most scripturally based events -- baptism is a churchly event, marriage may or may not be (I tend to want to kick marriage out of the list of sacraments -- on which list it does not exist for Lutherans!), events of disasters, the ends of wars (it should be celebration and repentance). I think special masses or even prayer services for vestry retreats, mothers' gatherings, or sexuality-based observances is out of bounds -- it puts the liturgy at the service of our agenda and not the other, small-o "orthodox" way around.

I felt that discomfort when I preached to gay Christian groups in their masses while I lived in Chicago. (Most of my friends though adulthood have been and are gay, so I cannot be accused, I think, of homophobia, and I especially enjoyed the bunch at St. James [Episcopal]Cathedral.) Despite my discomfort at special-interest masses, I agreed to preach (in my mind so that at least the proclamation had some integrity). And the worship director for Dignity (the gay Episcopalian group) regularly thanked me for not preaching gay sermons, but rather for preaching on the texts -- even when it was a rebuke to generally accepted "gay liberation" attitudes. But even in those terms, private masses, special-interest masses, lobbying masses are not kosher for me.


-C said...

Amen to most of this, Dwight - though I might challenge and be interested to learn more about your comment about the sacramental nature of marriage.

Would love to visit with you about it sometime ...

Benjamin said...


I think you hit the nail on the head with this one. Before we even get into the often painful debate of Christian faith and sexuality, we should be stopped short by the words PRIDE in any circumstance - even, very importantly, "Orthodox Pride"!

Thom said...

I think that "Pride" is a poor word choice, but I will use it since it's the accepted one. It's a reclamation, if you will.

And yes, June is Pride month nationally.

-C said...

Ben -

You know I had actually addressed the "Orthodox Pride" thing in my original post, but edited it out - not because it doesn't exist or because of any desire to insinuate that it doesn't. It's alive and well in the Orthodox Church, too.

My point was exactly as you mention, we should be stopped short with the word "pride."

-C said...

Thom -
I didn't pick the word, but it is the word.

But I am interested to understand the word "reclamation" in this context. Reclaim what?

I am not asking to be provocative in any way, but out of sincere interest.

Thom said...

I mean a reclamation of one's human dignity. After a history of repression and hatred, it's truly liberating to be able to say, "Hey, I'm gay. I'm not a pervert. God made me the same way God made you, and I'm loved and have value in the same way."

And not just a "history" of repression and hatred (and worse), but a problem and an injustice that continues to this day.

I knew you weren't being provocative. :-)

-C said...

Thom -

Yet I think it's important to note that one's true human dignity is found only in a life of humility and repentance. That is the true nature which belongs to all of created humankind.

(When I say repentance here, I am not making any sort of a judgement call here about whether or not homosexuality is a sin - that isn't my call to make. My job is to love my neighbors - all of them without specific contraints or parameters. But I mean a common repentance in that all of us lead sinful lives and are called to constant conversion).

Thom said...

Aye, understood.

Ultimately I think it's important to find that balance between a life of conversion, and a life that acknowledges and reflects God, who is Love. :-)

-C said...

"...between a life of conversion, and a life that acknowledges and reflects God, who is Love."

I don't think there's an either/or here - I think they are the same.

Thanks for stopping, Thom!